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AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

The AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification (or Sol Arch Associate for short) offers some clear benefits:

  • Increased marketability to employers
  • Solid credentials in a growing industry (with projected growth of as much as 70 percent in five years)
  • It’s the highest paying IT certification in 2016, according to market analysis

If the AWS Solutions Architect Associate is your next certification, you’re probably wondering where to start in your preparation. What do you need to learn? How long will it take? Don’t worry. At Cloud Academy, we’ve got you covered with this complete AWS certified Solutions Architect associate study guide. Our Learning Path contains everything you need to know for this certification, organized step by step. This article explains how to use our Learning Paths, and how much time it takes to prepare for the exam.

AWS certified Solutions Architect associate study guide: What is a Learning Path?

Cloud Academy offers a wide variety of video courses, quizzes and labs on different areas of cloud computing.  Our Learning Paths help you get from where you are to where you want to go. The Sol Arch associate learning path is essentially your AWS certified Solutions Architect associate study guide.
Our Solutions Architect Associate Learning Path contains all of the courses, labs and quizzes you need to help you pass the AWS certification exam.
Each type of content on the Learning Path serves a different instructional purpose:

  • Video courses provide guided lectures on key areas of the exam, with examples.
  • The hands-on labs provide direct access to the AWS service test areas.
  • Quizzes are the opportunity to show what you’ve learned, with links to AWS documentation.

The Solutions Architect Associate Learning Path focuses:

  • Designing highly available, cost efficient, fault tolerant and scalable systems
  • Implementation and deployment
  • Data security
  • Troubleshooting

Using the Learning Path

An essential element of the AWS certified Solutions Architect associate study guide involves understanding the gaps in your knowledge. First consider what you already know, and what you need to know. Where do you have experience in computing or working with cloud services? What basic cloud service types (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, for example) are you most familiar with? How does this prepare you for the Solutions Architect exam?
Next, take a look at the general knowledge prerequisites. The only prior knowledge recommended for this Learning Path is basic familiarity with core AWS functions. If you know these functions, then you are ready. (If you are new to AWS, or want a refresher, start with the Fundamentals of AWS Learning Path first.)
Second, the Solutions Architect Associate Learning Path naturally builds from AWS fundamentals to more advanced areas. For the best approach, start at the beginning with the first course and continue step by step. Complete each activity in order to ensure that you’re familiar with services like EC2 or DynamoDB. Then, move on to test your knowledge in the labs and quizzes.
You see, there is no secret. Just make sure that you understand the fundamentals of AWS, and go from there.

How long will it take?

This is a natural question. Passing the exam requires being well prepared, and how long that takes depends on where you start.
On average, we recommend approximately 80 hours of preparation for the Solution Architect Associate Exam, as long as you have some AWS experience. This includes study across all of your resources, including our Solutions Architect Learning Path, and any other resources that you choose. (Here you will find more advice and recommended study resources for the Solutions Architect Associate Certification). With a full-time job and other commitments, investing 80 hours of study usually takes two months.
If you are entirely new to AWS, we recommend approximately 120 hours or three months to prepare. Start with the fundamentals, and then move to the Solutions Architect Associate Learning Path.

Where to focus your time

How much of the Solutions Architect Associate exam connects with your current or previous work experience? This will give you an idea of where to focus your time learning new topics. We’ll discuss some basics below, and I highly recommend this webinar where a professional with all 5 AWS Certifications describes their approach.
About 60 percent of the Solutions Architect Associate Exam focuses on Designing Solutions. If you work in Solutions Design or Architecture, or if your role includes these responsibilities, these topics, concepts and services may already be familiar to you.
Another 30 percent of the Solutions Architect Associate exam concentrates on security and troubleshooting, which might be familiar to those with an IT or System Administrator background.
The remaining 10 percent focuses on deployment and implementation, which may be familiar to developers or programmers. However, the Solutions Architect Associate Exam focuses mainly on infrastructure. As a result, the concepts and services covered in the exam may be entirely new if your primary experience is in software programming or coding.
Ultimately, where you decide to focus your time and how much time you spend depends on you. The best approach to our Learning Path is to delve deeply into any unfamiliar territory. Watch and rewatch the videos (and post your questions as comments – we will respond!) Take your time in each hands-on lab to get comfortable with the different services in AWS. Finally, explore the AWS documentation links in the quizzes.
We don’t want to tell anyone to spend more or less time preparing for the exam. Therefore, you will want to consider your areas of expertise and how they relate to this certification. Finally, if you already have AWS experience, you can use 80 hours of study as a starting point and adjust your strategy from there. The best approach takes the best practices and advice from many sources and is tailored to fit your experience, goals, and schedule.  Good luck!

Written by

John enjoys the mixture of creativity and learning science in educational publishing, with a focus on building and organizing assessment. Outside of work, he is an audiophile who loves exploring new music, teaching his daughter new songs, and attending and performing live music.

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