AWS Developer vs. AWS Solutions Architect: Breaking Down the Differences Between Two Very Different Career Paths

Why do we want to break down the AWS Developer vs. AWS Solutions Architect job roles? Well, we know the tech world is ever-changing. And yes, we know that AWS feature releases are like a tsunami of new services that are both exciting and overwhelming. What isn’t changing? The need for people to enter into a job market with strong skills — and keep those skills increasing over time.

With that in mind, this post is going to review the basics of two popular career paths within the Amazon universe: the AWS Developer vs AWS Solutions Architect. If you’re new to the field, you’re probably confused as to how the two paths are different and which career is the right fit for you. We’re going to clarify all this for you, along with the following details:

  • What are AWS Developers and AWS Solutions Architects?
  • What are the types of tasks that devs and solutions architects do?
  • What’s the salary and demand for devs and solutions architects?

In a nutshell: what are these roles?

AWS Developer

AWS Developers create and maintain applications based on AWS tools. You’ll need a general coding background to understand how to step into projects at varying points in the software development life cycle. 

Devs use a whole suite of tools to create their projects, whether they are releasing a game, a learning platform, or an app that will hopefully go viral and reach millions of downloads. You’ll see that there are connections between all roles when working on a project in tech and cloud, because these tools, along with a stable development environment, are provided to them by  Solutions Architects.

AWS Developer Skills and Experience

  • Deep knowledge of a specific high-level programming language
  • Familiarity with the core services of AWS
  • Ability to use AWS APIs, AWS CLI, and SDKs to build applications
  • Ability to use a CI/CD pipeline to deploy applications on AWS
  • Ability to use or interact with AWS services
  • Familiarity with the use of container and development process

AWS Developer Salary

The average salary range of an AWS developer is $92,000 to $158,000/year.

AWS Solutions Architect

An AWS Solutions Architect deals with solution designing. For instance, if a user is considering moving its business to the cloud, the user’s biggest questions would be, “Why should we move? What should we move? In what way should we move to the cloud?” Based on user demand, the Solutions Architect selects the best AWS tools to achieve the user’s goals. 

This role is related to the Administrator role because the Solutions Architect should be quite familiar with all the day-to-day tasks that an admin has to execute. However, you can think of the Solutions Architect as a progression past the Administrator role. Both roles handle the infrastructure for stable development and operational environment. Many admins choose to move up to a senior role and take all their knowledge to apply it at a high-level Solutions Architect role, where they can use their years of experience to build robust systems.

AWS offers two certificates for Solutions Architects: Professional and Associate. The associate cert is the most popular cert that AWS offers and demonstrates you have a very strong understanding of all aspects of dynamic cloud infrastructure, while the professional cert needs more years of experience.

AWS Solutions Architect Skills and Experience

  • Experience with designing and developing cloud architecture on AWS
  • Ability to provide an architectural recommendation for implementing and deploying the application on AWS
  • Familiarity with AWS CLI, AWS APIs, AWS CloudFormation templates, the AWS Billing Console, and the AWS Management Console
  • Familiarity with tools like a scripting language, window and Linux Environment
  • Ability to map an architecture that forms a continuous integration and deployment process

AWS Solutions Architect Salary

The average salary range of an AWS Solutions Architect is $75,000 to $190,000/year.

How do AWS Certifications help you in this process?

The first and most obvious reason for obtaining any certification is to quantify your skills. Certification is the written proof that you have acquired a specific set of skills and knowledge—and AWS cloud certifications are well-respected in the market. They can also help you boost your salary when combined with other factors such as your overall skill set and years of experience.

An AWS certification, while valuable, only signifies that you have successfully completed that specific program; it does not attest to your experience level in a professional work environment. Landing your dream job will therefore require you to gain the appropriate level of experience and complete other testing protocols in addition to earning a certification. 

Cloud Academy offers 10 AWS certifications, including Certified Developer – Associate Certification Preparation for AWS and Solutions Architect – Associate Certification Preparation for AWS. These all-inclusive learning paths provide step-by-step learning experiences with video-based courses, certification prep exams, and plenty of hands-on labs to build real-world experience in live environments.

AWS Developer Certification Exam details

The AWS Developer Certification Exam is for those Developers who have one or more years of experience with developing and maintaining the AWS-based application.

AWS Developer Certification Learning Path
  • Exam Format: Multiple Choice Questions
  • Delivery Method: Testing Center or Online
  • Time: 130 Minutes
  • Fee: $150 USD
  • Language: English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese

AWS Solutions Architect Exam details

There are two certifications for the AWS Solutions Architect: Associate and Professional.

AWS Solutions Architect-Associate

The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam is for those individuals who have performed the Solutions Architect role and have one or more years of experience in designing available, cost-efficient, fault-tolerant, and scalable distributed systems on AWS.

AWS Solutions Architect Associate Learning Path

  • Exam Format: Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Delivery Method: Testing Center or Online
  • Time: 130 Minutes
  • Fee: $150 USD
  • Language: English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese

In the following video, Stuart Scott details the new AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification (SAA-C02) and explains how to prepare for this much sought-after certification.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Professional Certification Exam is for Solutions Architects who have two or more years of experience managing and operating systems on AWS.

AWS Solutions Architect Professional Learning Path

  • Exam Format: Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Delivery Method: Testing Center or Online
  • Time: 180 Minutes
  • Fee: $300 USD
  • Language: English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese

The whole breakdown: AWS Developer vs. AWS Solutions Architect

Parameter AWS Developer AWS Solutions Architect
Certifications One certification: Associate Two certifications: Associate and Professional
Exam 130 minutes, multiple-choice questions Professional – 180 minutes, multiple-choice questions

Associate – 130 minutes, multiple-choice questions

Fee $150 USD Professional – $300 USD

Associate – $150 USD

Salary $92,000 to $158,000 $75,000 to $190,000
Demand High High, but fewer architect jobs per company, though this is a valuable cert for DevOps.

Next steps

As you think about what career path you’re interested in, rest assured that there are frameworks set up for you to learn and advance step-by-step toward your personal and career goals. If you’re more interested in creating applications that live on the web, go for the Developer cert. If you’re into infrastructure, try out the Solutions Architect – Associate cert. Both paths have relevant info that crosses categories, and often times the most curious people learn as much as they can about both paths to give themselves a wider view of a tech project.

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