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Choosing the Right AWS Certification For Your Career

(Update March 2019) The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional Certification has been fully released. To prepare for this certification, we recommend the Cloud Academy’s DevOps Engineer – Professional Certification Preparation for AWS Learning Path. Since this post was written, AWS has also released three Specialty certifications – AWS Certified Networking, AWS Certified Big Data, and AWS Certified Security Specialty  – plus the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification. For an up-to-date summary of all AWS certifications learning paths, visit the Cloud Academy’s AWS Certification page.

AWS certifications now include a range of cloud architect and developer designations: how to choose the right AWS certification?

With the increase in cloud adoption in the last few years, the need for cloud certified IT professionals is exploding. With cloud certifications, you can benchmark cloud computing knowledge and skills. It gives confidence to employers that they are hiring the right professional, while a professional gets an extra edge over the competition. There is quite a range of industry standard certifications – some of them vendor specific – available in the IT world. With more and more vendors jumping into the cloud computing market, you’ve got quite a choice of available certifications.

Choosing the right AWS certification for you matters a lot, as one size certainly does not fit all feet. So, for instance, a developer certification is for someone who builds cloud applications, while an architect certification is for someone who designs and plans cloud deployments.

With around 8,000 partners around the world, Amazon Web Services is the most widely used cloud computing platform. With the growing demand for cloud computing professionals with the skill sets to manage Amazon infrastructure, AWS launched their own certification program in May 2013. Over last 18 months, AWS has launched four certifications (plus one still in beta).

The AWS certification family is divided into two layers: Associate and Professional. The Associate layer focuses upon individuals with strong AWS environment fundamentals, while the Professional layer focuses upon building complex systems on top of AWS. Each of these certifications targets its own audience: design, development, or operations.

The AWS certifications:

  • AWS Certified Solutions ArchitectAssociate
  • AWS Certified DeveloperAssociate
  • AWS Certified SysOps AdministratorAssociate
  • AWS Certified Solutions ArchitectProfessional
  • AWS Certified DevOps EngineerProfessional (Beta)
Solutions ArchitectDeveloperSysOps Administrator
AssociateAWS Certified Solutions Architect – AssociateAWS Certified Developer – AssociateAWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – ProfessionalAWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional



Certificate NameAWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Target AudienceSolutions Architect
  • Design distributed applications and systems on the AWS platform.
  • Identify the right AWS services for your applications.
  • Identify AWS infrastructure cost and cost control mechanisms.
  • Make use of AWS architectural best practices.
  • On-premise to AWS Migration knowledge.
  • Understand High Availability, Scalability, Disaster Recovery, and Fault Tolerance.
Training Material  AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Learning Path

Certificate NameAWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
Target AudienceSolutions Architect
Pre-requisitesAWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • Design complex distributed applications and systems on AWS platform.
  • Understand High Availability, Scalability, Disaster Recovery and Fault Tolerance.
  • Understand the migrations of complex multi-tier applications from on-premise to AWS.
  • Understand compliance needs.
  • Ability to identify and gather requirements and make necessary recommendations for implementation and deployment on AWS.
  • Understand various choices available for an architecture, and choosing the best one according to project requirements.
  • Design optimal system according to requirements and deploying complex applications on AWS
Training Material  AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Learning Path


Certificate NameAWS Certified Developer – Associate
Target AudienceDeveloper
  • Design, develop and maintain applications on AWS.
  • Understand core AWS services like EC2, S3, RDS, SQS, DynamoDB, CloudFormation.
  • Hands-on programming experience with AWS SDKs (any lanuguage) and APIs.
  • Write optimized application code according to AWS requirement.
  • Understand application security requirements and integration with AWS security best practices.
  • Understand automated deployment procedures and working experience with AWS deployment tools.
Training Material AWS Certified Developer – Associate Learning Path


Certificate NameAWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
Target AudienceSysOps Administrator
  • Deploy and maintain applications on AWS.
  • Understand managing highly available, scalable, fault tolerant AWS infrastructure (along with actual experience).
  • Understand AWS operational best practices.
  • Complete understanding of monitoring systems and various metrics.
  • Understand data integrity and security.
  • Understand provisioning resources and automated deployments on AWS (along with experience).
  • Understand AWS costs and cost control mechanisms.
Training Material  AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate Learning Path


Certificate NameAWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Target AudienceDeveloper and SysOps Administrator
PrerequisitesAWS Certified Developer – Associate or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
  • Provision, operate, and manage distributed application systems on the AWS platform.
  • Understand application and infrastructure security, AWS security mechanisms, and various compliance processes.
  • Strong working knowledge of logging and monitoring metrics on AWS.
  • Experience working on continuous deployment model, agile and other development methodologies, automate operational processes.
Training Material AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional Learning Path


How to choose an AWS certification

Over time, as your knowledge and skills grow, it becomes more important for you to understand the complete environment, both infrastructure, and development. Eventually, as a Principal Cloud Architect, you will need to address certain questions, like

  • how performance-tuned application code can be written by using AWS SDKs
  • how to design your architecture for failure
  • how to build an automated deployment process by leveraging various deployment services offered by AWS
  • how to implement various security measures and compliance policies for your AWS infrastructure and application
  • how to build optimal solutions within strict cost control mechanisms

To answer these questions, you’ll need to have had a hand in many roles (architect, developer, and SysOps) at some stage of your life. As you spend time in a certain role then, why not go for the relevant certification?

Written by

Sanket Dangi

Head of Managed Services at REAN Cloud. Before joining REAN Cloud, I was CEO and Founder of StraightArc Solutions which was later acquired by REAN Cloud.I started my career working on cloud computing. Loves to talk about DevOps, System Administration, Scalability, High Availability, Disaster Recovery and Cloud Security. Apart from work, I love to meet people, travel and watch sports.

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