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  5. AWS Solutions Architect Associate Level Certification Course - Part 1 of 3

Introduction to the Certification


The AWS Solutions Architect Associate Level Certification
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AWS certifications are among the cloud industry's most valuable, and the Solutions Architect Associate Level exam is the jump off point for the whole series. Once you've mastered associate level material, you'll be comfortable designing and deploying fault tolerant and highly available systems on AWS, estimating costs and building cost control mechanisms, and choosing just the right blend of services for any project you're asked to provision.

The first course of this three-part certification exam preparation series, besides offering a good general overview of AWS, focuses on the core AWS services: EC2, EBS, S3 and IAM. The second course will discuss networking and include a practical design and deployment of a real-world application infrastructure. The third and final course will explore data management and application and services deployment.

Who should take this course?

This is an advanced course that's aimed at people who already have some experience with AWS and a familiarity with the general principles of architecting cloud solutions.

Where will you go from here?

The self-testing quizzes of the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Level preparation material are a great follow up to this series and a pretty good indicator of your readiness to take the AWS exam. Also, since you're studying for the AWS certification, check out the AWS Certifications Study Guide on our blog.


Welcome to's video series on preparing to take and pass the AWS Solutions Architect associate level certification exam. By joining us for these courses you'll be introduced to all the basic skills you'll need to master AWS administration. Of course, the videos themselves along with the related practice quizzes CloudAcademy has made available aren't enough. You'll also need your own practical experience building and destroying real world AWS deployments. But we can certainly give you the tools and guidance to make that possible.

AWS currently offers five separate certification exams. Solutions Architect certification is available on two levels, associate and professional. The professional level requires all the same knowledge and skill of the associate version, plus familiarity with complex, multi-tiered, and enterprise wide deployments. Our present course focuses exclusively on the associate level. A successful AWS certified developer, currently available only at the associate level, is able to successfully develop and maintain applications on the AWS platform.

Now the material covered by the SysOps Administrator exam, also available only at the associate level right now, would seem on first glance to overlap with the Solutions Architect certification. SysOps however, would appear to expect greater knowledge of ongoing operational management and implementation, rather than initial application and server deployment.

The DevOp certification which is currently still in beta and is available only at the professional level focuses on provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems. Again, this series will focus on a Solutions Architect certification at the associate level. Once you're ready, you register online to take the exam at a physical location near you. Exams can be written in over 750 locations around the world, through a company called criterion. This PDF is AWS's exam blueprint for the Solutions Architect certification. As you can see, 60% of the exam is devoted to applying and managing AWS services to designing optimized systems, which includes planning and design, monitoring, best practices, and pricing considerations. 10% is devoted to AMIs, that's Amazon Machine Images, private and public clouds, and geographic regions. 20% is devoted to data security including IM, Identity and access Management, VPCs which is Virtual Private Clouds, backup storage services like Elastic Block Store, EBS, and CloudWatch. Finally 10% of the questions focus on troubleshooting. You will face two types of questions, multiple choice, from which you'll select one correct answer which might require point and click selection. And multiple response, for which there could be more than one correct response. Don't use Brain Dumps or other illegal shortcuts. Besides the fact that you could face severe penalties, you're simply not doing yourself any favors. This exam reflects real world skills, if you can't pass it on your own, you just won't be at all effective using AWS services. Who wants to hire a guy without skills? Rely on AWS's own documentation, facts, and light papers. They usually have very high quality, and they're accessible either from right on a particular service's dashboard page, or from the documentation section of the site. And definitely don't forget to take CloudAcademy's practice exam quizzes. They might be a bit more demanding and fine detail oriented than the actual AWS certification exam, but if you do well on your quizzes, you know you're ready to ace the real thing.

Besides the key skills presented in these videos, you will definitely need practical experience. AWS expects a year's worth, but in any case you'll have to be familiar with how AWS services work in real world deployments. Fortunately, unlike training for network administration in the old days which demanded steady access to expensive hardware, getting experience on AWS and other cloud computing platforms really requires nothing more than a web browser, and an SSH terminal. And it doesn't have to cost much. If you're still within your first year at AWS you probably qualify for their free tier of services. And even if you don't qualify, launching smaller instances, buckets, and databases for short periods of time is ridiculously cheap as long as you remember to shut them down once you're done. The services I create and destroy in the process of producing these training videos typically costs me less than $10 a month, and they're tax deductible.

About the Author

Learning paths2

David taught high school for twenty years, worked as a Linux system administrator for five years, and has been writing since he could hold a crayon between his fingers. His childhood bedroom wall has since been repainted.

Having worked directly with all kinds of technology, David derives great pleasure from completing projects that draw on as many tools from his toolkit as possible.

Besides being a Linux system administrator with a strong focus on virtualization and security tools, David writes technical documentation and user guides, and creates technology training videos.

His favorite technology tool is the one that should be just about ready for release tomorrow. Or Thursday.