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AWS Certifications Exam: Eligibility, Exam Format & Exam Cost

04th Jan, 2024
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    AWS Certifications Exam: Eligibility, Exam Format & Exam Cost

    AWS is a popular platform that revolves around cloud management and extensive knowledge of application deployment. The platform offers more than 100 services with its unique lingo, GUI, and CLI command set. For IT professionals who want to excel in cloud architecture, system administration, DevOps, and other related fields, starting with AWS is an excellent option. However, to do so, you must get certified after giving the AWS certification exam.

    All AWS certifications validate a professional’s mastery of any AWS service with cloud skills that help transform any business. AWS certifications can enhance your career, showcase your skills, and help you fit into new roles.

    AWS certification promises a 28% forecasted growth in jobs that require cloud skills in the next five years. Moreover, over 91% of organizations prefer employing AWS Certified professionals who can build credibility and drive innovations.

    These certifications upskill the workforce and update their cloud skills while enhancing the ROI of businesses. Here is a comprehensive guide on various kinds of AWS certifications!


    What is the AWS Certification Exam?

    AWS certifications evaluate and validate a candidate’s skills and provide hands-on experience on best practices. Consequently, taking the AWS certification exam helps executives excel as IT team members and bolster the foundational knowledge and skills required to work with AWS services and solutions. It also helps organizations build their internal training path and allow IT environments to become more customized.

    Candidates across the globe get certified on AWS systems to grow in-demand and profitable new skills and achieve business goals. Getting through with the exams helps aspirants speed up their time, add value to cloud projects, exhibit a certain level of cloud expertise, and demonstrate a shared understanding of the cloud platform.

    AWS Certification Exam gives professionals exclusive benefits like:

    • AWS Certification achievement with digital badges on social media and email signatures.
    • Gain immediate access to exclusive AWS-sponsored certification events.
    • A 50% discount voucher can be applied toward recertification or any other exam.
    • Receive invites to regional Appreciation Receptions
    • Use a digital badge to get exclusive access to AWS Certification Lounges at AWS Reinvent and select AWS Summit events.
    • Gain access to the AWS Certified community network with peers.

    Levels of AWS Certification Exam

    There are currently four levels of AWS Certification Exams, which include:

    1. Practitioner: This knowledge-based certification validates a candidate’s foundational understanding of AWS Cloud. Normally, no prior experience is needed for this exam.
    2. Associate: These role-based certifications showcase a candidate’s knowledge and skills on AWS. It helps them build credibility as an AWS Cloud professional. Experience and knowledge of cloud and/or strong on-premises IT is highly recommended.
    3. Professional: These role-based certifications validate a candidate’s advanced skills and knowledge required to automate processes on AWS through designing, optimizing, and modernizing applications. This requires 2 years of prior AWS Cloud experience.
    4. Specialty: These certifications dive deeper and help candidates validate their expertise in strategic areas.

    Types of AWS Certification Exam

    AWS currently offers 12 certifications, including a foundational certification, 3 associate-level certifications, 2 professional-level certifications, and 6 specialty certifications.

    1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

    The Amazon Cloud Practitioner is a foundation or entry-level certification designed to validate a candidate’s overall understanding of the AWS cloud. It covers an understanding of basic AWS architectural principles, the value proposition of the AWS cloud, key AWS services, and their common use cases, along with basic security and compliance. Amazon Cloud Practitioner certification also includes deployment of operating principles, functioning on cloud costs, and incorporating economics and billing practices.

    • Eligibility: A candidate must have basic knowledge of the IT services and solutions and how they are used in the AWS platform. You should have a minimum of 6 months of working experience in the AWS cloud in a sale, managerial, purchase, technical, or financial role.
    • Exam Format: It has 65 questions - multiple choice or multiple responses.
    • Length: 90 minutes
    • AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam Cost - 100 USD

    AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

    2. AWS Certified Developer- Associate

    The Associate certification exam is all about developing and maintaining AWS-based applications and understanding the basic AWS architecture. It covers hands-on experience and working knowledge of applications that utilize key AWS services for storage and change management services.

    • Eligibility: Candidates must have experience working in a developer role with in-depth knowledge of at least one high-level programming language. They must also portray experience in AWS technology and other cloud services and expertise in writing actual code that uses AWS software to access AWS applications.
    • Exam Format: It has 65 questions - multiple choice or multiple responses.
    • Length: 130 minutes
    • Cost: 150 USD

    AWS Certified Developer Associate

    3. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator- Associate

    This AWS SysOps Associate certification is the only exam that is completely oriented toward system administrators and requires both technical expertise and conceptual knowledge of the operational aspects of the AWS platform. It covers deploying applications to the AWS platform across distributed architectures, sending and receiving data between data centers and multi-VPC architectures, selecting the best AWS services, and securing systems in an AWS environment. It is one of the toughest certifications that needs lots of preparation and practice.

    • Eligibility: Candidates must have a strong understanding of AWS cloud computing services, experience with system administration tasks, and familiarity with deploying and managing fault-tolerant systems. It is recommended to have an experience as a Linux or Windows administrator.
    • Exam Format: Since March 28, 2023, this Associate exam does not include exam labs and consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions with a passing score of 720.
    • Length: 130 minutes
    • Cost: 150 USD

    AWS Certified SysOps Administrator- Associate

    3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

    This AWS Architect Associate certification is for tech team leaders who must brush up on their skills to design, deploy, and manage applications on AWS cloud computing. This exam was updated in August 2022 and covers network technologies and how they work in AWS-based applications. It helps build secure and reliable applications on the AWS platform and deploy hybrid systems, along with cost optimization techniques.

    • Eligibility: Candidates should have at least 1 year of working experience designing and deploying applications on the AWS platform. AWS solution architect professional certification is best for those with experience designing distributed applications. The exam requires familiarity with AWS infrastructure, strong on-premises IT experience, and an understanding of mapping on-premises to the cloud.
    • Exam Format: The AWS Architect Associate exam has 65 questions with multiple choice or multiple responses. The minimum passing score is 720
    • Length: 130 minutes
    • Cost: 150 USD

    AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

    4. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer- Professional

    AWS-certified DevOps engineer exam is all about continuous delivery and the automation of processes, including managing applications on the AWS platform. The aspirants must have experience managing AWS-based applications and modern application development, such as the agile development methodology. The certification covers the basics of modern CD methodologies, managing them, setting up and monitoring security controls and logging systems on AWS, implementing scalable systems on AWS, and managing the automation of production operations. Job listings requiring this certification have increased by 52% between October 2021 and September 2022

    • Eligibility: This is for AWS-certified DevOps engineers with 2 or more years of experience provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments.
    • Exam Format: The exam is a multiple-choice, multiple-response test comprising 75 questions.
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    : AWS Certified DevOps Engineer- Professional

    5. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional

    This AWS-certified solutions architect professional certification was updated in November 2022 and includes more AWS services and best practices. The Professional certification validates the aspirant’s abilities to evaluate an organization’s requirements and make architectural recommendations for implementing and deploying applications on AWS. It covers selecting the right AWS service and ensures it is highly available, fault-tolerant, and reliable. It also helps professionals migrate complex application systems to AWS across a multi-tier architecture design and understand cost optimization strategies.

    • Eligibility: Candidates should be proficient in AWS CLI, AWS APIs, AWS CloudFormation templates, the AWS Billing Console, the AWS Management Console, a scripting language, and Windows and Linux environments. They should be able to provide best practice guidance, evaluate cloud application requirements, and design a hybrid architecture using key AWS technologies. They must have two years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS.
    • Exam Format: The AWS certified solutions architect professional exam has 75 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions.
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional

    6. AWS Certified Advanced Networking- Specialty

    Updated in July 2022, AWS Advanced Networking certification validates the aspirant’s skill and knowledge in performing complex networking tasks on AWS and hybrid IT networking architecture at scale. It covers designing, developing, and deploying cloud solutions with AWS, network optimization, and troubleshooting, implementing solutions to deliver architectural best practices, deploying security and compliance design and implementation, and automating AWS tasks for network deployments.

    • Eligibility: Candidates should have experience in architecting and implementing network solutions with advanced knowledge of networking on AWS. They should have professional experience using AWS technology, AWS security best practices, AWS storage options and their underlying consistency models, and AWS networking nuances. Familiarity with the development of automation scripts and tools and knowledge of CIDR and sub-netting (IPv4 and IPv6) is also required.
    • Exam Format: The AWS practice exam has a total of 65 questions that are either multiple-choice or multiple-response questions
    • Length: 170 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    : AWS Certified Advanced Networking- Specialty

    7. AWS Certified Security Specialty

    This AWS Certified Security Specialty certification focuses on IT Security, allowing professionals to stay updated with new security breaches and resolutions to challenge them. It helps them master security fundamentals, validate AWS knowledge across security topics, follow best practices, and build deep knowledge of key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS Certified Security Specialty professionals can delve deeper into areas related to data protection and encryption mechanisms, incident response, infrastructure security, identity, and logging and monitoring solutions.

    • Eligibility: Candidates must have a minimum of 5 years of IT security experience, designing and implementing security solutions, and two or more years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS
    • Exam Format: This AWS Security Specialty certification exam has 65 questions to be solved in 170 minutes, giving you roughly 2 1/2 minutes to attempt each question. The scaled score needed to pass the exam is 750.
    • Length: 170 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified Security Specialty

    8. AWS Certified Machine Learning - Specialty

    AWS Machine Learning Specialty certification helps portray a candidate’s potential to create, implement, and maintain cost-effective and secure machine learning solutions for various business problems using relevant AWS. It is one of the most challenging yet the most rewarding AWS certifications.

    • Eligibility: To appear for this certification, candidates should have the experience and expertise to perform a development or data science role. They should have one to two years of experience using ML and/or deep learning on the AWS Cloud.
    • Exam Format: Aspirants need a scaled score of 750 on 65 questions with questions based on 20% Data Engineering, 24% Exploratory Data Analysis, 36% Modeling, and 20% Machine Learning Implementation and Operations. 15 questions are practice-based for future exams that don’t get scored.
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified Machine Learning - Specialty

    9. AWS Certified Database- Specialty

    This AWS Specialty certification validates a professional’s comprehension of all the AWS database services and optimized database integration that adds value to the business. This certification covers database design, deployment and migration, management and operations, monitoring and troubleshooting, and security. This mid-level exam is easier than the machine learning certification exam.

    • Eligibility: This exam is for aspirants who are well-versed in databases and DB solutions. Candidates should have 2 years of experience working with AWS Cloud-based and on-premises relational and NoSQL databases.
    • Exam Format: 65 questions - multiple choice or multiple responses. The minimum passing score is 750.
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified Database- Specialty

    10. AWS Certified Data Analytics - Specialty

    AWS Data Analytics Specialty certification validates a candidate’s experience showcasing best practices for implementing core AWS Big Data services and extracting value from data using AWS services. It helps design, maintain, and visualize data and uses AWS tools for automating data analysis. The aspirant also learns security best practices for data analytics solutions and AWS services like Kinesis, Athena, Quicksight, and Rekognition. The exam requires candidates to understand the AWS ecosystem, big data technologies, and data analytics concepts.

    • Eligibility: This certification is for candidates with specialty certification, a background in data analytics, and experience using AWS services for designing and architecting big data solutions. Aspirants must have 5 years of experience as an IT security personnel in designing and implementing security solutions and 2 or more years of working experience in securing AWS workloads and knowledge of using security controls for AWS workloads.
    • Exam Format: The exam consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions that must be answered within 3 hours. The minimum passing score is 750.
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified Data Analytics- Specialty

    11. AWS Certified SAP on AWS - Specialty

    AWS Certified SAP on AWS – Specialty is one of the newest certifications released in April 2022. This certification is for professionals who aim to design an SAP solution that runs in the AWS Cloud. Such solutions should adhere to SAP certification and support requirements within the AWS Well-Architected Framework. This is for professionals who look forward to implementing, migrating, and operating new and existing SAP workloads on AWS. AWS Certified SAP on AWS - Specialty is the top certification of the 10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications for 2023, according to PCMag.

    • Eligibility: This certification is for professionals who want to showcase their critical knowledge of SAP solutions and workloads running in the AWS Cloud. Candidates must have 5 or more years of SAP experience and 1 or more years of experience working with SAP on AWS.
    • Exam Format: The exam comprises 65 multiple-choice questions with multiple answers. Questions can cover charts, graphics, or real-world scenarios for further elaboration. The minimum passing score is 750
    • Length: 180 minutes
    • Cost: 300 USD

    AWS Certified SAP on AWS - Specialty

    Is AWS Certification Hard?

    The difficulty level of AWS certifications is relative and varies from person to person. For a beginner, even the foundation certification could be tough to crack, while for an experienced professional, obtaining an AWS Specialty Certification could be a piece of cake. AWS certifications are hard for professionals new to Cloud-based concepts or switching from one area of expertise to another.

    Since AWS certifications hold a massive value and abundant growth opportunities, several candidates may feel pressure before attempting the exam. However, it is important to remember that these certifications will help you validate and demonstrate your skills, know-how, and experience. Thus, instead of pressurizing yourself, you must seek the right assistance and the best online professional Cloud Engineering courses, follow a stringent study schedule, and dedicate a fixed number of hours to your preparation.

    A solid understanding of concepts, thorough dedication, drive to lead the way, ambition to be at the forefront of innovation, and willingness to learn will make these certifications much easier to obtain!

    Are AWS Certification Exams Worth It?

    Any certification that helps you accelerate your career, makes your profile stand out among other professionals, and enhances your skill, knowledge, and education is worth it. AWS certification exams come at different levels, which allow you to demonstrate your proficiency, efficiency, aptitude, and diligence in the field.

    Besides showcasing your technical skills, such certifications also encourage you to highlight your determination, commitment, and strength to take up recognized AWS credentials. The demand for AWS experts is high, and the supply of certified AWS professionals is limited. This means it brings you the best opportunity to excel with your existing credentials and experience.

    Organizations are looking at building teams that excel in Cloud initiatives using AWS Certification validations. Thus, it is important to go further in your career, enhance your pay package, and gain unlimited experience and expertise with AWS certifications.


    Completing AWS certifications requires 100% dedication, effort, and time investment. Besides using your skills, education, and experience, gaining hands-on practicality in everyday tasks and proficiency in practices is important to excel in AWS certifications. The Professional and Specialty Level certifications can be tough to crack, thus demanding extra time and effort. However, clearing your certification will give you extra support to boost your career with the right experience and skills.

    You can depend on KnowledgeHut Cloud Computing courses that will help you stand out in the crowd, dominate the cloud platform space, and crack the toughness of any AWS certification exam. So, strive to maximize your certification, expand your AWS knowledge and experience, and take advantage of the career growth slope it leads to.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the AWS certification salary?

    Candidates with AWS certifications attract some of the highest salaries in the industry. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional is one of the 15 Top-Paying Certifications List, averaging $158,485 per year (top 5 salaries). In the US and Canada, professionals can make an average of $128,467, again ranked as one of the highest-paying certification categories.

    The average salary for an AWS Certified Developer is $165,333; for an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional, it is $158,485; for an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, it is $148,348; for AWS Certified Big Data — Specialty, it is $134,793, while for an AWS Certified Security – Specialty, the mean salary is $146,300

    2Is it easy to pass the AWS exam?

    The ease of passing the AWS exam depends on your existing skills, knowledge, hands-on experience, and caliber. The AWS certification exam is easy for an experienced person, while it may be difficult for a beginner.

    3How long does AWS certification take?

    Completing AWS certification depends mainly on the aspirant’s expertise, existing skills, educational qualification, speed, and knowledge. Besides, it also depends on whether the candidate is applying for Foundational, Associate, Professional, or Specialty AWS certification. One must follow a stringent study schedule and dedicate a minimum of 1 hour of study daily for basic levels, contributing an extra number of hours for the Professional and specialty certifications.


    Kingson Jebaraj

    Multi Cloud Architect

    Kingson Jebaraj is a highly respected technology professional, recognized as both a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and an Alibaba Most Valuable Professional. With a wealth of experience in cloud computing, Kingson has collaborated with renowned companies like Microsoft, Reliance Telco, Novartis, Pacific Controls UAE, Alibaba Cloud, and G42 UAE. He specializes in architecting innovative solutions using emerging technologies, including cloud and edge computing, digital transformation, IoT, and programming languages like C, C++, Python, and NLP. 

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