What is the Learning Path to Become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate?

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11st Mar, 2021
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06th Sep, 2019
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What is the Learning Path to Become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate?

The AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification is designed to help you in architecting and deploying AWS solutions using AWS’ best practices. The training content consists of about 70 hours of content with video courses, hands-on labs, and a preparation exam. After getting certified, you will be able to architect, secure, manage, and optimize deployment and operations on the AWS platform.

The aim of this certification is to help you demonstrate your skills in key areas like:

  • Designing and deploying highly available, reliable, dynamically scalable, and fault-tolerant applications on the AWS platform.
  • Choosing the right AWS service for the application.
  • Implementing strategies for cost control.
  • Designing and deploying enterprise-wide scalable operations on the AWS platform.

The exam will cover 5 domains which can be broken down as:

AWS exam Covers 5 domains

  1. Designing organization complexity – 12.5%
  2. Designing new solutions – 31%
  3. Cost optimization – 12.5%
  4. Planning for migration – 15%
  5. Improving existing solutions – 29%

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate learning path

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate learning path

Learning path to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is designed in such a way that anyone can learn designing systems and applications on the AWS platform. With these recommended courses, laboratories, and examinations, you will be able to build your skills and move along to the path of getting the AWS certification. The learning path for AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate can be defined as:

1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or AWS Technical Essentials

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam is a 1.5 hours long digital exam that will test your knowledge of the AWS cloud. The certification will validate your knowledge in four domains: cloud concept, technology, security, and billing & pricing.

AWS Technical essentials course cover the fundamentals of the AWS services to help you make informed decisions regarding the IT solutions required to fulfill your business needs.k

2. Architecting on AWS

Architecting on AWS is a 3-days long classroom course that covers the basic concepts of using the AWS platform to build IT infrastructure. After this course, you will be able to build resilient and scalable solutions in the cloud.

3. Exam Readiness: Solutions Architect – Associate

This Exam Readiness: Solutions Architect –Associate intermediate-level, classroom course is 4-hours long that covers all the topic areas of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam. You will be reviewing the same questions from each topic and map them to architecting on AWS. This will help you focus on specific areas of study.

4. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

This is a 130 minutes long exam that will validate your skills in architecting and deploying robust and secure applications on the AWS platform.

AWS Solutions Architect’s Roles and Responsibilities

Role and Responsibilities of a Solutions Architect are following:

  1. Conducting evaluations, designing and analyzing the systems used in the enterprise.
  2. Stimulating appropriate design by leveraging the evaluation of the industry’s strength using tools like IBM Rational.
  3. Ensuring delivery of robust business solutions by the application architecture team.
  4. Developing, enhancing, and maintaining service design process for assuring robust design.
  5. Working closely with the enterprise architect for assuring constant compliance of strategies, architecture, and blueprints. 
  6. Providing architect team with solutions alert for developing business-oriented project.
  7. Planning, designing, and executing storage solutions for the company.
  8. Ensuring the testing assistance for developing storage solutions.
  9. Preparing and presenting test plans, presentations, reports, analysis briefings, and white papers.
  10. Suggest practices that can be used for developing storage solutions.
  11. Collaborating with the IT team to make sure that the architectural solutions can be effectively implemented.
  12. Managing the platform layout and continuing configuration of storage infrastructure.
  13. Identifying requirements of the customer, analyzing alternatives, and conducting recommendations for the product.
  14. Conversing with sales personnel and performing demonstrations.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Requirements

Once the organization has understood what are the roles and responsibilities of a Solutions Architect, they can start recruiting the right person for the job. A good Solutions Architect must have the following core skills:

  • Technical background:

As a solutions architect, you will be required to have working experience in the IT sector that includes IT infrastructure, architecture, and cloud development, business analysis, product/project management, DevOps, Software architecture design, etc.

  • Communications skills:

A Solutions Architect has to negotiate with the stakeholders, understand the need of the customer, and manage product delivery and risks. You must be good at listening, advising, and explaining as you will be working with software architects, project teams, and business analysts.

  • Deep analytical skills:

You must have an understanding of how the business works. You must be good at recognizing the strategies and processes that will help the organization achieve its goals. This way, you can deal with analytics as well as move between different business layers.

  • Management skills:

Even though they won’t be directly involved in the management of the project, they will have to account for given resources and deadlines. They must be able to make decisions about what works for the project and what does not. They are focused on giving satisfying business results in the given resources and timeframe.

To achieve this, you must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in IT, Computer Science, Software Engineering or any other related field. Additional certifications from AWS, Microsoft, IBM, etc. are optional but impactful. You must have in-depth knowledge of computer systems, web platforms, database management, operating systems, and security measures. You must also be able to communicate information to technical as well as non-technical members of the team. 

To fulfill these requirements, you can follow these steps:

  • Degree

You will need a bachelor’s or higher degree in the field of computer science, information technology, or software engineering. During your undergraduate program, topics like hardware compatibility training, operating systems, etc. will be covered. If you are going for a Master’s degree, you will be needing specialization in systems architecture. Some others go for MBA in Information Systems. In the Master’s degree coursework, concepts like systems design, software engineering, project management, and advanced computer architecture are included. In some colleges, along with the undergraduate training, a graduate-level certification is offered in systems architecture. During college, you must work on your communications skills as you will be working as a liaison between the engineers and the business managers. You must also be able to communicate your needs to the non-technical employees. 

  • Certification

It is not mandatory. However, it will display your expertise as a solutions architect. Some organizations even ask the solutions architects working for them to get periodic training or get certified. Many organizations that provide these certification programs in enterprise and systems architecture offer programs for teams and individuals. 

  • Experience

Relevant working experience will help advance your career. It must be in the field of business intelligence tools or complex database management system. During this time, you will be learning about different software programs and technology platforms. Also, you can try taking independent contractor jobs.

AWS Solutions Architect Certification validity

The AWS Solutions Architect Certification is created for professionals who have experience in creating distributed applications. With this certification, you will be able to validate your skills of designing, implementing, and managing applications using the services and tools provided on the AWS platform. To get this certification, you will be required to take a 130 minutes long multiple-choice, multiple-answer exam that costs 150 USD. In the exam, the following areas will be covered:

  • Using network technologies on the AWS platform
  • Connecting the AWS platform to the client’s interface
  • Building reliable and secure applications
  • Developing hybrid systems with AWS components and on-premises data center
  • Designing scalable and highly available systems on AWS
  • Implementing and deploying applications on AWS
  • Data security practices, troubleshooting, and disaster recovery methods used on AWS

AWS certification uses its thoroughness and rigor for evaluating the skills of a candidate. They focus on best practices and hands-on experience. If your organization uses AWS, a certification will clear your concepts and strengthening your knowledge. If you have no experience working on AWS, the certification will build a foundation of skills and knowledge used for working with AWS solutions. With the AWS certifications, you will have validated your expertise in some of the most profitable and in-demand skills from the most reputed and recognizable service provider in cloud computing. AWS is still the number one provider of public cloud computing, where 68% of SMBs and 64% of enterprises are running applications on the AWS platform.

Once you get the AWS certification, it will be valid for 3 years from the date you passed your certification exam. For maintaining the status of your AWS certification, you have to demonstrate your expertise periodically through recertification. It will not only strengthen the value of your certificate but also display to your employers that you have the latest knowledge, best practices, and skills related to AWS.

For recertifying the AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Associate, you can just retake the current exam. You will get a 50% discount voucher in the benefits section of the AWS certification exam. Also, you can just earn a professional-level certificate that will satisfy your associate-level recertification requirement.

There is an AWS Certification Program Agreement containing terms for governing your participation in the certification program, entering the AWS, Inc., which is a part of the customer agreement. To get an AWS certification, you must have:

  • Taken the certification exam and passed
  • Complied with the requirements of the AWS certification
  • Adhered to the rules and regulations applied on the program

When you have the AWS certificate and are working on the AWS platform, you must be:

  • Conducting activities in a competent and professional manner
  • Promoting the AWS services maintaining its name and reputation
  • Not making any guarantees, warranties, and representations related to AWS or its features, specifications, and capabilities
  • Not engaging in any false, illegal or deceptive practices
  • Complying with the terms of the customer agreement

As a holder of the AWS certification, you have the right to use the name of your AWS certification. This right is revoked when your AWS certification is terminated or no longer valid. Also, AWS can revoke your license at any time by giving you a written notice.

AWS Solutions Architect Associate Required Skills
AWS Solutions Architect Associate Required Skills

Solutions architect is an in-demand tech job. Organizations are hiring Solutions Architects to help them design and develop advanced cloud-based solutions as well as migrate their infrastructure and workload to the existing AWS cloud. There are limitless virtual resources on the AWS platform that can be provisioned and disposed of. With these many resources available at their disposal, a Solutions Architect must have the skills to handle the data and infrastructure. Here are a few skills a solutions architect must have:

1. Programming language

It is the most basic and important skills for a Solutions Architect. Since they have a background in software development, this won’t be new to them. As a solutions architect, you must be skilled in Python, Java, C# or any programming language with an official AWS SDK. Having programming skills will help you to create logical and viable solutions. Also, it can be used for creating a demo or proof of concept for showing a point or learning how to use the latest technology.

2. Networking

Knowledge of networks like DNS, VP, HTTP, TCP/IP, and CDN will help you in creating a scalable and secure cloud-based solutions. You must also have working experience in services like CloudFront (CDN), Route 53 (DNS), and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). This will help you in using the public as well as private subnets, VPC peering, and internet access for designing your cloud network.

3. Data Storage

As a Solutions Architect, you must have knowledge of databases. There are several data storage options available on the AWS platform. This includes powerful and simple bucket storage like S3, relational database service, and Hadoop clusters. To select the one for your company’s data, you will have to compare different databases’ performance, capabilities, and price.

4. Security

There are services and guidelines laid down by the AWS like securing access to your data and AWS account to ensure that only authorized people and code are allowed for performing specific tasks. You must also have a thorough understanding of the Identity and Access Management (IAM) that is used for defining which user and services can access the resources. You need to learn about securing your network through Access Control Lists and Security Groups.

5. AWS Service Selection

When it comes to cloud architecture, AWS provides several front-end as well as back-end technologies. As a solutions architect, you must have the skills required for knowing which services are relevant to your organization. You must know what your end goal is. For this, you must have knowledge of SNS (notifications), SQS (Simple Queuing), RDS (Relational Database Service), and IoT related services.

6. Cloud-specific technologies

There are different rules while using cloud. As long as you correctly design and harness AWS infrastructure, availability, scalability, and recovery are comparatively easy. To create cost-effective and scalable applications, you need to use storing state and messages, and handle failures correctly. If you want to create applications which can be scaled through creating instances of the same service, you need to use patterns like eventual consistency, queuing, and pub/sub.

7. Communication

You need to be able to explain your vision to managers, software developers, and fellow architects through documents, emails and presentations. You need to learn how to write in a concise, clear way, presenting your idea and displaying complex environments through diagramming tools. 

Apart from the above-mentioned skills, you must have the following relevant working experience:

  1. Software development
  2. Data security
  3. Networking
  4. AWS

Also, you must have hands-on experience working with Linux, the architect’s toolbox (Chef, Puppet, Docker, Capistrano, Jenkins, and Ansible), Infrastructure as code (CloudFormation), advanced project management tools, etc.

Why Architecting in AWS?

With Architecting in AWS, you will be able to perform the following:

  • Application of the framework
  • Managing multiple accounts for the organization
  • Connecting the AWS cloud to the on-premises data
  • Discussing the billing to connect VPCs of multi-region
  • Transferring large data to AWS from the on-premises data center
  • Designing large data centers
  • Understanding architectural designs used to scale a large website
  • Protecting the infrastructure
  • Using encryption to secure the data
  • Enhancing the solutions’ performance

Once you get the AWS Solutions Architect certification, you will have a high-opportunity market and greater earning potential. This certification is one of the best paying certifications in the IT sector. It is perfect for people working on improving their AWS cloud skills pursuing a worthy certification path. Also, Solutions Architect working on the AWS with the certification can get an average annual salary of $114,000.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam Schedule

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam Schedule

To prepare for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam, you will need at least three months during which, you will cover the AWS ecosystem and general concepts of cloud computing. The first step is to create a document where you will mention everything that you will learn. This will be your study guide.

  • The first month

The task for the first month is to lay the groundwork. In this, you will get an introduction to the Ecosystem of AWS and how core AWS services interact with each other. It is the hardest month. So, you need to stay focused and vigilant.

  • The second month

This month you build the foundation. You need to keep up with your pace. During this month, you will be covering concepts like auto-scaling, load balancing, etc.

  • The third month

Up until now, you have covered all the important topics. Now, you have to do some reading, go through FAQs and white papers. Also, study the best AWS practices

Once you think you are ready, you can schedule your exam. To schedule your AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps:

  1. Sign in to aws.training. Next, click Certification in the top navigation.
  2. Click AWS Certification Account, followed by Schedule New Exam.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect salary in India

AWS certification exams are in great demand and are now offered in multiple languages across the globe. As more and more companies are making the move to AWS, it has led to an increase in salaries of professionals who are AWS certified. Designed for solutions architects, system operations administrators, and developers, AWS certifications are role based. So they can be used by candidates working at associate as well as professional level. For solutions architect, AWS offers certifications for the associate and professional level. To be eligible for the professional level certification, you must have the associate level certification.

In India, the average pay for an AWS Certified Solutions Architect is Rs 10,00,000. 

Your salary will also depend on your experience in terms of prior knowledge of database, operating system, network, and best practices used in AWS. Also, your expertise level varies with the certification you have. An AWS certification will help you get priority over other professionals.

With so many job profiles, it is clear the cloud computing jobs are increasing every year. According to the report by Gartner Forecasts Worldwide, the market of Cloud computing is expected to reach $411B by the year 2020. Also, from the year 2015 to 2018, the AWS adoption rate has increased to 68%.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam 

If you want to get started in cloud computing and start developing applications on the AWS platform, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the services offered by the AWS. For this, you need AWS certification. For solutions architect, there is an associate-level and a professional-level certification. Once you have prepared for the exam, you need to get ready for it. For this, you need to understand the following:

1. Types of Questions

If you have been taking practice tests, you will have a firm grasp on the subject. Every certification exam covers certain material and you must have a thorough understanding of every concept to be confident. AWS certification exams have multiple choice and/or multiple answer questions. All the questions are real-world scenario based with charts and graphs for more detail. To test your knowledge, ambiguous questions are written.

2. Format of the exam

All the certification exams offered by AWS have the same format where at a time, only one question is displayed. There is an option to mark the question for later. After you have gone through all the questions, a list of every answered question will be displayed. The selected options will be displayed as letters. There will an asterisk next to the questions that were marked for later. 

3. Cost and duration of the Certification exam

The cost of the associate-level certification is $150 while the professional-level certification costs $300. The duration also varies for both the exam. For the associate-level, the duration is 130 minutes while that for the professional-level is 170 minutes.

4. Environment for the test

You can use Pearson VUE or the PSI network for taking the AWS exam. For admission, you will have to show two personal identifications at the exam center. The primary identification includes a valid driver’s license issued by the government and passport. For secondary identification, you can either use a second primary ID form or your debit card.  There are no personal items, food, and drinks allowed in the test area. Also, people wearing watches, eyewear, or GPS tracking device will be inspected. You can request paper, pencil, marker, or whiteboard.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam Retake Policy

Getting AWS certified will help bring tremendous job growth and multiple job opportunities. One of the most common questions people ask is what to do if you fail the certification exam. There can be many reasons behind this like inadequate preparation or it might not have been just your day. One thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. Worrying about whether you can pass the certification exam or not will only hinder your preparation. There are a lot of people who have failed the AWS certification exam. After all, they are difficult exams which can separate masters in AWS from the others. You need to remember that plenty of people pass the certification exam too. Having stress of the exam is common. The important thing is to remember how to manage that stress. Every now and then, you need to take a break and maintain the work-life balance. When there are just a few days left for the exam, you will start to doubt yourself and feel underprepared. Take a deep breath and remember that you have worked hard and prepared well for the exam.

After you have taken the exam, you will be immediately shown your results on the screen. However, there is no single passing score. Instead, AWS has a statistical method to determine if you passed or failed. The passing scores change every exam. If you win the exam, you will receive an AWS Certified logo, digital badge, and an e-certificate within 72 hours. However, if even after all the preparation you still fail, don’t feel disappointed. It is a tough exam and not everyone clears in first attempt. You will be eligible to retake the exam after 14 days. There is no exam limit. You can retake the exam as many times as you want. However, for every attempt, you will have to pay the complete registration price. For beta exam test takers, only one attempt is available.

After AWS Solutions Architect Certification

After you have passed the exam, within 72 hours, you will get an AWS Certified logo, a digital badge and an e-certificate in your AWS account. You can use the digital badges to display your status on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media website. Within 5 days of finishing the exam, you will receive a transcript of your results.

The IT landscape is shifting more and more towards cloud computing. This has led to an increase in prominence of the AWS. And with this certification, you will be ready for the change as the following skills will be validated by a renowned brand:

  • Architecting and deploying robust and secure applications using the AWS
  • Using the principles of architectural design for defining a solution that fulfills all the requirements of the customer.
  • Using the best practices for implementation.

After you get your certificate, you should start working on projects. If you have old projects hosted on a web server, you can migrate them on to the AWS platform.

All the figures mentioned above are accurate as of August 2019 and are sourced from online job portals such as Indeed.com, Salary.com, Glassdoor.com, etc.

Profile

Joydip Kumar

Solution Architect

Joydip is passionate about building cloud-based applications and has been providing solutions to various multinational clients. Being a java programmer and an AWS certified cloud architect, he loves to design, develop, and integrate solutions. Amidst his busy work schedule, Joydip loves to spend time on writing blogs and contributing to the opensource community.