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Roadmap to Success: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article on August 2, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft Server 2012 certification curriculum.

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect certification, at the Associate level, is intended to affirm a learner’s skills and knowledge in order to deploy a highly-available, cost-effective, and auto-scaling AWS solution. A growing number of businesses and organizations are moving to the cloud, making experienced and knowledgeable admins highly desirable.

Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (AWS CSA – Associate)
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (AWS CSA – Associate) certification is designed for IT professionals looking to validate their expertise related to AWS administration. The certification focuses on:

  • Designing and deploying scalable, highly available, and fault tolerant systems on AWS;
  • Lift and shift of an existing on-premises application to AWS;
  • Ingress and egress of data to and from AWS;
  • Selecting the appropriate AWS service based on data, compute, database, or security requirements;
  • Identifying appropriate use of AWS architectural best practices; and
  • Estimating AWS costs and identifying cost control mechanisms.

The AWS CSA – Associate certification is made up of one exam, which is covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Though there are no prerequisites for the AWS CSA – Associate certification, it is considered an intermediate-level certification, requiring hands-on experience with AWS. For those pursuing the AWS CSA – Associate certification, we recommend that learners have a minimum of 1-2 years of experience working directly with AWS, particularly an in-depth knowledge of at least one high-level programming language, ability to identify and define requirements for an AWS-based application, and experience with deploying hybrid systems with on-premises and AWS components. Learners also should complete the CBT Nuggets AWS: Technical Essentials course in preparation for the AWS CSA – Associate.

Exam Details
Time allotted for exam: 80 minutes
Passing score: AWS does not publish the passing score for its exams
Question types: Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Sample Directions
Exam registration: AWS Exam Registration*
*Exam registration requires an active AWS Certification Account.
Exam cost: $150 (USD)*
*AWS provides practice exams at the cost of $20 (USD). Please note that the practice exams require an active AWS Certification Account.
Exam Blueprint: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (free resource)
AWS Whitepapers: AWS recommends intensive study of related whitepapers (free resource)
Sample Questions: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (free resource)
Hands-on Practice: AWS Self-Paced Labs (most are free, some advanced labs require credits to purchase)

The AWS CSA – Associate certification is valid for two years from the date of certification. To recertify, learners must pass a recertification exam or a higher-level exam. The AWS CSA – Associate recertification exam costs $75 and learners are allotted 80 minutes to complete the exam, and the recertification exam uses the same exam blueprint as for the full exam.

The Next Step
Many learners who earn their AWS CSA – Associate certification choose to continue their careers within the realm of AWS. Therefore, many choose to pursue the next step in the CSA certification path, the AWS CSA – Professional. Others may choose to diversify their AWS certification vitae with other certification tracks such as the AWS Certified Developer – Associate or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate.

Other learners may choose to diversify their certification resume by pursuing other cloud solution certifications. Options include:

Career Considerations provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the AWS CSA – Associate. Depending on professional experience, an employee who holds an AWS CSA – Associate certification can earn between $74,658 and $185,476 annually. Roles that are common for those holding an AWS CSA – Associate certification include cloud engineer, developer, senior developer, systems engineer, and application engineer.

AWS Certifications
AWS certifications are offered at three levels: Specialty, Associate, and Professional. Associate-level certification is a prerequisite to the Professional-level certifications within the same track. AWS certification tracks include:

Architecting Track

Developing Track

Operations Track

Specialty Certifications require a current Associate- or Professional-level certification as a prerequisite.

Concluding Thoughts
As the workplace continues to evolve and organizations become increasingly dependent on cloud technologies, employers are on the hunt for IT professionals with the skills and expertise to support, scale, and ultimately grow the organization. The AWS CSA – Associate demonstrates your knowledge and experience in an area with tremendous growth potential. Launch your career into the cloud by earning certifications that will open doors and create opportunities!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate!

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