Is the AWS Solutions Architect – Professional Worth It?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revolutionized the way we develop, deploy, and maintain websites and applications. However, finding the right people to lay the groundwork for a cohesive cloud business strategy is exceedingly difficult. Earning an AWS certification can put you in prime position to fill that void. And one of AWS' most popular and respected certifications is the AWS Solutions Architect – Professional.
IT pros who hold AWS Solutions Architect – Professional certification can command an average salary of $160,000, which illustrates that demand for AWS skills and expertise. While the certification may be desirable to obtain, it may not mesh with your career goals. So, let's explore what the certification is, the exam objectives, and a couple of different roles that would be perfectly suited for this certification.
What is AWS Solution Architect – Professional?
Amazon provides three tiers of certifications: entry, associate, and professional. The objective of the professional level, particularly solutions architect, is to validate that you can build, deploy, and accurately scale AWS to the required specifications.
It is highly recommended that the test taker already have professional experience prior to taking the exam. In fact, Amazon recommends that you have at least two years of hands-on experience designing and implementing AWS architecture prior to taking the exam. If you are still green with regard to AWS, it would be a wise idea to begin your AWS journey with a entry-level certification; such as Cloud Practitioner or Solutions Architect – Associate
The exam is multiple-choice, costs $300 USD, and is three hours long. It is a closely monitored, proctored exam. However, it can be taken from the comfort of your own home. While the exam is moderately expensive, AWS does offer a more affordable practice exam for $40. It is highly recommended that you take the practice exam prior to the actual exam.
Who Should Take Solutions Architect – Professional?
The most important thing to remember about this exam is it assumes you have experience using the AWS platform. If you have little to no cloud experience, the odds of you earning this certification are not good — you should start by earning an associate-level cert.
If you're already an architect, this certification will validate your current knowledge and ensure your skills are current — both of which are important to staying relevant in your career.
Let's discuss several roles where AWS Solutions Architect – Professional would be highly beneficial.
AWS Cloud Developers
For a developer who regularly works with AWS, this cert is a viable option, and there are several reasons why that is the case. Your typical developer will have a deep understanding of CloudFormation Templates, AWS API's, and the AWS CLI. However, there may be a strong desire to see the other side — such as the management console and the billing console. An AWS Solutions Architect-Professional certification provides the knowledge and confidence to navigate these business oriented aspects of AWS.
In addition to giving a developer confidence of the business, it will reinforce their existing knowledge. This is especially true in the CloudFormation domain. Many architects oversee anything and everything IaaS related, namely the CloudFormation Templates and their associated diagrams.
While the majority of product owners are business-oriented subject matter experts, there are certain cases where a technologically mature individual is needed. The typical product owner serves as a liaison between developers and stakeholders of the product. However, if a group of developers are working on a product in its nascent stages, a traditional product owner may not fit the bill.
This is the perfect time to fill that role with an architect who understands the finer details of the business workflow. A PO who has the knowledge and experience to obtain a Solutions Architect – Professional certification can bolster the confidence of both the stakeholders and the developers. There is nothing better than applying best practices to a project starting from the ground up.
It is not enough for a job to just get done. It must be done satisfactorily and up to specification. Oftentimes this involves an independent auditor reviewing a system to catch bugs otherwise missed by the developers. If you are an auditor of IT systems then this certification would be a perfect fit onto your resume.
For example, let's say the federal government is looking for an auditor of their new top-secret app hosted on AWS GovCloud. The G-men have it narrowed down to two candidates from two different consulting agencies: you, and some other auditor. If you are a certified AWS professional, and the other one is not, who do you think they will pick? The answer is clear: get ready for those tedious security briefings.
Is AWS Solutions Worth It?
We aren't going to mince words: this exam is hard. But it's worth the time and effort to get the AWS Solutions Architect-Professional. Whether you are a developer wishing to become an architect, or a DevOps engineer vying for that manager position, this AWS certification is guaranteed to help you.
Finally, it should be stressed again that roles requiring this certification pay very well — and are highly sought after. Ultimately, the AWS Solutions Architect – Professional is certainly worth it if you work with AWS every day.