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Which AWS Certification Should I Choose?

Cloud computing talent is the need of the hour, and prominent public cloud platforms such as AWS stand at the receiving end. The AWS certification model can serve great support to all the aspiring candidates who want to work with AWS cloud. However, many freshers are doubtful about the choice of AWS certifications. Beginners are bound to have concerns regarding the selection of the best AWS certifications for their career.

Some may think of pursuing the most popular AWS certifications while other freshers may think of choosing the certification that suits their existing skillset. However, one thing is clear, and that is the never-ending demand for tech talent for AWS. So, if you want to know which AWS certification is in demand for making a choice, then you might face a lot of confusion.

Read How to Advance Your Career With AWS Certification

The following discussion helps you cover important details about different categories of AWS certifications and respective exam details. Readers can use the following discussion to choose the ideal AWS certification they would like to pursue on the basis of skills and knowledge required for each certification exam. With a clear impression of the responsibilities that candidates have to assume in the professional AWS-based job roles after qualifying certifications, candidates can make better choices.

List of AWS Certifications

AWS certification program is a great platform for all professionals to showcase evidence of their AWS skills and knowledge. Freshers can use AWS certifications to train for in-demand skills, and employers can find valuable prospects for designing competent teams.

AWS certifications prove the capabilities of professionals for leveraging AWS services, tools, and technologies to address various cloud infrastructure requirements. Presently, AWS provides certifications in four different categories –

  1. Foundational Level Certification
  2. Associate Level Certification
  3. Professional Level Certification
  4. Specialty Level Certifications

Let us take a brief overview of the different certification exams in each category to find which one suits you!

Foundational Level Certification

The first category of AWS certifications is the foundational level certification. AWS has only one foundational-level certification, and it does not align with any professional role.

1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is a ticket to entry-level jobs in AWS cloud. AWS recommends that candidates must have at least six months of training in the basics of AWS Cloud.

In addition, candidates are recommended to have comprehensive information about the cloud computing industry in general. The total duration of the foundational AWS certification will be 90 minutes, and candidates can register for the exam at $100 USD. The exam tests the capabilities of candidates for the following responsibilities.

  • Definition of AWS cloud and its basic global infrastructure.
  • Description of general AWS cloud architectural principles.
  • Description of the value proposition of AWS cloud.
  • Notable AWS services and their general use cases.
  • Common security and compliance aspects on AWS and shared security model.
  • Billing, pricing models, and account management for AWS.
  • General or core traits for deployment and operations on AWS Cloud.
  • Selection of proper documentation sources and technical support.


Associate Level Certifications

The associate-level certifications showcase a proper beginning to AWS certification path. Candidates can choose their respective roles and choose the certification accordingly. AWS recommends at least one year of hands-on experience in deploying solutions and problem solving with AWS cloud.

The three certification exams in the associate AWS certification category are ideal for solutions architect, developer, and SysOps administration roles. The total duration for all associate-level certifications is 130 minutes, and the registration cost is $150 USD. Let us reflect on the abilities required for each certification exam in the associate category.

1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification is the perfect pick for any individual aspiring to build a career in designing cloud solution infrastructures. The certification exam tests the abilities of candidates for the following professional responsibilities,

  • Architecture and deployment of applications based on AWS technologies with higher security and resilience.
  • Definition of a solution on the basis of customer specifications and relevant architectural design principles.
  • Facility of implementation guidance throughout project lifecycle according to the organization’s best practices.

2. AWS Certified Developer Associate

If you want to develop cloud-based solutions on AWS, then you can pursue the AWS Developer associate certification. This AWS certification tests the skills of candidates for the following professional responsibilities.

  • Fluency in core AWS services, their applications, and the best practices of fundamental AWS architecture.
  • Comprehensive expertise in the development, deployment, and debugging of cloud-based applications through AWS services, tools, and technologies.

3. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate

Candidates aspiring for systems operations role could choose the AWS SysOps Administrator Associate certification. The certification evaluates the capabilities of candidates to take on the following professional responsibilities.

  • Deploying, managing and operations of AWS systems while ensuring availability, fault-tolerance, and scalability.
  • Implementation of ingoing and outgoing data flow for AWS with specific controls.
  • Selection of ideal AWS service for different compute, security & data requirements.
  • Choosing the best utilization of best practices in AWS operations.
  • Migration of on-premises workloads to AWS Cloud.
  • Evaluation of AWS usage costs and identification of mechanisms for cost control in operations.


Professional Level Certifications

The professional AWS certification is ideal for AWS professionals who have at least two years of in-depth experience and knowledge of AWS tasks such as design and operations of AWS-based solutions. In addition, the professional AWS certifications also require candidates to have comprehensive hands-on experience in troubleshooting issues with solutions by leveraging AWS Cloud. The total duration of professional AWS certification exams will be 180 minutes. Candidates can register for the exams at a cost of $300 USD. Let us take a look at the details of the two certification exams in this category.

1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional

Candidates having worked in the role of solutions architect for more than two years can choose the AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification. The exam would test the capabilities of candidates in the following specialized responsibilities in higher roles.

  • Designing and deploying AWS applications characterized by dynamic scalability, fault-tolerance, reliability, and high availability.
  • Placing relevant strategies for controlling costs.
  • Migration of complex, multi-tier applications to the AWS cloud.
  • Choosing relevant AWS services for designing and deploying an application according to specific requirements.
  • Design of highly scalable AWS operations and ensuring their enterprise-wide deployment.

2. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional

The AWS DevOps Engineer Professional is a suitable professional AWS certification for capitalizing on the benefits of the DevOps trend. The certification would test the abilities of candidates to take on the following professional responsibilities as AWS DevOps Engineer.

  • Implementing AWS continuous delivery systems and methodologies alongside ensuring management.
  • Implementing security controls, compliance validation and governance processes alongside ensuring their automation.
  • Definition of AWS monitoring, logging and metrics systems and their deployment.
  • Implementation of self-healing, scalable and highly-available systems on AWS.
  • Design, management, and maintenance of tools for automation of operational processes.

Specialty Level Certifications

The specialty AWS certification category focuses largely on proving specialization in certain skills. AWS recommends technical experience in the concerned specialty domain on AWS cloud as a prerequisite for specialty certification exams. The duration of specialty certification exams varies between 170 to 180 minutes, and the registration cost for all specialty exams is $300 USD. Let us take a look at an overview of the six AWS specialty certifications as follows.

1. AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty

The AWS Certified advanced networking specialty checks candidates to carry out the following responsibilities.

  • Designing cloud-based AWS solutions along with development and deployment.
  • Implementation of core AWS services on basis of best practices for basic AWS architecture.
  • Designing networking architecture for AWS services and their maintenance.
  • Using tools for automation of AWS networking tasks.

2. AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty

AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty certification tests the skills and knowledge of candidates for following specialized tasks,

  • Definition of AWS data analytics services and their interplay.
  • Knowledge of the fit between AWS data analytics and the data lifecycle.

3. AWS Certified Security Specialty

The AWS Security Specialty certification provides a comprehensive evaluation of the skills of candidates in the following areas,

  • Specialized data classifications and mechanisms for AWS data protection.
  • Data encryption methods and relevant AWS mechanisms.
  • Secure internet protocols.
  • AWS security services and their features.
  • Hands-on production deployment experience by leveraging AWS security features and services.
  • Skills for trade-off decisions.
  • Security operations and associated risks.

4. AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty

One of the recent additions in AWS certification is AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty. This certification tests the following skills,

  • Selection and validation of relevant ML approach for specific business use cases.
  • Selection of relevant AWS services for implementing ML solutions.
  • Designing and implementing ML solutions with scalability, security, reliability, and cost-optimization.

5. AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder Specialty

The AWS Alexa Skill Builder Specialty is an innovative certification. Candidates can showcase their Alexa Skill development capabilities as follows,

  • Value of voice and user experience.
  • Building architecture for creating a skill.
  • Compliance with best practices of AWS and Alexa security.
  • Development, testing, validation and troubleshooting an Alexa skill.
  • Using Alexa Developer Console for managing the skill-publishing process.
  • Management of skill lifecycles and operations.

6. AWS Certified Database Specialty

The AWS Certified Database Specialty certification proves the specialization of candidates in the following areas,

  • Knowledge of important features in AWS database services and differentiating them.
  • Analysis of needs and specifications for recommending the appropriate design of database solutions by leveraging AWS services.



The professional responsibilities that you would have to take on after qualifying the AWS certifications can now help you choose the ideal certification path. Rather than searching for top AWS certifications, you should focus on the certification that fits your requirements. The choice of AWS certifications can be exceptionally difficult without proper guidance.

So, it is essential for aspiring candidates to go through the exam details comprehensively before making the final choice. AWS certifications are highly demanded not only because of the popularity of AWS but also for the focus on emerging skills. If you want to stay updated in the cloud industry as a professional, then start preparing for an AWS certification right now!

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