Introduction to AWS Certification Exams: What You Need to Know

In today’s rapidly advancing cloud technology landscape, AWS (Amazon Web Services) certifications have emerged as crucial credentials for IT professionals seeking to validate their cloud expertise. AWS certifications are designed to certify the expertise of professionals in cloud architecture, operations, and security, among other specialties. Each certification exam is crafted to test theoretical knowledge and practical skills in handling AWS environments effectively. According to recent industry reports, AWS holds a significant share of the global cloud market, making their certifications highly sought after by employers and professionals alike.

As we delve deeper into the specifics of AWS certification exams, it’s important to understand their structure, the preparation required, and how they can impact your career trajectory. Whether you’re a seasoned IT professional or just starting, this article will guide you through everything you need to know about AWS certification exams, helping you make informed decisions about your educational and career goals.

introduction to aws certification exams

What is the AWS Certification Exam?

The AWS Certification Exam is a comprehensive testing system designed to validate individuals’ technical knowledge and skills in using AWS. These exams are strategically structured to assess a candidate’s ability to deploy and operate applications effectively on the AWS platform.

Each AWS certification exam targets specific roles and expertise levels, ranging from foundational knowledge of cloud concepts to more advanced specializations. Those certifications allow professionals to demonstrate their abilities in distinct areas of cloud computing that are relevant to their job roles and career aspirations.

The format of the exams can vary, typically including multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions. These questions are designed to test a wide range of skills, from identifying the correct technical solutions and practices to understanding the best strategies for implementation based on real-world scenarios. The certification process itself encourages continuous learning and skill development, which is crucial in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

What are the Levels of AWS Certification?

AWS certifications are organized into several distinct levels, each designed to cater to different skills and career pathways in cloud computing. You can get certified with AWS at one of these levels:

Foundational: 

Those looking to gain a general familiarity with the AWS Cloud and verify their knowledge should start at the Foundational level. It is ideal for those new to cloud computing and covers basic AWS knowledge and fundamental cloud concepts.

Associate: 

This level is aimed at those with some AWS experience and who want to deepen their understanding. Each focuses on specific skills related to designing, developing, and operating infrastructure and applications on AWS.

Professional: 

Professional certifications are intended for highly experienced individuals in specific technical areas. These exams require a comprehensive understanding of AWS services and best practices, and they are recommended for those who are already proficient in managing multiple AWS applications and services.

Specialty: 

The Specialty certifications focus on skills validation for specialized technical areas. These certifications require advanced expertise in the respective domains and are suited for individuals who have a strong background in a specific technical area within cloud computing.

What are the Types of AWS Certification Exams?

AWS offers a diverse range of certification exams designed to validate expertise in various technical domains of cloud computing. Here are the types of AWS certification exams available are:

  1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  3. AWS Certified Developer – Associate
  4. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
  5. AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate
  6. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
  7. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
  8. AWS Certified Security – Specialty
  9. AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty
  10. AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty
types of aws certifications

To begin your journey with AWS certification, let’s explore the first exam in detail: the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam.

1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exam is intended for individuals who want to demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the AWS Cloud, irrespective of specific technical roles. Candidates have 90 minutes to answer 65 questions. The passing score for AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exam is 700. It costs $100 and can be taken either at a testing center or online under proctored conditions.

CategoryFoundational
Exam duration90 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost100 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Bahasa (Indonesian), Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), French (France), German, Italian, and Portuguese (Brazil)
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam

2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam validates the ability to design and deploy well-architected solutions on AWS that meet customer requirements. Your exam results are provided as a scaled score of 100 to 1,000. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam’s minimum passing score is 720. Scaled scoring models assist in equating scores across several exam forms that may have slightly variable difficulty levels.

CategoryAssociate
Exam duration130 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost150 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, French (France), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Simplified Chinese, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), and Traditional Chinese.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam

3. AWS Certified Developer – Associate

Focuses on developing and maintaining applications running on AWS. For those aiming to build and optimize applications on Amazon Web Services, achieving the AWS Developer Associate Certification is an essential goal.

CategoryAssociate
Exam duration130 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost150 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, French (France), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Simplified Chinese, and Spanish (Latin America).
AWS Certified Developer – Associate Exam

4. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification exam evaluates the ability to deploy applications on the AWS platform, manage data transmission across data centers and multiple VPC architectures, choose optimal AWS services, and enhance system security within an AWS setting. Recognized as one of the more challenging certifications, AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification exam requires substantial preparation and practice.

CategoryAssociate
Exam duration130 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost150 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate Exam

5. AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate

The AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate (DEA-C01) exam tests candidates’ ability to create data pipelines and monitor, debug, and improve cost and performance issues using best practices. The ideal candidate has 2–3 years of data engineering expertise. 

CategoryAssociate
Exam duration130 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost150 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese
AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate Exam

6. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

Those who work as DevOps engineers are the target audience for the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional (DOP-C02) examination. The test certifies a candidate’s technical proficiency with AWS distributed system and service provisioning, operation, and management. AWS environment provisioning, operation, and management experience of two years or more is required of the ideal applicant.

CategoryProfessional
Exam duration180 minutes
Exam format75 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost300 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional Exam

7. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional (SAP-C02) exam targets professionals who work as solutions architects. This certification exam evaluates the participant’s high-level technical abilities and their proficiency in developing optimized solutions using the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

CategoryProfessional
Exam duration180 minutes
Exam format75 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost300 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, French (France), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Simplified Chinese, and Spanish (Latin America).
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Exam

8. AWS Certified Security – Specialty

This certification is intended for those who perform a security role and understand security controls and compliance aspects of the AWS environment.

CategorySpecialty
Exam duration170 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost300 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, French (France), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Simplified Chinese, and Spanish (Latin America)
AWS Certified Security – Specialty Exam

9. AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty

Ensures competence in solving specific business challenges using Machine Learning (ML) solutions through planning, development, deployment, and sustained support.

CategorySpecialty
Exam duration180 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost300 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty Exam

10. AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

Demonstrates a high level of technical expertise and experience in the process of building and deploying hybrid IT network architectures at scale using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

CategorySpecialty
Exam duration170 minutes
Exam format65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple response
Cost300 USD. (For additional cost information, including exchange rates, visit AWS’ official page)
Test in-person or onlinePearson VUE testing center or online proctored exam
Languages offeredEnglish, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty Exam

How to Prepare for an AWS Certification Exam?

Preparing for an AWS Certification Exam requires a structured approach to learning and a deep understanding of both theoretical concepts and practical applications. Here are some general tips to help you prepare effectively:

1. Understand the Exam Blueprint: 

Each AWS certification exam comes with a blueprint that details the topics covered, the weighting of each domain, and the format of questions. Start your preparation by thoroughly reviewing this blueprint to understand what’s expected. An AWS/DevOps course can be helpful previous to the exam if you are not experienced with cloud architecture.

2. Take Advantage of AWS Training and Resources:

AWS offers a variety of training courses and materials that can help you prepare. These resources include instructor-led training sessions, digital courses, whitepapers, FAQs, and documentation available on the AWS website.

3. Hands-On Practice: 

Practical experience is crucial. Make use of the AWS Free Tier or set up a personal sandbox environment to experiment with AWS services. This hands-on practice will help you understand how AWS solutions operate in real-world scenarios.

4. Join a Study Group or Community:

Engaging with other learners can be incredibly beneficial. Join AWS study groups or forums to exchange knowledge, discuss concepts, and solve problems collectively.

5. Practice with Mock Exams: 

Before taking the actual exam, complete several mock exams to get familiar with the question format and time constraints. This will also help you identify areas where you may need further study. 

5 Tips to Prepare for AWS Certification Exams

How to Select the Right AWS Course for Your Career?

Choosing an AWS course involves understanding your career goals and the skills you need to develop. It’s important to select a course that aligns with the specific AWS certification you aim to achieve, and that matches your current skill level. Whether you’re starting out or looking to specialize further, there’s an AWS course tailored to your career path. Carefully evaluating these factors will guide you in choosing an AWS course that best suits your professional development.

Conclusion

As cloud computing continues to dominate the tech landscape, AWS certifications stand out as valuable assets for any IT professional aiming to validate their skills and advance their career. It boosts your credibility and marketability and enhances your ability to contribute effectively to your organization’s goals in the cloud domain. With the right preparation, resources, and training, like the AWS Solution Architect Course, you can successfully pass the AWS Certification Exams and join the ranks of globally recognized cloud professionals.

As we have outlined in this article, the key to success lies in understanding the structure and requirements of the exam, engaging with the community, and continually practicing and updating your knowledge. Whether you choose to start with the Foundational level or aim for a Specialty certification, each step forward is a significant stride toward your future in cloud computing.

Embrace the challenge, and let your AWS certification journey begin today!

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