Guillermo Ojeda
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Beginners: How to get the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification

Beginners: How to get the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification

Guillermo Ojeda's photo
Guillermo Ojeda
·Dec 22, 2022·

6 min read

It's not easy to land the first cloud engineer role. Building a portfolio of side projects helps a lot, but it can have less of an impact than for a dev role. Here's another option: Earning the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification.

What is the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification

The AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification is the most general one of the three Associate (mid-level) AWS certifications. In theory it's designed for "individuals who have experience designing distributed systems and applications on the AWS platform". I mean, it says "Architect" on the name, right? Well, it's not as hard as it sounds (though it will take you around 100 hours to prepare for).

The certification covers so many services that it can be overwhelming at first sight. But in reality only the core services are covered in depth. You'll need to understand multiple types of architectures, and how to build them with VPC, EC2, ECS, ELB, Lambda and other services. Other services such as SSM or OpsWorks are also covered, but you won't need to get down to the fine details.

How does the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification help beginners

  1. It demonstrates skills and knowledge: Specifically, it shows that you know what's what and can actually build a lot of different stuff.

  2. It shows a commitment to learning: Like I said, it's going to take you around 100 hours to study and get the cert. It's not as hard as it sounds (the word "Architect" sounds scary), but it's not a walk in the park either.

  3. It often leads to higher salaries: According to a survey conducted by Global Knowledge, AWS-certified individuals earn an average of 18% more than their non-certified counterparts. 18% is not ridiculous, but can you find somewhere else to put 100 hours that will increase your salary by an average of 18%?

  4. It WILL make you stand out in a crowded job market: For intermediate and senior roles, there's a lot of people and a lot of jobs. For beginner roles, there's a lot of people and a much smaller number of jobs. By getting the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification, you are separating yourself from all the other job seekers. Like I said, it's not easy, and only very few junior cloud engineers (or candidates) will have it, if any.

Tips to Pass the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification Exam

Tip 0 is to find a great course.

I highly recommend Adrian Cantrill's course for this. It covers everything that you need to know, and even provides guided practical exercises you can do. And the best thing is that no previous AWS experience is needed. You can jump right into this course and it'll teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam confidently. You can purchase the course from this link to Adrian's website.

More tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with AWS: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam covers a wide range of services and features. It's important that you know your way around. I recommend exploring the AWS documentation and getting hands-on experience with the AWS platform by building and deploying applications on it. Logging into the AWS console, choosing a random service and exploring it a bit is a great first step.

  • Understand key concepts and design principles: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam tests your ability to design and implement scalable, fault-tolerant, and secure systems on AWS. To do this effectively, you need to understand key concepts such as elasticity, scalability, high availability, and security. I recommend reviewing the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which gives best practices for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud. You should also familiarize yourself with design patterns and principles such as the 12-Factor App, which outlines best practices for building cloud-native applications. Yeah, it's a lot. Like I said, not easy. But it's worth it.

  • Review the exam objectives and study materials: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam covers a wide range of topics, and it's important to understand what is covered on the exam. You can find the exam objectives on the AWS Training and Certification website. It outlines the specific areas that will be tested on the exam. I recommend using the exam objectives as a guide for your study plan, and focusing on the areas that are most heavily tested. You can find a variety of study materials on the AWS Training and Certification website, including whitepapers, FAQs, and practice exams.

  • Practice, practice, practice: One of the best ways to prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam is to get hands-on experience. Adrian Cantrill's course includes a lot of practice exercises. Additionally, you can do some workshops (highly recommended) or just find some projects to build on your own. I'll include a list of recommended workshops at the end.

  • Understand the exam format and time management: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions, and you have 130 minutes to complete the exam. It's important to understand the exam format and to manage your time effectively during the exam. You should practice with sample questions and practice exams to get a sense of the pacing and difficulty of the exam. I'll also add a link at the end. Another tip about this is that you should practice with a complete set of questions, so you're ready for the real exam experience. It's not the same to answer 10 questions, take a break and repeat, than to sit there for 2 hours of deep concentration. Be ready for the second one, because that's what you need to do during the exam.

  • Take care of yourself: Preparing for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam can be a stressful and time-consuming process. It's important to take care of yourself during this time. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and take breaks to rest and relax. Taking care of yourself will help you stay focused and perform at your best on the exam.

  • Seek help if needed: If you're struggling to prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam, don't hesitate to seek help. There are a lot of online resources and study groups available to help you prepare for the exam. You can also consider hiring a tutor or mentor who can provide personalized coaching and guidance. I don't offer personalized tutoring myself, but I can help you out if you need something. Entirely for free, no strings attached.

I hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. Good luck on the exam!! And good luck in your career as a cloud engineer. Don't forget to continue learning! And most importantly, don't forget to take care of yourself.

A few AWS Workshops that you might want to check out:


Thanks for reading!

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