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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most widely adopted cloud provider, accounting for 31% of the market. AWS certifications are also among the most highly valued in the growing field of cloud computing. Global Knowledge ranked one AWS certification as the third highest paid IT certification in 2021.
The best AWS certificates are in high demand and can help certified cloud practitioners secure raises and well-paying IT positions. They also cover a broad range of subjects while validating certificate holders' in-depth knowledge of specific aspects of cloud computing.
Best AWS Certifications of 2022
- Best Overall: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
- Best Value: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
- Best for Beginners: AWS Certified Developer – Associate
- Best for Advanced Students: AWS Certified Security – Speciality
- Best for Cloud Certification: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- Best for Architect Certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
- Best for Machine Learning Certification: AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty
- Best for DevOps Certification: AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Best Overall : AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification validates foundational skills in cloud computing. Industry demand for this certificate is high.
Provides a solid foundation in AWS cloud computing
Less challenging than Solutions Architect – Professional certification
Lower salary than Solutions Architect – Professional
Less focused than other associate-level exams
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification is one of the best IT certifications available. It is also the most popular certification AWS offers. According to a survey by Global Knowledge, the Solutions Architect – Associate certification was the third-highest-paying IT certification in North America in 2021. Survey participants with this credential earned an average salary of $159,033.
Candidates for this certification should have one year of hands-on experience using the AWS platform. They should also have a solid understanding of AWS infrastructure, network technologies, security features, and best practices.
If you pursue this certification, AWS offers a free exam guide, sample questions, and other review materials. You can also complete a free two-hour exam readiness course offered by AWS, which covers the exam's format and offers study suggestions. As with all AWS certification exams, candidates can choose to take the exam online with a proctor or at a testing facility.
Best Value : AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
Earning your AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification validates your understanding of AWS architecture overall. Earning this credential can be beneficial for anyone who runs applications on AWS.
Good preparation for professional certifications
Useful for anyone who runs AWS applications
Most difficult associate exam
New exam format includes challenging lab items
The SysOps certification exam costs the same as other AWS associate exams. However, its value lies in its usefulness, particularly for those who plan to pursue AWS's professional certifications. The SysOps exam is widely considered the most challenging associate exam offered by AWS. While it's not a prerequisite, becoming an AWS Certified Sysops Administrator may make tackling the more challenging professional exams more manageable.
AWS changed the Sysops – Associate exam to reflect innovations on the AWS platform. The updated exam includes lab items, which ask the test taker to perform tasks in the AWS Management Console or AWS Command Line Interface.
Candidates for AWS Certified SysOps certification should have at least one year of experience with AWS. To prepare for the exam, which you can take online or in person, check out the resources on AWS's website, including digital training and webinars, an exam readiness course, and practice questions.
Best for Beginners : AWS Certified Developer – Associate
If you have some hands-on experience with AWS, the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam can be a good place to begin your AWS certification journey. Earning this certificate first may make obtaining subsequent associate certifications easier, which is why it's our top choice for beginners.
Useful for almost anyone using the AWS platform
Good first choice for those interested in earning more certifications
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification in higher demand
True beginners may want to earn their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification before pursuing associate certificates. However, the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification can be a good place to start if you have some hands-on experience implementing cloud computing solutions with AWS.
Earning your AWS Certified Developer – Associate certificate demonstrates your understanding of AWS services, architecture, and best practices. In 2021, the AWS developer certification was one of the top-paying certifications worldwide. Professionals with this credential earned an average salary of $159,767 globally.
If you plan to earn multiple certifications, starting with the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam may be a good option. There is some overlap between it and the Solutions Architect – Associate exam. By taking the two exams close together, you may cut down on your overall study time.
AWS recommends several courses to help candidates prepare for the Certified Developer exam, including AWS Technical Essentials, Developing on AWS, and Getting Started with DevOps on AWS. It also provides free study materials and practice questions. Candidates can take the exam online or at a testing center.
Best for Advanced Students : AWS Certified Security – Speciality
Data security is a significant concern across different cloud computing domains. There is a growing demand for cloud security experts and we think the AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification is the best option for advanced students.
Broadest specialty AWS certification
Growing demand for cloud security experts
Not necessary for many IT roles
Like other AWS specialty certifications, the AWS Certified Security certificate is for advanced IT professionals. Candidates should have five years of IT experience and at least two years of experience using AWS. The exam covers how to respond to security breaches, how to design and implement security monitoring systems, how to troubleshoot a secure network infrastructure, and more.
Security issues affect many different areas of cloud computing, which is why this specialty certification is broader in focus than the others. It's a good choice for those seeking to advance in the growing field of cloud security, which is expected to see a 115% increase in jobs by 2026.
You can take your AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam at a testing facility or with a proctor online. To help you prepare, AWS recommends several courses. Its free, three-hour digital course, Getting Started with AWS Security, Identity, and Compliance, is a good place to begin. You can also access a free exam readiness course, practice questions, and more.
Best for Cloud Certification : AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
If you're new to cloud computing, becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner can help you better understand the AWS platform. This certificate is a good choice for those seeking cloud certification to learn AWS fundamentals rather than develop technical expertise.
Requires minimal technical AWS knowledge
Easiest and least expensive AWS exam
Good stepping stone toward associate certifications
Not as useful for those with significant or technical AWS experience
Does not provide technical training
By becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, you can gain a basic understanding of the AWS cloud infrastructure. You will learn how to describe its architectural principles, the financial value it provides to users, and its security features.
The Cloud Practitioner exam does not test technical skills in cloud computing. However, entry level professionals with this credential still earn a strong salary. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average is $89,643.
The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is widely regarded as the easiest exam AWS offers. Certificate candidates can take the exam online with a proctor or at a testing facility. AWS recommends that test takers have at least six months of experience with AWS; however, this experience doesn't need to be technical.
To help test takers prepare for the exam, AWS offers free webinars and test preparation materials, and a practice exam. Amazon has a digital prep course as well. On test day, students can take the exam online or in person.
Best for Architect Certification : AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
Once you have mastered the AWS platform, earning your AWS Solutions Architect – Professional certification can showcase the depth and breadth of your cloud-computing knowledge. It's also the most comprehensive AWS certification and the best for cloud architects.
High average salaries
One of AWS's most difficult exams
Global Knowledge reports that during 2021, this certification was the top-paid AWS certification with an average annual salary of $161,409. Candidates for the Solutions Architect – Professional certification should have at least two years of experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS.
There are no prerequisites for professional certification as a solutions architect; however, earning this certificate requires deep knowledge of just about every facet of AWS. Therefore, it might be a good idea to obtain one or more associate certifications before tackling one of AWS's most challenging exams.
Candidates can take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional exam at a testing facility or online with a proctor. AWS offers free study materials, including an exam guide, sample questions, and an exam readiness course.
Best for Machine Learning Certification : AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty
The AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty certification validates skills in building, implementing, and deploying machine learning solutions for businesses. It's the most targeted certificate for machine learning experts.
Best for developers and data scientists
Machine learning skills in high demand
One of AWS's more difficult exams
The AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty certification validates candidates' ability to build, train, and deploy machine learning models using AWS. To earn this certificate, you will need at least two years of experience in a data science or developer role using machine learning on the AWS platform.
Certificate candidates can take the Machine Learning – Specialty exam at a testing facility or with a proctor online. To prepare for your exam, you can access exam guides and sample questions on the AWS website. AWS also offers a free exam readiness course and an official set of practice questions.
Best for DevOps Certification : AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certification is geared toward DevOps engineers experienced in managing AWS environments. It's the best choice for professionals working in development and operations.
Explicitly designed for DevOps engineers
Good stepping stone for Solutions Architecture – Professional certification
Relatively narrow focus
One of AWS's more difficult exams
Like all AWS professional certifications, earning the Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certification requires deep knowledge of the AWS platform. It differs from the Certified Solutions Architecture – Professional certification in its comparatively narrow focus. The exam tests candidates' ability to implement and manage continuous delivery systems, automate security controls, and design tools to automate operational processes.
Those interested in earning the Solutions Architecture – Professional certification may benefit from getting their DevOps certification beforehand. Certificate candidates should have at least two years of experience managing and operating AWS environments.
AWS provides an exam guide, sample questions, and other free study materials on its website. Certificate candidates can prepare for the exam by taking AWS's free, 90-minute AWS Cloud Development Kit Primar course and its free exam readiness course. AWS also offers a free official practice question set. On test day, candidates can choose to take their exam online or at a testing facility.
The Solutions Architect – Associate certification is our choice for the best AWS cloud certification overall. It is the most popular certification offered by AWS and provides a solid foundation in AWS cloud computing. IT professionals with this certificate are also among the highest earners in the industry.
Compare the Best AWS Certifications
|AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Best Overall||Over 5,000 PSI and Pearson VUE testing facilities||Proctored online or at a testing facility||$150||130 minutes|
|AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate Best Value||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$150||180 minutes|
|AWS Certified Developer—Associate Best for Beginners||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$150||130 minutes|
|AWS Certified Security – Specialty Best for Advanced Students||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$300||170 minutes|
|AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Best for Cloud Certification||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$100||90 minutes|
|AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Best for Architect Certification||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$300||180 minutes|
|AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty Best for Machine Learning Certification||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$300||180 minutes|
|AWS Certified DevOps – Professional Best for DevOps Certification||5,000+ testing facilities worldwide||Online or in-person||$300||180 minutes|
How to Choose the Best AWS Certification
The best way to choose an AWS certification is to see which one supports your career goals the most. Consider the difficulty of each exam since it may be possible to advance your career just as well with a certification exam that's easier to pass than one that's more difficult.
If you're just getting started in AWS, begin by researching which AWS certifications are currently the most sought after and cross-reference the salaries of professionals with those credentials.
Types of AWS Certifications
AWS offers 11 certifications which fall into four tiers: foundational, associate, professional, and specialty. The only foundational certification AWS bestows is Certified Cloud Practitioner. AWS recommends this certification for professionals with six months of technical or non-technical experience using AWS.
AWS offers three associate-level certifications: AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer, and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator. Candidates for associate certification should have at least one year of hands-on experience using the AWS platform.
Advanced students can pursue two professional certifications and five specialty certifications. Candidates for these certifications should have at least two years of AWS cloud computing experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is an AWS Certification?
AWS certification validates IT professionals' cloud-computing knowledge and IT skills. AWS offers certifications tailored to IT professionals working in various capacities and with different levels of expertise.
Is an AWS Certificate Worth It?
IT professionals who earned new certifications received an average raise of nearly $13,000. Many also reported improved job performance and expanded job opportunities. On its own, an AWS certificate may not be enough to get you hired; however, IT employers value certifications, and learning AWS skills may have many benefits for your career.
How Much Does an AWS Certification Cost?
AWS certification exams cost $100-$300, depending on the level of certification.
What Types of Jobs Can You Get With an AWS Certificate?
Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing sectors of IT. Earning an AWS certification may help you advance your career as a solutions architect, developer, DevOps engineer, or SysOps administrator. Earning a specialty certification could help you qualify for roles in advanced network engineering, data science, and other specialized fields.
We reviewed AWS's current certification offerings. In ranking certifications, we considered industry demand for the certificate, certificate holders' average salaries, the difficulty of obtaining certification, and the usefulness of certification for various IT professions.