What are the most popular Amazon Certifications?

AWS certification is a level of Amazon Web Services cloud expertise that an IT professional obtains after passing one or more exams the public cloud provider offers.

IT pros gain AWS certifications to demonstrate and validate technical cloud knowledge and skills. AWS provides different certification exams for cloud engineers, administrators, and architects. AWS certification lasts for two years, and IT pros can recertify their specific certification after it expires. There are hundreds of testing centers around the world in which to take the exams.

Types of AWS certifications

AWS offers six different certifications, grouped into four main paths — Cloud Practitioner, Architect, Developer, and Operations — and additional sub paths. There is also a Specialty Path, divided into five sub paths.

Explore AWS Certifications

Cloud Practitioner Path

This certification path is intended for individuals who are looking to build and validate an overall understanding of the AWS cloud. This path is useful for individuals in technical, managerial, sales, purchasing or financial roles who work with the AWS cloud.AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Architect Path

This path is designed for solutions architects, solution design engineers and anyone who wants to learn how to design applications and systems on AWS. There are two architect sub paths:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate: For this certification level, the student must demonstrate knowledge of how to design, manage and distribute applications in conjunction with AWS tools. These IT pros must be able to design and deploy highly available and scalable systems in AWS, as well as proper security, disaster recovery (DR) and troubleshooting concepts. The certification recommends IT pros have one year or more of hands-on experience designing and deploying highly available and fault-tolerant AWS systems.

AWS Certified - Solution Architect Associate

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Professional: For this certification level, it’s a prerequisite to complete the Associate-level AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification exam and have two years or more experience designing and deploying of AWS cloud architectures. IT pros must demonstrate knowledge of complex AWS applications, including how to move applications to AWS, optimize AWS architecture for an enterprise and apply application design best practices.

Developer Path

This certification is designed for software developers who want to learn how to develop cloud applications on AWS. There are two developer subpaths:

  • AWS Certified Developer — Associate: IT pros must prove code-level knowledge for AWS application design, development, and maintenance, along with a thorough knowledge of the AWS architecture. The certification recommends having one year-plus of experience in maintaining AWS-based applications.
    AWS Certified - Developer Associate
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional: This certification requires that applicants complete the Associate-level AWS Certified Developer or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification exams and have two or more years of experience provisioning and managing AWS architectures. Students must comprehend specific concepts involving continuous deployment (CD) and automation of AWS processes and know-how to implement them into AWS architectures.AWS Certified DevOps Engineer

Operations Path

There are two subpaths are designed for sysops administrators, systems administrators and those in a DevOps role who want to learn how to create automatable and repeatable deployments of applications, networks, and systems on the AWS platform.

  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator — Associate: Provide knowledge of deployment and operations related to AWS architecture and services, including application deployment and data migration; students also possess basic system administrator skills in security, provisioning and systems management. The certification recommends one year or more of experience with AWS system operations.
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional: This certification requires that applicants complete the Associate-level AWS Certified Developer or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification exams and have two or more years of experience provisioning and managing AWS architectures. Students must comprehend specific concepts involving continuous deployment (CD) and automation of AWS processes and know-how to implement them into AWS architectures.

 Specialty Path

AWS also offers five specialty certifications in technical areas. The five subpaths are:

  • AWS Certified Big Data — Specialty: Requires at least one Associate-level certification, five years of data analytics experience and a background in AWS big data tools and architecture design. Students must confirm technical and experiential skills regarding big data architecture design, implementation and automation using AWS tools and best practices.

Big Data - Specialty

  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking — Specialty: Requires at least one Associate-level certification, five years of data analytics experience and a background in AWS networking. Students must demonstrate advanced knowledge in network architecture across all AWS tools and services; automation of network processes; and knowledge to design, develop and deploy services in the AWS cloud.

Certified Advanced Networking Specialty

  • AWS Certified Security — Specialty: AWS Certified Security is intended for individuals who perform a security role with at least two years of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads. Certificate holders can demonstrate:
    • Knowledge of specialized data classifications and AWS data protection mechanisms
    • Understanding of data encryption methods and AWS mechanisms to implement them
    • Knowledge of secure Internet protocols and AWS mechanisms to implement them
    • Working knowledge of AWS security services and features of services to provide a secure production environment
    • Competency gained from two or more years of production deployment experience using AWS security services and features
    • Ability to make tradeoff decisions with regard to cost, security and deployment complexity given a set of application requirements
    • Understanding of security operations and risk

AWS Certified Security SPECIALTY

Exploring the AWS Certifications

Let’s take a look at the different certifications offered by Amazon Web Services. As of 2019, there are ten distinct certifications, spread across four experience levels – Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner –Foundational

The AWS Cloud Practitioner certification gives you a high-level introduction to AWS. It doesn’t go deep on any particular services, instead of providing a general overview of how AWS is structured.

We recommend our AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner course as the best place to start for anyone who’s new to cloud computing.

Ready to get certified? Prepare for your exam with our AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner course.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification gives you a broad overview of AWS, and forms a valuable foundation on which you can build everything else you’ll learn moving forward. There’s a reason it’s been the #1 cloud certification for four years running.

The CSA – Associate certification focuses on the core AWS services, like Identity and Access Management (IAM), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), S3, and EC2. Studying these core services will give you a good understanding of how AWS approaches security, networking, data storage, and compute capability.

For anyone new to cloud computing, we recommend our AWS Solutions Architect – Associate course as the next best step after you’ve gained your AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. You developers and sysadmins might be tempted to go straight at the Developer – Associate or SysOps Admin – Associate certs, and more power to you, but we’d still recommend going through Solutions Architect – Associate first.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

AWS Certified Developer – Associate

You might think this cert is for developers – after all, it says developer right there – but it’s really for anyone who uses AWS.

In terms of focus, this AWS certification takes you deeper into services like Dynamo DB, Elastic Beanstalk, SQS, and SNS, but not too deep. It also expects you to know a bit more about how you would use these services, as well as how they present themselves to the outside world through APIs and SDKs.

This is another certification that we recommend to everyone. In fact, we recommend that you move onto it immediately after you finish the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam. There’s a lot of overlap between the certs, and taking them close together makes this one much easier to finish off quickly.

Certified Developer Associate

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate

This certification is also somewhat misleading. It’s not only for SysOps Admins. It’s for anyone who runs things on AWS. This exam goes rather in-depth on CloudWatch, among other things. Going through this certification gives you a much stronger grasp of what’s actually going on in your AWS architecture.

A word to the wise! SysOps Admin is widely regarded as the hardest AWS Associate certification. But it’s really valuable to finish off all of the Associates before taking on the much harder Professional exams. The Professionals expect you know everything about the Associate level exams like the back of your hand, so skipping one – particularly the hardest one – could come back to bite you.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional is the pinnacle of general AWS expertise. With an CSA – Pro cert, you should be equipped to take any AWS feature or service and make good use of it. Also, because you understand the ecosystem at a deep level, it’ll be much easier to stay up to date as AWS keeps changing.

For the Solutions Architect – Pro, every single service in the entire AWS ecosystem is in play, and quite a bit of depth is required in specific areas like security and Direct Connect. Snagging this certification is not for the faint of heart – you pretty much have to know all the things about all the things AWS has to offer.
AWS Certified Solution Architect Professional

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

DevOps is all about combining development, operations, and a quality mindset to shepherd systems through time. This exam reflects that, and really requires you to think about not just static systems that are deployed once, but systems that change and evolve over time.

While CSA – Pro is an all-encompassing elephant of a certification, DevOps Engineer – Professional actually goes deeper into specific areas like deployments and lifecycles (and services like CloudFormation and OpsWorks). On whole, though, it has a rather narrower scope.

Guru tip: There’s some wiggle room as to order here. DevOps – Pro is a valuable stepping stone between the associate level certs and the Solutions Architect – Professional certification, so on one hand, it’s a good idea to pass this first (we do think it makes it much easier to pass the CSA – Pro exam). On the other, there’s quite a bit of overlap between DevOps – Pro and CSA – Pro, and plenty of people find it valuable to study for them together.

Ready to get certified? Prepare for your exam with our AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional course.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer

AWS Specialty Certifications

Amazon Certifications

  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Security – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty Scope: 3
    Depth: 10
    Recommended Experience: Two to five years of hands-on experience and advanced knowledge of AWS in the specific specialty area.

It’s probably for you if: You’re already highly experienced in a specific area of AWS, and are ready to validate that experience and take the next step in your career.

AWS Specialty certifications dive extremely deep on narrow focus areas – specifically networking, big data, security, and machine learning. Like the pro-level certs, they are not to be approached lightly, and multiple years of hands-on professional experience in each specialty domain is highly recommended.

AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

The advanced networking certification digs into both hybrid and AWS-only networks, and includes aspects such as multi-region setups and cost optimization. It’s not an all-encompassing cert – there are some services that you don’t need to know anything about, but where it does focus, it goes very deep. You need to know absolutely everything about certain services like Direct Connect, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and routing.

Guru tip: If you do Advanced Networking – Specialty before taking on Solutions Architect – Professional, it’ll make certain aspects of the CSA – Pro exam much easier for you.

Advanced Networking - Specialty

AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty

This certification focuses on all the data services, especially RedShift, Kinesis, DynamoDB, and Elastic MapReduce. Exactly what you’d expect for a Big Data certification. But it also includes some things you might not have expected, such as Internet of Things and Machine Learning. Data security is also covered, with this cert roping in features such as Key Management Service (KSM) and Hardware Security Modules (HSM).

AWS Certified Big Data Soecialty

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

Of the four specialty certifications, security is the broadest. It only makes sense – security cuts across a ton of other domains, so this cert is less focused on specific services. Still, it does go into depth on a number of security-specific services, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Key Management Service (KMS), CloudTrail, AWS Config, and Web Application Firewall (WAF). Some of the most common questions on this exam have you figuring out how different security settings interact or conflict.


AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty

Machine Learning – Speciality is the newest AWS certification and focuses on, well, machine learning. Imagine that. You will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the underlying concepts of machine learning, such as data collection and analysis, modeling, and machine learning algorithms, as well as proficiency with Kinesis for streaming data collection and SageMaker for building, training, tuning, and deploying machine learning models.

AWS Certified Machine Learning

Ready to get certified? Prepare for your exam with our AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty course.

AWS-New-Skills and AWS Training


Two years of comprehensive experience designing, operating, and troubleshooting solutions using the AWS Cloud

AWS Certified Solutions Architect ProfessionalAWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional


One year of experience solving problems and implementing solutions using the AWS Cloud

AWS Certified Solutions Architect AssociateAWS Certified SysOps Administrator AssociateDeveloper Associate


Six months of fundamental AWS Cloud and industry knowledge

Cloud Practitioner


Technical AWS Cloud experience in the Specialty domain as specified in the exam guide

Advanced Networking SpecialtyBig Data SpecialtySecurity SpecialtyMachine Learning SpecialtyAlexa Skill Buildder Specialty

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

 AWS SysOps Certification Exam Guide Outlines Admin Responsibility

IT skills shortage leads to AWS certification demand


AWS IQ marketplace taps demand for AWS Experts

AWS IQ Marketplace Taps Demand for AWS Experts

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

How long does it take to become AWS Certified

With a full-time job and other commitments, investing 80 hours of study usually takes two months. If you are entirely new to AWS, we recommend approximately 120 hours or three months to prepare. Start with the fundamentals, and then move to the Solutions Architect – Associate Learning Path.