What Is an AWS Certified Solutions Architect?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

What does an AWS certified solutions architect do, and what’s the average solutions architect salary? Discover the answers to these questions and learn more about the credentials that Amazon Web Services offers for cloud services professionals.

[Featured Image] A man sits at his laptop at home and prepares to earn a certification to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect.

An AWS certified solutions architect undergoes specialized training and testing to earn their AWS Cloud Services certification. Amazon Web Services offers three certifications for cloud solutions architects: AWS Cloud Practitioner, AWS Solutions Architect—Associate, and AWS Solutions Architect—Professional. 

Choosing the appropriate certification depends on your prior experience working with AWS Cloud Services. Explore each of these three credentials, including what information you can find on the exam and how to prepare to pass it. 

What is an AWS certified solutions architect?

An Amazon Web Services (AWS) certified solutions architect is a cloud network specialist who designs, creates, and maintains their employer's AWS-based services. Companies can use Amazon Web Services to run many business systems, such as analytics, security, storage, or database services. An AWS certified solutions architect has a credential from Amazon Web Services to demonstrate their aptitude for developing and maintaining cloud solutions on AWS. 

As an AWS-certified solutions architect, some of the tasks you can expect include the following: 

  • Implement or build new cloud-based systems.

  • Update existing AWS systems

  • Debug cloud-based systems and troubleshooting issues

  • Migrate systems onto the cloud from other locations

  • Monitor and proactively engage with security 

  • Look for ways to improve how the company engages with its cloud network

What are Amazon Web Services certifications?

Amazon Web Services certifications are credentials you can earn, providing evidence of your experience and skill level as you progress as a cloud solutions architect. Completing a certification can expand your knowledge base and show your commitment and dedication to potential employers. It’s also an excellent way to stay aware of the latest industry updates and connect with other professionals in your field. 

AWS offers a range of certifications for professionals, including solutions architects, application architects, cloud data engineers, software development engineers, systems administrators, cloud engineers, test engineers, cloud security engineers, network engineers, and more. Many of the career pathways overlap with one another. For example, the associate level AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate credential appears on the solutions architect learning pathway and learning pathways for application architects, cloud data engineers, cloud security architects, network engineers, and machine learning engineers. 

AWS certification pathways for solutions architects

You can choose from three AWS certifications for solutions architects, each one specific to your career stage. 

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner credential offers foundational-level certification. You don’t need prior experience to start at this level, making it an excellent starting point if you’re new to the field or want to learn new skills in cloud-based systems. If you have some prior experience with cloud computing, you can start at the associate level AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate. After gaining two years of experience working with AWS Cloud, you can qualify for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Professional. 

The following examines each certification in greater detail. 

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is a foundational-level certification. The necessary training will help you gain essential skills with AWS Cloud without prior experience. If you’re new to the field or switching your career to cloud services, this certification can help you build a knowledge base and literacy around AWS Cloud before moving on to more specialized topics. In addition to the solutions architect career learning pathway, the Cloud Practitioner certification is relevant to every career pathway AWS offers. 

As a foundational-level certification, the exam centers around basic AWS cloud and cloud services concepts. To prepare for the exam, you must also learn about AWS security, architecture, and pricing models. You can learn these skills with AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials on Coursera, a flexible course that takes approximately 18 hours to complete. 

Requirements: You will not have to complete any prerequisites before taking the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam 

Cost (US): $100 [1]

Exam duration: 90 minutes

Exam format: 65 multiple-choice questions

AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate credential is for individuals with at least one year of experience designing cloud-based services. If you have two or more years of experience, you can skip this certification and move to the professional-level credential. This certification is appropriate for people working or planning to work as solutions architects and demonstrates your experience with AWS Cloud services. The associate-level AWS solutions architect credential is also suitable for roles like cloud data engineer, cloud security architect, network engineer, and machine learning engineer. 

The information on the exam spans four areas: design secure architectures, design resilient architectures, design high-performing architectures, and design cost-optimized architectures. To prepare for this exam, you’ll need to gain some experience working with AWS Cloud, and you may find it helpful to take a preparatory course. For example, you could take Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate to help you review the topics you will encounter on the exam. 

Requirements: Before taking this certification exam, you should have more than one but less than two years of experience working with AWS Cloud. 

Cost (US): $150 [2]

Exam duration: 130 minutes

Exam format: 65 multiple-choice questions

AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Professional 

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Professional certification is for individuals who have at least two years of experience working with AWS Certified Solutions. This credential is appropriate for solutions architects, but it can also be relevant for cloud security and application architects. After completing this exam, you can continue with specialty certifications to expand your skills. Amazon Web Services offers six specialty certifications, including the AWS Security certification. 

To prepare for the exam, you should be familiar with templates, consoles, and designing applications on AWS Cloud. You should also be able to recommend AWS's best practices, including implementation, deployment, and provisioning. One way to prepare for the certification exam is to complete a preparatory course offered by AWS on Coursera. The AWS Cloud Solutions Architect Professional Certificate exam prep course will help you review the topics you will encounter on the exam. 

Requirements: Before taking this certification exam, you need two or more years of experience working with AWS Cloud. 

Cost (US): $300 [3]

Exam duration: 180 minutes

Exam format: 75 multiple-choice questions

How to earn your AWS Solutions Architect certification 

To earn your AWS Solutions Architect certification and become a solutions architect, you will need to decide what your learning path will be, prepare for the exam you selected, and successfully pass the certification exam. The following three steps can help you get ready:


Step 1: Decide your learning pathway

While you do not need a degree to complete an AWS certification, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree to become a solutions architect. In addition, you will need to choose which AWS certifications to pursue based on the role you’d like to have as a career and the experience you currently possess with AWS Cloud services. 

Step 2: Study and complete exam prep  

Next, you will need to review the exam topics to revisit what you already know and learn new skills to fill any gaps in your knowledge. You can complete your preparation by enrolling in classroom training, webinars, Twitch, or preparatory courses on Coursera. 

Step 3: Take the exam 

Once you’ve completed your preparatory course, you’re ready to take the exam. The fee varies from $100 to $300. After passing the exam, you’ll earn your AWS Certified Solutions Architect credential. 

AWS certified solutions architect salary and job outlook 

Average annual salary in the US: $164,000 [4]

Job outlook (estimated growth from 2022 to 2032): 4 percent [5]

Education requirements: You will likely need to earn a bachelor’s degree before becoming a solutions architect, but you can take your AWS certification exam without one. 

As a solutions architect, you will design, create, implement, and care for business applications hosted within AWS Cloud Services. In this role, you will solve all business problems using software and applications created with or hosted on AWS Cloud. 

Learn more with Coursera.

AWS certifications offer various benefits, including digital badges and access to a robust community. For aspiring professionals just starting out, online courses make learning about the cloud more accessible. Gain fundamental knowledge with the Google Cloud Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure or IBM’s Introduction to Cloud Computing. Start learning more about AWS with the three-course AWS Fundamentals Specialization to gain subject-matter expertise. 

If you’re ready to pursue certification, you can also choose from one of the earlier preparatory courses, including AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials, Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate, and AWS Cloud Solutions Architect Professional

Article sources


Amazon Web Services. “AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification, https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-cloud-practitioner/.” Accessed April 16, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.