AWS Solutions Architect: Career + Certification Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about AWS solutions architect jobs, certifications, and requirements in this guide.

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Do you enjoy working with technology and thinking critically? If so, a career as an AWS Solutions Architect could be an excellent fit for you. The role of AWS Solutions Architect involves designing, building, and maintaining scalable and reliable systems using AWS infrastructure. As the leading cloud computing platform, professionals with AWS expertise are in high demand.

What does an AWS Solutions Architect do?

Similar to the way architects design the structure of buildings, AWS Solutions Architects design cloud solutions. They help organizations meet business requirements by strategizing the most efficient system possible. They also collaborate with other AWS project teams to ensure the solution is implemented correctly. AWS Solutions Architects are also responsible for monitoring the solution's performance and troubleshooting any issues that may arise.

A day in the life of an AWS Solutions Architect

The list below outlines the tasks you are likely to perform in this role:

  • Design, deploy, and manage the organization's cost-effective, scalable cloud infrastructures.

  • Identify the company's business objectives and develop cloud-based solutions to support them.

  • Modernize obsolete systems inside a company to make them more efficient.

  • Keep downtime and security breaches to a minimum in the cloud setting.

  • Evaluate the risk of third-party platforms and frameworks.

  • Investigate methods to improve corporate operations by digitizing routine processes.

  • Perform internal cloud application development, construction, and maintenance for the enterprise.

  • Keep abreast of the newest cloud computing developments and work to improve the organization's cloud infrastructure.

  • Communicate with internal teams such as IT, sales, and operations.

  • Develop apps to suit project requirements.

  • Make hardware and software suggestions based on the organization's and project's needs.

How much do AWS Solutions Architects make?

The average annual salary for cloud solutions architects in the US is $197,375 per year [1]. This figure includes a base salary of $118,045 and a reported additional yearly wage of $79,330. Additional pay may include bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing.

Job outlook for solutions architects

The career outlook for this position is positive. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites growth in cloud computing as one of the key drivers of the expected 15 percent increase in demand for IT professionals between 2021 and 2031 [2].

Required workplace and technical skills for AWS Solutions Architects

A combination of technical, business, and workplace skills are essential to becoming an AWS solution architect. The sections below explore a few core technical and non-technical competencies:

Technical skills

  • Strong understanding of the AWS framework

  • Hands-on experience designing distributed systems and applications on the AWS Cloud

  • Experience with cloud computing

  • Solid understanding of cloud solutions and cloud computing architecture

  • Ability to translate business requirements into technical goals

  • Familiarity with cybersecurity concepts like identity and access management

Workplace skills

  • Excellent communication skills. As an AWS Solutions Architect, you must

    be able to communicate effectively with all stakeholders about technical topics at an appropriate level. In other words, you should be able to communicate technical topics to those without technical backgrounds in an accessible manner.

  • Flexibility and desire to learn. An AWS Solutions Architect must have the ability to be flexible and adapt to new technologies quickly, and also desire to learn new things to keep up with the latest trends in the industry.

  • Analytical skills. Analyzing data quickly and efficiently to find creative solutions to complex problems is a key responsibility for AWS Solutions Architects.

  • Problem-solving aptitude. The ability to think outside the box and break complex problems down to find workable solutions is crucial. 

  • Time management. Often, several work streams are executed simultaneously. The ability to prioritize tasks effectively to meet milestones and deadlines is extremely valuable for this role.

  • Teamwork. AWS architects often work in a collaborative environment. They have the ability to work harmoniously with other team members and departments. 

AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud: What’s the difference?

AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are three of the most popular cloud service providers. So, what’s the difference? AWS is a very popular and possibly the most feature-rich cloud service provider. However, it can be more expensive than the other two options. Azure is a close second to AWS in terms of features and popularity. It's typically more cost-friendly than AWS. Google Cloud is the least popular of the three but is often the cheapest option.

Read more: What's the Difference Between AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud?


How to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect

To become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, you must pass a certification exam. AWS offers several different exams for a wide range of expertise levels. If this is your first AWS certification, you will be studying for the SAA-C03 exam (the AWS Solutions Architect - Associate Exam). It does not require extensive, hands-on coding experience. However, basic knowledge of programming concepts can be highly beneficial. You can gain a deeper understanding of the prerequisites, exam content, and benefits in the following sections. 

Education and experience

According to Zippia, 66 percent of solutions architects have a bachelor's degree, 24 percent have a master's degree, and 6 percent have an associate degree. Common areas of study for solutions architects include computer science, business, and electrical or computer engineering. Previous experience working with cloud computing technologies and certifications may be accepted by employers instead of a degree.

Read more: What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

Approved AWS exam prep

You can do your SAA-C03 exam preparation through many different training programs. However, not all of them are offered by Amazon Web Services directly. It is highly recommended do your exam prep with AWS or with an AWS-approved third party. Choosing a program approved by Amazon can help ensure you get the best preparation for your exam.

AWS Solutions Architect–Associate Exam Requirements

While there are no formal requirements to take this exam, Amazon Web Services recommends the following experience and knowledge to pass the AWS Solutions Architect - Associate Exam. These include the following:

  • Possess at least one year of practical experience utilizing AWS technology.

  • Be able to manage AWS services for computing, networking, storage, and databases.

  • Have knowledge of establishing security controls and compliance regulations.

  • Know how to install, manage, and run workloads on AWS.

  • Know how to use the AWS Management Console and AWS Command Line Interface.

  • Be able to recognize technical specifications for an AWS-based application.

  • Know about AWS global infrastructure, AWS networking, AWS security services, and the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

Registering for the exam can be done by creating an account on the Amazon Web Services website. Prep for the exam with AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate on Coursera. This course teaches the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in an AWS solution architect career.

Benefits of becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect

Getting AWS solution architect associate certification is a great way to advance your career in the cloud computing field. The certification demonstrates the holder possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to design, deploy, and manage applications on Amazon Web Services.

AWS solution architect certification enables holders to:

  • Build a solid knowledge of cloud technology 

  • Demonstrate commitment to your career path

  • Improve employability and salary

  • Expand your professional network

  • Develop skills that benefit your employer

Other AWS certifications

There are many different AWS certifications available, each designed for a specific type of professional. For example, there are certifications for programmers, system administrators, security professionals, and data scientists. Each of these certifications is for those with different experiences and goals, and trains additional knowledge and competencies.

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner for beginners

  • AWS Certified Developer (Associate)

  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Associate) 

  • AWS Certified Data Analytics (Specialty) 

  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking (Specialty) 

  • AWS Certified Security (Specialty) 

  • AWS Certified Database (Specialty)

  • AWS Certified Big Data (Specialty) 

  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer (Professional) 

Take the next step with AWS on Coursera

You can take the next step toward becoming an AWS Solutions Architect by enrolling to earn AWS's Cloud Solutions Architect Professional Certificate on Coursera. This beginner-friendly, 100% online, and self-paced program will prepare you for the certification exam while strengthening your knowledge of key AWS Services, data management, and architectural solutions.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a Cloud Solution Architect make?,,25.htm.” Accessed March 31, 2023.

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