What Is an AWS Solution Architect? Course, Career, Job, Salary

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Get started in an AWS solution architect career. Learn about the different AWS solution architect jobs and AWS solution architect certifications in this guide.

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The AWS solution architect may be one of tech's most exciting and rewarding roles. The job involves designing, building, and maintaining scalable and reliable systems using AWS infrastructure.  AWS solution architect jobs are high in demand, and working as one can also be fun. 

An advanced technical skill set is needed to work as an AWS solution architect. They must have the ability to communicate effectively with technical and non-technical staff and have strong project management skills.

What does an AWS solution architect do?

AWS Solution Architects help organizations design and implement cloud solutions using Amazon Web Services (AWS), working with customers to understand their needs and requirements and designing and building the most efficient and effective solution possible. They also collaborate with other teams within AWS projects to ensure the solution is implemented correctly and efficiently. In addition, the responsibility for monitoring the solution's performance and troubleshooting any issues that may arise is theirs. Here is a breakdown of some of the typical tasks performed 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.

Required skills and characteristics for AWS solution architect

A combination of technical, business and workplace skills is essential to becoming an AWS solution architect. On the technical side, AWS solution architect’s skills will cover cloud computing, networking, and storage. They become experts with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and how to use its various services.

On the business side, experience working in an IT or software development role enables AWS architects to understand the functional side of the business. They must be able to communicate effectively with all stakeholders about technical topics at an appropriate level. 

Here are some more competencies needed to work as an AWS solution architect.

  • Flexibility and desire to learn: An AWS solution 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 and problems quickly and efficiently to find creative solutions to complex problems.

  • Problem-solving aptitude: Possess excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to think outside the box and break complex problems down to find workable solutions.

  • Time management: Managing time effectively is essential as a solution architect. Often multiple work streams are being done simultaneously with a need to prioritize tasks to meet milestones and deadlines.

  • Teamwork and workplace skills: AWS architects must be team players, having to work well with others in a collaborative environment. They must also have the ability to thrive in a fast-paced workplace.

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?

Types of AWS cloud computing services

For those wanting to work with cloud computing solutions that can provide the flexibility and scalability that businesses need, then AWS is a market-leading option. AWS offers three primary cloud computing categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service is a cloud computing model where users can rent infrastructure resources from AWS, such as storage, networking, and computing power. It's a viable option for those who don’t want to invest in their own infrastructure or if you need the flexibility to scale up or down quickly. 

Software as a service (SaaS)

Software as a Service is a cloud computing model that offers the software on a subscription basis. This means access and use of the software without having to install it on a user's server. 

Platform as a service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service is a cloud computing model where users can deploy and run applications on AWS without managing the underlying infrastructure. This is an excellent option for those wanting to focus on developing their own applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Becoming an AWS-certified solutions architect

Becoming an AWS solution architect is not difficult, but a few things need to be done first to make it happen. Here are the steps:

Education and experience

Becoming an AWS solutions architect requires the proper education and experience. While there's no actual AWS solution architect qualification for this job role, a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field can be advantageous. Several years of experience working with cloud computing technologies can also be a benefit.

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

Join an approved AWS training program

Many different training programs can help prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate Exam. Amazon offers some of these programs, while third-party providers offer others.  Choosing a program approved by Amazon can help ensure the best preparation for the exam.

Pass the AWS Solutions Architect–Associate Exam

After completing an approved training program, earning certification will require passing the AWS Solutions Architect–Associate Exam. This exam tests knowledge of AWS solutions architecture and ensures the ability to design and implement scalable, reliable, and secure architectures. 

Requirements to take the exam 

While there are no formal requirements to take this exam, Amazon Web Services recommends the experience and knowledge needed to pass. 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.

The Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate Course on Coursera is a great place to start if you're ready to take the next steps to become an AWS solution architect. This course can help you confidently prepare for the exam and enable you to learn the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in an AWS solution architect career.



Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

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What is the average AWS solution architect's salary?

Cloud solutions architects can expect to earn an average salary of $139,912 per year [1]. The career outlook for this position is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites growth in cloud computing as one of the key drivers of the expected 13 percent growth in demand for IT professionals between 2020 and 2030 [2].

Why get an AWS solutions architect associate certification?

Getting AWS solution architect associate certification is a great way to get ahead in the cloud computing world. 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 experience 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) 

Is an AWS solutions architect role right for me?

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether an AWS solutions architect role is right for you. Think about what kinds of tasks you enjoy doing. Do you like working with code? Do you like designing systems? If you answered yes to either of these questions, an AWS solution architect role might be a good fit. 

Then consider your skill set. Do you have experience working with AWS? Do you feel confident using the AWS console and CLI? If so, then you likely have the skills required to build towards an AWS solution architect role. 

Ready to take the next steps to become an AWS solutions architect?

Finally, ask yourself if you're ready for a challenge. The AWS solution architect role can be demanding, but it can also be very rewarding. If you're up for a challenge and excited to learn new things, this career might be right for you.

Get started with AWS Fundamentals Specialization, offered by AWS on Coursera.



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Article sources

1. Glassdoor. “How much does a Cloud Solution Architect make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/cloud-solutions-architect-salary-SRCH_KO0,25.htm.”  Accessed August 31, 2022.

2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “ Computer and Information Technology Occupational Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.”  Accessed August 31, 2022.

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