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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The Amazon Web Services (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 in high demand, and working as one can be fun. 

To work as an AWS solution architect, you need advanced technical skills. You must also be able 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. They work with customers to understand their needs and requirements and design and build 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. 

They are also responsible for monitoring the solution's performance and troubleshooting issues. Here is a breakdown of some typical AWS solution architect tasks:

  • 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 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, an AWS solution architect’s skills will cover cloud computing, networking, and storage. They become experts with Amazon Web Services 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 communicate effectively and appropriately with all stakeholders about technical topics. 

Here are some more competencies you’ll need to work as an AWS solution architect.

  • Flexibility and desire to learn: An AWS solution architect must be flexible, adapt to new technologies quickly, and want to learn new things to keep up with the latest industry trends.

  • Analytical skills: Analyzing data and problems quickly and efficiently to find creative solutions to complex problems.

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

  • Time management: Effective time management is essential for a solution architect. Multiple work streams often flow simultaneously, and tasks must be prioritized to meet milestones and deadlines.

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

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

AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are the most popular cloud service providers. So, what’s the difference? AWS is very popular and possibly the most feature-rich. 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 least expensive option.

Types of AWS cloud computing services

AWS is a market-leading option for those wanting to work with cloud computing solutions that provide the flexibility and scalability businesses need. 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)

IaaS is a cloud computing model in which users 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 infrastructure or need the flexibility to scale up or down quickly. 

Software as a service (SaaS)

SaaS is a cloud computing model that offers software on a subscription basis. This means an organization can access and use software without installing it on its server. 

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS 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 who want to develop their own applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Becoming an AWS-certified solutions architect

Becoming an AWS solution architect is not difficult, but you must do a few things 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 is no actual qualification for this job, a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field can be advantageous. 

According to a Zippia study, 66 per cent of solutions architects have a bachelor's degree, and 24 per cent hold a master’s degree [1]. Several years of experience working with cloud computing technologies can also be a benefit.

Join an approved AWS training program.

Many training programs can help prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect–Associate Exam. Amazon offers some of these programs, while third-party providers provide others.  Choosing an Amazon-approved program can help ensure you’re best prepared for the exam.

Pass the AWS Solutions Architect–Associate Exam

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

Requirements to take the exam 

There are no formal requirements to take this exam, but AWS recommends the experience and knowledge needed to pass. These include the following:

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

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

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

You can register for the exam by creating an account on the AWS website. Prep for the exam with AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate on Coursera. This course can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in an AWS solution architect career. 

What is the average AWS solution architect's salary?

The average annual pay for cloud solutions architects in Canada is $142,260 [2]. The career outlook for this position is positive. The Government of Canada Job Bank projects the job of cloud architect to have a “good” status of job prospects for multiple regions in the country, with industry growth leading to new job creation from 2022 to 2024 [3]. 

Why get an AWS solutions architect associate certification?

Getting an AWS solution architect associate certification is a great way to advance in cloud computing. The certification demonstrates that 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

Many different AWS certifications are available, each designed for a specific type of professional. For example, there are certifications for programmers, system administrators, security professionals, and data scientists. Each certification 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) 

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, you likely have the skills to build toward an AWS solution architect role. 

Launch your AWS solutions architect career.

If you're ready to become an AWS solution architect, consider taking online courses or completing a Professional Certificate to learn skills and knowledge to build your cloud architecture career.

Get started with AWS Fundamentals Specialization or AWS Cloud Solutions Architect Professional Certificate, offered by AWS on Coursera.

Article sources


Zippa. “Solutions Architect Education Requirements,” Accessed May 14, 2024.

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