AWS Cloud Certifications Decoded

Many enterprise organizations run all or part of their software environments in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, with more companies migrating to AWS every single day. Given the complexity, having a thorough understanding of how AWS environments work is essential to success. AWS cloud certifications attest to the depth & strength of a cloud engineer’s skills, with emphasis on hands-on experience and best practices.

Contrast an engineer with proper training around cloud security with a “cloud cowboy” simply winging it. Which would make you and your organization feel more confident? Not only would you not know what you don’t know, you could actually be broadcasting to the world that you don’t. Certifications don’t guarantee results — we’ve met a few cloud engineers who seemed to have “passed the test” — but they can be helpful in vetting talented vendors. With start with the assumption that AWS certifications are generally desirable. Then, we’ll map out what the different certifications mean so you can make more informed buying decisions.

Classes of AWS Cloud Certifications

From a high level, there are essentially four classes of AWS cloud certifications:


Cloud engineers with a base of 6 months of fundamental AWS Cloud and industry knowledge should have enough experience to earn certification (studying still required!).


The Associate certifications are targeted to cloud engineers with a year of experience solving problems and implementing solutions in the AWS Cloud.


After 2 years of experience in designing, operating, and troubleshooting solutions using the AWS Cloud, engineers may be ready for Professional certification.


Engineers with specialized technical AWS Cloud experience can earn domain-oriented certifications.

The Most Common AWS Cloud Certifications

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Cloud Practitioner is entry-level certification that validates foundational understanding of the AWS cloud. Engineers should have critical knowledge sufficient for implementing cloud initiatives.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

With one year of experience solving problems and implementing solutions using the AWS Cloud, the Solutions Architect – Associate credential validates critical skills for designing & implementing distributed systems on AWS.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Solutions Architect – Professional is targeted to engineers with two years of comprehensive experience in designing, operating, and troubleshooting in the AWS Cloud. It validates the engineer’s ability to design, deploy, and evaluate applications across diverse, complex requirements.

AWS Certified Developer – Associate

Certified Developer – Associate engineers should be able to write and deploy cloud-based applications.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate

The SysOps Administrator – Associate credential attests to the ability of an engineer to deploy, manage, and operate workloads on AWS.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional validates an engineer’s ability to automate testing and deployment (CI/CD!) of AWS infrastructure and applications.

AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

Engineers with AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty credentials should be able to design & maintain network architecture across AWS services.

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty is intended for cloud engineers who have performed an AWS security role for at least 2 years. The credential attests to an understanding of specialized data classifications, data encryption methods, secure Internet protocols, and a working knowledge of AWS security services.

AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty

The AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty certification, for engineers who perform a development or data science role, validates design, implementation, deployment, and maintenance skills related to machine learning (ML) solutions.

AWS Certified Database – Specialty

Database – Specialty validates expertise in AWS database services. Engineers should be able to design, recommend, and maintain optimal AWS database solutions for a broad range of use cases.

AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty

AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty validates expertise in using AWS data lakes and analytics services to get insights from data.

Why AWS Cloud Certifications Matter

Almost a third of all web applications run in AWS. As a result, that environment has become complex. AWS certifications attest to an understanding of AWS as AWS designed their services to be consumed.  Cloud cowboys can be dangerous — they don’t know what they don’t know. Sure, after watching videos on YouTube, perhaps they can perform many common tasks. But they can also make critical mistakes with cloud economics, workload management, or cloud security. We’re growing more dependent on technology in general. And with cloud deployments specifically, expertise saves time and money, while mitigating risk.

At Webapper, we preach the benefits of the cloud: uptime, scalability, and performance. All these cornerstones are best served by trained and credentialed AWS cloud engineers…

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