Top AWS Certifications Ranked by Difficulty Level

Taylor Karl
Top  AWS Certifications Ranked by Difficulty Level 503 0

If you've started exploring Cloud technology, chances are you've heard of Amazon Web Services (AWS). It's one of the most popular and widely-used Cloud platforms. So, getting AWS certified can be a big boost for your career. But with different certification levels and topics to choose from, figuring out which exams are best for you can be tricky.  Fear not, this blog will break down everything, from the basics to nuances of each certification.

Here's what we'll cover:

What are the different levels of AWS certifications?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a wide range of professional certificates, acknowledging and validating the recipient's extensive AWS cloud skills and expertise. These rigorous assessments are neatly tiered into four distinct levels: Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty. Each subsequent level represents a progression in both technical sophistication and the variety of cloud-based knowledge required.

In this comprehensive guide, we've turned our focus on every level of AWS certification. Our aim is to provide not just an overview but also an insightful deep dive into what each certification entails. We'll discuss the unique objectives of each certificate and identify the target audience best suit for each exam.

Moreover, we'll delve deeper into the structure and content of the exams, highlighting the key topics and skills that you need to master to pass each test. This will include a breakdown of each exam's respective domain percentages, offering you a clear perspective of what to expect in the actual examination. We're confident this guide will offer invaluable assistance in your AWS certification journey.

As you progress through the certification tiers, you’ll find that each level requires a deeper level of AWS Cloud proficiency.

Certification Pathways

Easiest Difficulty: Foundational Certification

If you're just beginning your AWS certification journey, the Foundational level is the perfect place to start. There is only one entry-level certification, known as AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, and it is designed for professionals who want to validate their basic understanding of the AWS platform. It's the ideal stepping stone to the more complex certifications, preparing you to explore the vast AWS ecosystem with clarity and confidence.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is intended for individuals who are looking to build and validate their overall understanding of the AWS cloud, regardless of their job role. This certification is targeted to those with up to 6 months of exposure to AWS Cloud design, implementation, and operations. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam provides an overview of AWS Cloud concepts, including basic architecture principles, key services, security features, and pricing models.

The certification exam at this level has 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions with 50 scored questions and 15 unscored questions used for evaluation purposes. This exam has a 130-minute time limit with a required passing score of 700 out of 1000.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Cloud Concepts (24% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Security and Compliance (30% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Cloud Technology and Services (34% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Billing, Pricing, and Support (12% of exam)

Moderate Difficulty: Associate Certifications

The AWS Associate certifications are the next level after the foundation exam and are moderately difficult when compared to the foundational exam. The goal of these certifications is to show you can identify what's needed to build a solution on AWS and put together a plan for it.

The certification exams at this level have 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions with 50 scored questions and 15 unscored questions used for evaluation purposes. These exams have a 130-minute time limit with a required passing score of 720 out of 1000.

AWS Certified Data Engineer

The AWS Certified Data Engineer cerrtification is intended for those with at least 2 - 3 years of experience with data engineering and 1 - 2 years of experience with AWS services and who understand the effects of the volume, variety, and velocity of data ingestion, transformation, modeling, security, governance, privacy, schema design, and optimal data store design.

The AWS Certified Data Engineer exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Data Ingestion and Transformation (34% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Data Store Management (26% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Data Operations and Support (22% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Data Security and Governance (18% of exam)

AWS Certified Developer

The AWS Certified Developer certification is intended for those in a developer role with 1 or more years of experience developing and maintaining applications using AWS services and who understand at least one high-level programming language, lifecycle management, cloud-native applications for writing code, debugging, functional application development, and development tools.

The AWS Certified Developer exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Development with AWS Services (32% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Security (26% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Deployment (24% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Troubleshooting and Optimization (18% of exam)

AWS Certified Solutions Architect

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is intended for those in a solutions architect role with at least 1 year of experience designing cloud solutions based on the AWS Well-Architected Framework that use AWS services.

The AWS Certified Developer exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Design Secure Architectures (30% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Design Resilient Architectures (26% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Design High-Performing Architectures (24% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Design Cost-Optimized Architectures (20% of exam)

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification is intended for those who are system administrators in a cloud operations role and have 1 or more years of experience with deployment, management, networking, operating workloads, and security on AWS.

The AWS Certified Data Engineer exam covers six domains:

  • Domain 1: Monitoring, Logging, and Remediation (20% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Reliability and Business Continuity (16% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Deployment, Provisioning, and Automation (18% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Security and Compliance (16% of exam)
  • Domain 5: Networking and Content Delivery (18% of the exam)
  • Domain 6: Cost and Performance Optimization (12% of the exam)

Hard Difficulty: Professional Certifications

AWS Professional Level exams are the next step following the Associate Level exams. The exams at this level are more difficult and require a higher level of knowledge and experience to pass them. The goal of these certifications is to show you can design secure, optimized, and modern applications and automate processes on AWS.

The certification exams at this level have 75 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions with 65 scored questions and 10 unscored questions used for evaluation purposes. These exams have a 130-minute time limit with a required passing score of 750 out of 1000.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification is intended for those in a DevOps engineer role with 2 or more years’ experience in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed systems and services on AWS environments, as well as experience with the software development lifecycle and programming/scripting.

The AWS Certified Data Engineer exam covers six domains:

  • Domain 1: SDLC Automation (22% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Configuration Management of IaC (17% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Resilient Cloud Solutions (15% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Monitoring and Logging (15% of exam)
  • Domain 5: Incident and Event Response (14% of exam)
  • Domain 6: Security and Compliance (17% of exam)

AWS Certified Solutions Architect

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is intended for those in a solutions architect role with 2 or more years’ experience in evaluating cloud application requirements to make architectural recommendations for deployment and designing and implementing cloud solutions using AWS using the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Design Solutions for Organizational Complexity (26% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Design for New Solutions (29% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Continuous Improvement for Existing Solutions (25% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Accelerate Workload Migration and Modernization (20% of exam)

Hardest Difficulty: Specialty Level Exams

AWS Specialty Level exams are highest step in the AWS certification family. The exams at this level are the most difficult and require a higher level of specialized knowledge and experience to pass them. The goal of these certifications is to show you have deep skills in each specialty area enabling you to provide expert-level knowledge to your stakeholders or customers.

The certification exams at this level have 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions with 50 scored questions and 15 unscored questions used for evaluation purposes. Two of the exams (Advanced Networking and Security have a 170-minute time limit and Machine Learning) has a 180-minute time limit. All exams have a required passing score of 750 out of 1000.

AWS Certified Advanced Networking

The AWS Certified Advanced Networking certification is intended for those in an AWS networking specialist role with 5 or more years of networking experience and 2 or more years of networking experience in a cloud and hybrid networking environment, implementing core AWS services using best practices, using tools for deploying and automating hybrid and cloud AWS networking tasks, and implementing secure AWS networks using native networking constructs and services.

The AWS Certified Advanced Networking exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Network Design (30% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Network Implementation (26% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Network Management and Operation (20% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Network Security, Compliance, and Governance (24% of exam)

AWS Certified Machine Learning

The AWS Certified Machine Learning exam is intended for those in an artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) development or data science role with at least 2 years of experience developing, architecting, and running ML or deep learning workloads in the AWS Cloud.

The AWS Certified Data Analytics exam covers four domains:

  • Domain 1: Data Engineering (20% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Exploratory Data Analysis (24% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Modeling (36% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Machine Learning Implementation and Operations (20% of exam)

AWS Certified Security

The AWS Certified Security exam is intended for those with 3 - 5 or more years of experience designing and implementing security solutions and 2 or more years’ experience in securing AWS workloads and who understand specialized data classifications, AWS protection mechanisms, data encryption, secure internet protocols, and AWS security services and service features to provide a secure production environment and deployment.

The AWS Certified Data Analytics exam covers six domains:

  • Domain 1: Threat Detection and Incident Response (14% of the exam)
  • Domain 2: Security Logging and Monitoring (18% of the exam)
  • Domain 3: Infrastructure Security (20% of the exam)
  • Domain 4: Identity and Access Management (16% of exam)
  • Domain 5: Data Protection (18% of exam)
  • Domain 6: Management and Security Governance (14% of exam)

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey to AWS certification is a strategic move for anyone looking to advance their career in the cloud technology field. This comprehensive guide has aimed to demystify the various levels of AWS certifications, offering a clear path from the foundational level through to the challenging specialty certifications. By understanding the specifics of each certification, including the targeted skills and exam structures, you can make informed decisions about which certifications align best with your career goals and expertise.

Whether you're just starting with the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or aiming for a specialized certification like AWS Certified Machine Learning or AWS Certified Security, each step in the AWS certification path represents a significant milestone in your professional development. With thorough preparation, utilizing the abundant resources provided by AWS, including whitepapers, practice exams, and detailed FAQs, you can confidently approach these exams and validate your skills and knowledge.

Remember, AWS certification is not just about passing exams; it's about gaining a deeper understanding of cloud technologies and how to leverage them to drive innovation and efficiency in your organization. As you continue to build your AWS expertise, you'll not only enhance your professional credentials but also contribute to the growing community of AWS certified professionals who are shaping the future of cloud computing. Good luck on your certification journey!

 

Print