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Getting certified as an AWS Solution Architect (Associate) if cloud development isn't your job

Not everyone looking to get cloud certified has a computer science or engineering/development background. Some might wonder if they have no programming experience, then can I become an AWS certified Solutions Architect Associate? The short answer is yes, with some caveats!

Solutions Architecture is how to build a technical answer to a problem or question, or end user requirement for an application (solution) and how to do it in the most cost-efficient, optimized, secure, resilient or scalable way.

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In the SAA (C03) I haven't found a single programming/coding question in my preparation and actual exam. What you will need is experience in understanding networking, systems, well-architected concepts and intimately understand the services you would need to design application architectures with.

If you don't have a good understanding or working knowledge of AWS, then maybe the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification is a better first one to get, to get used to the exam format, process and get a basic understanding of the concepts.

In this piece, we'll cover 5 main resources and learning tools that I used to pass my exam in May 2023. I do work in a product role in public cloud, so have a high level of exposure and knowledge of AWS and work daily with engineering, architecture, design and product on public cloud in the past 3 years, so you might need to do some more studying to get to a good base level than I had, but I do have a lot of tips on how to get that knowledge quicker! Also, I booked my exam 3 months in advance, to motivate myself to study and pass it, that works for me, but you do what works for you!

1. Get the basics down

The most important thing I did before starting to study for the exam, was review all the services and their respective information. One resource that I found super helpful for this were the AWS SAA Cheat Sheets from Digital Cloud. They are all separated by service class, similar to the AWS console layout, and cover all the services you need to understand and learn about.

2. Go on a journey

With this I mean a learning journey! In my case, I chose the Cloud Academy AWS SAA certification path, mainly because as an AWS Community Builder I get a free license. It was really helpful and I do cheat a bit by watching the videos at 1.5x speed, but who doesn't! The knowledge checks are also really helpful, and I always take time to review what I got right and wrong to improve for next time. I did the whole course in a month during my train commute, I try to link the learning with rituals or activities, so I commit to it.

3. Play around

My Cloud Academy license also offers access to their lab playground and hands-on labs, super useful especially if you don't do a lot of hands-on activities as part of your role or studying. You can also go and get a free AWS account to try it out, but I prefer the CA environments as I don't need to worry about forgetting services on and getting a huge bill!

4. Nothing like the real thing

Take practice exams, I generally take 2-3 a week while I'm studying to see how my level is improving and see my progress to keep me motivated. I do try to vary the platforms I take them on, to get a variety of questions, but the Cloud Academy ones and AWS example papers were great for this.

5. Do a refresher but not too much

The days before my exam I stopped reviewing the learning journey and focused at doing one pass of the free AWS Skills Builder course to do a quick recap of everything I've been learning, then did 1-2 mock exams on the Cloud Academy app. I was trying to let the knowledge solidify and not worry about mixing it up!

If you do get your certification, remember that does not mean you can get hired tomorrow as an AWS SAA at a company, so you will need to get some practical experience in tech/cloud and demonstrate real application of your skills for the role you are aiming for.

Good luck if you are taking your AWS certification, I believe in you!

Remember: you don't need to code to be AWS SAA certified!

Top comments (4)

hectorfernandezdev profile image
Hector Fernandez CloudparaTodo

Great content

alexandrammr profile image
Alex Radu

Thank you so much 😊

prasadkpd profile image
Prasad Lakshan

Thank you for sharing this valuable content

alexandrammr profile image
Alex Radu

Thank you for stopping by to read it @prasadkpd 😊