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What It Takes To Earn a Top-Paying AWS Certification

AWS certification statsBack in the spring of 2013 when Amazon Web Services (AWS) unveiled its certification program, could anyone foresee how popular AWS certifications would become in such a short period of time? Fast forward four years, and you’ll notice a significant global demand represented by testing centers around the world. AWS exams are now offered in multiple languages, and an increasing number of IT professionals are interested in knowing what goes into obtaining an AWS certification (or possibly multiple certifications).

Despite only being in the marketplace for four years, AWS certifications have become a featured highlight whenever IT salary reports are released. The high adoption rate of AWS cloud services by organizations around the globe has translated into some of the top salaries for those IT professionals choosing to pursue these certifications in particular.

Of the thousands of IT professionals who participated in the Global Knowledge 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey, 625 respondents said they hold an AWS certification. The average salary of an AWS-certified IT professional is roughly $114,000 – placing it in the top five highest-paying certifications in the United States and Canada.

In some cases, respondents reported combining AWS certifications with other certifications to expand skill sets and increase salaries even more. For example, the mean salary for those with both AWS and the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credentials is $152,611. For those possessing ITIL® and AWS certifications, the average salary was $116,014—only slightly higher than holding only the AWS credential alone.

The AWS role-based certification program offers candidates both associate and professional-level paths designed for developers, systems operations administrators and solutions architects.

Here are the highlights of each certification including what you need to know to earn them.


AWS Certified Solutions Architect

Amazon offers both associate and professional levels of its AWS Certified Solutions Architect certifications. You must earn your associate-level certification before advancing to the professional level.

Associate Level

Based on our 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey, the average salary for those holding AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level in the United States and Canada is $119,233. A few concepts candidates should know prior to taking the exam include:

  • Designing and deploying scalable, highly available systems on AWS
  • Selecting the correct AWS service based on requirements 
  • Deploying on-premises apps to AWS

Professional Level

Once you have attained the Associate certificate, IT specialists should consider the Professional level as the next step. According to the 70 respondents in our 2017 survey, this certification brings in an average salary of $116,838, but bear in mind this number may fluctuate due to the small sample size of respondents. Candidates should have experience:

  • Designing and deploying dynamically scalable and reliable applications on AWS
  • An ability to migrate complex multi-tier applications on AWS

Learn how to achieve AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate and Professional certifications.



AWS Certified Developer

The average salary for those holding the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certificate is $116,456. To achieve this increasingly popular certification, candidates should have:

  • A good grasp on choosing the right AWS services for the application
  • Leveraging software development kits (SDKs) to interact with services from your application
  • Writing code that optimizes performance
  • Code-level application security

Learn how to achieve AWS Certified Developer Associate certification.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

The average salary for those holding the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is $111,966. This certification validates technical expertise in deployment, management and operations on AWS. Candidates seeking this certification should understand concepts such as:

  • Implementing and controlling the flow of data to and from AWS
  • Migrating on-premises apps to AWS 
  • Identifying operational cost control mechanisms

Learn how to achieve AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate certification.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer 

The AWS Certified Devops Engineer is the professional-level certification to both the Developer and SysOps Administrator associate level – meaning you must hold one of those certifications prior to obtaining this one. In the 2017 IT Skills and Salary report, a total of 34 respondents from the United States and Canada hold this certification. The small sample pool generated an average salary of $108,315. This certification validates technical expertise in provisioning, operating and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. Candidates should have a thorough understanding of concepts such as:

  • Implementing and managing continuous delivery systems and methodologies on AWS
  • Maintaining tools to automate operational processes 
  • Security controls and governance processes

Learn how to achieve AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional certification.

As interest in AWS continues to skyrocket, the need to validate AWS skills through certification will continue to grow and shine a light on the IT professionals who achieve these top-paying certifications. As with anything else in life, learning the skills and practicing helps pave the way to success. AWS offers resources such as hands-on practice labs and quests prior to sitting for the certification. Plus, there’s always authorized training courses focusing on learning skills and applying them to your job and exam readiness workshops focusing on the exam itself to get you ready for test day.


Certification 2017 Average Salary
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate $119,233
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $116,838
AWS Certified Developer – Associate $116,456
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate $111,966
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer $108,315