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How To Earn a Top-Paying AWS Certification & Salary

Oct. 06, 2021
Global Knowledge

Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications have become a leading credential, partly because the need for cloud professionals is so great today and these certifications provide an excellent way of validating one’s proficiency in a specific domain.

Just behind cybersecurity, cloud computing experiences the widest skills gaps across all disciplines, meaning not enough professionals have the skills to successfully do the job. According to the IT Skills and Salary Report, IT decision-makers say cloud computing is the second hardest area to hire for (cybersecurity is no. 1).

To make matters worse, the demand for cloud services continues to rise, leaving many organizations between a rock and a hard place when it comes to sourcing and keeping skilled talent.

For these reasons, AWS certifications are also associated with some of the highest salaries in the industry. A primary example, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate ranks highly on our 15 Top-Paying Certifications List. In 2021, professionals with this certification reported making an average of $159,033, ranking it in the top three.

In compiling this list, we found that hundreds of IT Skills and Salary survey respondents in the US and Canada hold AWS certifications. So, we dug into the data to learn about the people who hold these certifications, how much they make (on average), and what makes them successful.

The data shows that on average these professionals make $141,540 — ranking as one of the highest-paying certification categories in North America.

But what goes into a salary like that? What skills or knowledge do you need to reach these levels of expertise? We break it down.


Snapshot: Top-Paying AWS Certifications

Certification 2021 Average Salary
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $161,409
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional $154,548
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate $159,033
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate $158,777
AWS Certified Developer – Associate $159,767


You Must Stay Dedicated to Earning AWS Certifications

When it comes to earning any certification, you can count on it taking time and resources (perhaps several cups of coffee), to acquire the knowledge or skill that will help you pass the exam.

Not only is it important to study the material, but it also helps to reinforce these concepts with everyday tasks, hands-on labs, or even with a colleague. By constantly challenging yourself and training on new practices and principles, you separate yourself from the rest.

As it relates to cloud roles, this means fully embracing and committing to the cloud, ensuring you have redundancy in mind, and planning for all scenarios to keep data secure and available (and costs down).


What Are the Top-Paying AWS Certifications?

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

Below, read about some of the leading certifications from AWS and how to earn them.


AWS Certified Solutions Architect

Amazon Web Services 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 (No. 3 on our 15 Top-Paying Certification List)

Based on our 2021 IT Skills and Salary Survey, the average salary for those holding AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate level in the United States and Canada is $159,033.

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

Want to know the details on how to prepare for your exam? Read our comprehensive AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification Prep Guide. It highlights the important FAQs and provides hints and tips from our experts.
Popular Courses for this Certification:

Practice Exams

Read also:


Professional Level

Once you have obtained the Associate certificate, IT specialists should consider the Professional level as the next step. It has an average salary of $161,409, according to the 56 survey respondents who hold this certification.

Candidates should have:

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

Popular Courses for this Certification:

Read also:


AWS Certified Developer

The average salary for those holding the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certificate is $159,767.

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


Popular Courses for this Certification:


AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

The average salary for those holding the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is $158,777. 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

Want to know all the details on how to prepare for your exam? Read our comprehensive AWS SysOps Administrator Certification Prep Guide which highlights all the important FAQs and even provides hints and tips from our experts.
Popular Course for this Certification:


AWS Certified DevOps Engineer

The AWS Certified Devops Engineer is the professional-level certification for both the Developer and SysOps Administrator associate level, meaning you must hold one of those certifications prior to obtaining this one.

In the IT Skills and Salary Report, a total of 27 respondents from the United States and Canada hold this certification. The small sample pool generated an average salary of $154,548.

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


Popular Courses for this Certification:


The Value of AWS Certifications Continue to Rise

As interest in AWS continues to increase, 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. From 2019 to 2021, the reported average salary of those with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate level increased by 17%. For others on this list, the percentage is higher.

Learning the skills and practicing the concepts helps pave the way to success. AWS offers resources such as hands-on practice labs and quests prior to sitting for the certification exam.


Want unlimited AWS training?

Check out our unlimited training subscription GK Polaris. It provides access to AWS instructor-led classes, on-demand courses or both! As well as certification prep, hands-on labs, practice exams and more.

As an authorized training partner, Global Knowledge offers AWS certification training courses focused on learning skills and applying them to your job, along with exam readiness workshops focusing on the exam itself to get you ready for test day.

Get more details on AWS certification training here