AWS Training and Certification Blog

How I survived and thrived to achieve AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Editor’s note: This is the personal testimonial from a professional in a non-technical role about why she wanted to achieve AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. Before taking this exam, the AWS Certification team recommends one year of hands-on experience, such as labs or building in the AWS Cloud on your own.

If you’re thinking about pursuing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, there’s a lot to consider. For me, I had to weigh my busy work schedule—and a healthy dose of self-doubt—against the benefits of developing technical cloud skills that would help me grow professionally and aid my team.

Let me start with this: I’m not a technical person. Yes, I work for AWS, so I have a good understanding of the AWS Cloud. But neither a bachelor’s degree nor my experience as a certified accountant and management consultant prepared me to become a cloud architect. So, that begs the question:

Why would someone like me—who’s in a non-technical role—want to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate? Everyone has their own reasons, and it’s important to explore them.

Know why you’re pursuing certification

Even though I don’t have a technical background, my motivation for undertaking this challenge stemmed from my work at AWS. I assist our large enterprise customers in Korea with planning and implementing their AWS Skills Guild programs. AWS Skills Guild is a comprehensive skills enablement program designed to build cloud fluency across organizations.

For me, it was about walking the walk. I wanted to understand more about the AWS Certification challenge I was encouraging customers to join by living the experience and exploring the complexities of what it takes to earn an AWS Certification.

What’s your motivation to prepare for an AWS Certification? Keep that answer firm in your mind, because there’ll be times when it feels too hard and you’ll need to remember your motivation to push through. In my experience, there were times when I thought I wouldn’t succeed, but my why helped me get through.

Believe you can do it, even if you fail the first time

Spoiler alert: I failed my first attempt at the certification exam, and I was upset. I hold myself to a high standard and thought I worked hard enough and prepared well. But I learned a secret on this journey: no one cares if you fail. Really. If you fail, pick yourself up and push through a second or third time, because people really respect that. And guess what, when I failed, I didn’t lose my job. Most people didn’t even know I was taking the exam, and I learned that it’s actually quite normal to fail this exam the first time.

My advice is to look at each attempt as a learning experience. As Yoda once said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” If you can see an unsuccessful attempt as just another step in your learning journey, you’ll undoubtedly reach your goals in the end. If you ever feel like you’re not going to make it or you don’t deserve it, read this amazing blog about slaying imposter syndrome.

Learn your way—but use the resources and people available to you

Everyone has their own study regimens, and there are many ways to approach training and preparing for your AWS Certification. One of the great things I discovered about this process was the versatility of the training material out there. With so many fantastic resources and different ways to learn, I was able to approach studying in the way that was most comfortable for me (more on that in a minute).

The exam is difficult, but there are great resources available. On my first go-around, I didn’t give myself permission to use all these resources. I was afraid of asking questions and appearing silly or foolish. As it turns out, this was actually an act of self-sabotage. Take your time and ask questions—even if you think they’re silly. You’ll find that other people may be struggling with the exact same question, and it’s not so silly after all.

My study approach included a mixture of self-paced digital training courses and live, online classes with an expert AWS instructor. Check out this visual that outlines the available learning paths for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam. I also took practice exams, attended the AWS Certified Solution Architect exam readiness training, and read about the technology in the AWS FAQs. All the knowledge you need to pass is readily available. Take special note of the FAQs, because when I failed my first exam, I hadn’t referenced them. They’re incredibly helpful for making sense of some of the trickier material.

Finally, I’ll just put a plug in for community-based learning. One option is the Get AWS Certified: Solutions Architect Challenge, which offers a structured path to prepare for the exam, including free training and support.

Celebrate your success

When you pass the exam, it’s time to celebrate! I’m not going to tell you what you should do—everyone is different—but I treated myself to my favorite indulgent food. You can also share your AWS Certification achievement with a digital badge. Then, make sure you use the skills you’ve acquired. There are so many exciting and challenging paths you can take working in the AWS Cloud, and your new certification will open up new opportunities for you. Enjoy! You deserve it.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification has helped me grow professionally. It’s helped me guide our enterprise customers when they’re designing their certification challenges, study cohorts, and communities.

I hope this has been helpful for you, and know you have my support as you take on the challenge. I’ve summarized the resources that were critical to my success below.

Good luck with studying and your exam. You’ve got this!

Esther’s tips to help you earn your AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification

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