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AWS Certified Solutions Architect Career Path

By Ryan Kroonenburg  |  December 08, 2017  |   Career   |  

How to get a job as a Solutions Architect

AWS Certified Solutions Architect is one of the most in-demand (and well-paid) roles in the IT industry today. Boasting a salary of up to $150,000 a year in a field that continues to grow exponentially, it’s easy to see why so many people are devoting themselves to the intensive study of AWS technologies. But, what does the path to a Solutions Architect role look like? In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree (Computer Science customarily preferred) and receiving your AWS certification, there are several skills and areas of experience employers look for when considering AWS Solutions Architect candidates.

Relevant Work Experience for a Solutions Architect Career

Software Development: Working as an AWS Solutions Architect requires basic skills any developer should already have. You’ll need to have a strong working knowledge of BASH scripting, and should be able to code (at least a bit) in Python, JavaScript, Java, or C++, especially if you intend to work in the world of Serverless architectures, where fluency in one of these four languages is a must.

Data Security: Experience with data security requirements aligned with the PCI DSS, ISO, HIPPA, and SOC compliance laws is extremely attractive to potential employers.

Networking: Networking experience (especially with hybrid cloud solutions) is a skill requested by almost all employers in the world of cloud. Working as a system or network administrator can help you level-up this skill. Get as much experience with networking as possible prior to applying for AWS Certified Solutions Architect positions.

Demonstrable AWS experience: Three years hands-on experience with Amazon Web Services (working either independently or for a company) is about what you will need to get a job as an AWS Certified Solutions Architect. Experience in a lower-level job, like Cloud Strategist, Cloud Security Specialist, Software Engineer, or Cloud Systems Engineer will help prepare you for an AWS Solutions Architect role and show prospective employers that you have learned the technologies from the “ground-up.”

 

OS, Container, and Deployment Tools Experience

Linux: Experience with the Linux operating system is a prerequisite to a career as an AWS Solutions Architect. Having the knowledge and experience required to execute basic Unix commands  and use Linux Container technologies like Docker can be achieved through an entry-level CS job or through independent study.

The Architect’s Toolbox: you’ll need experience with the tools used to build, ship, and deploy code into your AWS environment. Employers usually look for experience with at least one of the following: Docker, Ansible, Chef, Jenkins, Puppet, and Capistrano. If you need a place to start, brush up on your Docker Fundamentals.

Infrastructure as Code: Cloud Computing is all about reducing your infrastructure to code, and the single most important thing you can do going into an AWS Solutions Architect role is be a CloudFormation wizard. Live it. Breathe it. Love it.

Other tools: Jira is an advanced project management tool/scrum board commonly used by software companies to manage complex projects. Jira is almost infinitely configurable, and having a sound grasp of its inner workings is both attractive to prospective employers and something that will set you apart from other candidates.

 

Other Useful Experience and Knowledge

Staying up-to-date on industry trends: Understanding not only the history of cloud, but also where it’s headed is a great way to show employers that you’re committed to the continuous learning necessary to an ongoing career as an AWS Solutions Architect. Reading industry blogs and forums is a great way to stay up-to-speed; but, if your free time is limited, check out our weekly recap of all things AWS.

By furthering your knowledge in the exciting and quickly growing field of cloud computing, challenging and high-paying jobs such as an AWS Certified Solutions Architect will become more readily available to you. Remember, experience counts: working at lower-level positions for at least three years will give you the experience needed to catapult you into the career you’re shooting for.


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