What Does an AWS Solution Architect Do? (With Salary)

Updated January 26, 2023

AWS, short for "Amazon Web Services," is a common cloud computing service that provides businesses with a number of advantages for managing business processes. AWS helps companies reduce their costs and create solutions to improve their operations, and the AWS solution architects facilitate the use of this system in businesses to achieve their goals and overcome challenges. Understanding what an AWS solutions architect does is key to determining if it's a suitable career for you.

In this article, we answer the question "What does an AWS solution architect do?", explore the benefits, share their salary and job outlook, explain how to become one, list skills to develop to excel in this role, and provide interview questions with example answers.

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What does an AWS solution architect do?

To answer the question "What does an AWS solution architect do?", it's vital to first understand what they are. These are certified cloud computing experts who use Amazon's web service to design the architecture of a company's cloud assets and implement their designs. They use their expertise in technical cloud strategy to provide a highly sought-after service to companies migrating to and maintaining cloud computing.

AWS solution architects gain a certification that validates their knowledge and experience. After preparing and studying, those pursuing the certificate sit and pass an exam that certifies them to work as architects of a company's cloud computing systems. The certificate also validates that architects are prepared to handle high-risk security and architecture processes.

Benefits of holding an AWS certificate

The AWS solution architect certificate validates that those who are familiar with the system can handle complex and fundamental cloud services. Holding the certificate means that candidates wanting to work as cloud architects have a distinct advantage, as the certification is often a prerequisite for candidates. Because AWS architects are high in demand, holding an AWS architect certificate can lead to a highly lucrative and financially rewarding career.

How to become an AWS solution architect

Here are 4 essential steps for becoming an AWS solution architect:

1. Consider your career path

Before you decide on whether to pursue an AWS architect certification, it's vital to know what job prospects you hope to pursue. AWS certifications are best suited to those who wish to work with cloud-based systems, so if that's a sector of the technology industry that doesn't interest you, other fields may appeal more. A moderate amount of experience is a prerequisite for sitting the exam, so it's wise to gain whatever preliminary experience you can before deciding if a career as an AWS solution architect suits you.

2. Gain experience using AWS

The AWS certification program is an effective option for those with one or more years of practical experience designing systems on AWS that are scalable, fault-tolerant, and cost-efficient. This experience means that those sitting on the exam have the fundamental understanding necessary for achieving the certification. Other recommended accomplishments prior to sitting the exam include:

  • experience deploying, operating and managing workloads in the AWS system

  • implementing necessary compliance and security requirements

  • knowledge of the AWS framework and global infrastructure

  • one year of practical experience with AWS technology

  • experience using networking storage, databases, and deployment and management services

  • experience with the AWS Management Console and Comman Line Interface

Related: Top Skills for Software Developer

3. Sit the exam

Once you've gained the recommended level of experience, it's time to sit the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam to gain your certification. The exam comprises two main formats of questions. The first is multiple choice, and the second is multiple responses. Those pursuing the certificate through the examination process receive information on the process and the content outline in their exam guide.

4. Gain your certification and update your resume

Once you've passed the exam, you can use your newly gained qualification to pursue jobs as an AWS solution architect. You can enter this certification on your resume under any certification, qualification, or credential headings. It may also be relevant to include mention of holding this certification in a cover letter you include with your resume. Doing so provides this vital piece of information to prospective employers as they first consider your application for employment.

Necessary skills for AWS solution architects

For those working as AWS solution architects, there are a few essential skills that employers seek, and that allow architects to succeed in their roles. Some of these are hard skills related to the tasks of the job, whereas others are soft skills that are often transferrable across related fields. When writing your resume, including some of these skills can communicate what would make you a candidate worth considering. Here's a list of the essential skills that AWS solution architects possess:

  • assimilation: being able to assimilate information

  • active listening: being able to fully understand the requirements of a business

  • database skills: managing and maintaining up-to-date databases

  • basic programming: using common and versatile programming tools

  • communication skills: being clear in communicating with all levels of a company

  • decision-making skills: being able to make educated decisions on tools and processes to use

  • Continuous deployment: knowledge with the process of continuous deployment

  • continuous integration: knowledge of continuous integration processes

  • deep cloud architecture: experience and understanding of this system

  • cybersecurity: proficiency with principles and practices

  • Software development lifecycle: having an in-depth knowledge of this architectural factor

Related: Computer Literacy in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Salary and job outlook for AWS solution architects

Because the scope and implementation of cloud-based technology is steadily increasing, there is no shortage of roles for AWS solution architects. Similarly, the future job outlook for AWS solution architects is good throughout most of Canada. Not only are more businesses increasing their reliance on computing systems, but also on the integration of their systems with cloud services. This is a key factor making solution architects highly valuable in the workforce for the foreseeable future.

The national average salary for AWS solution architects is $114,117 per year. From established positions, architects can become team leads and gain management experience to earn promotions. If you wish to advance your career, further education and training can prepare you for more senior positions.

Related: 13 Jobs You Can Get With a Computer Science Degree

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Common interview questions and answers for AWS solution architects

Here are three sample interview questions and example answers to help you prepare to apply for an AWS solution architect role:

1. What are some security best practices for integrating Amazon EC2?

This type of question provides the interviewer with insight into how you may ensure that company networks and cloud-based processes remain securely encrypted and impermeable to security risks. When answering, highlight your problem-solving and attention to detail by providing examples of how you may perform this process and avoid security risks through the AWS infrastructure.

Example: "Many best practices that I use as a guideline include controlling and limiting access to AWS resources through identity and access management protocols. I achieve this by regularly analyzing the protocols set in my security groups and open permissions only based on these requirements. Another best practice is to disable password-based login capability to ensure that, even if a password were to be compromised, access to the server based on just passwords is futile."

2. In your opinion, what are the advantages of auto-scaling?

Interviewers may want to know how you can apply automated processes that improve business functions and money and save time. Here, it's best to discuss the benefits of AWS auto-scaling features and how you use auto-scaling to achieve business goals and improve outcomes.

Example: “In my opinion, AWS auto-scaling has several advantages for businesses. First, I've found that the ability to monitor applications and set up automatic adjustments for capacity within AWS offers a predictable way to measure performance. Second, this also results in lower costs, and it's a quick and efficient way to implement auto-scaling for many resources across a wide range of services.”

3. What types of instances are there?

Instances are the virtual environments that users can rent for hosting their applications, and so there are a variety of types of instances within AWS. Your answer can inform the interviewer of your understanding of instances and which types may be appropriate for various processes. You can use examples from any past projects to display your analytical skills and critical thinking ability regarding complex projects.

Example:General-purpose instances are excellent for achieving a balance between networking, memory and computing resources and work for applications that use resources in equal measure. Compute-optimized instances are best suited for compute applications that require high-performance processors, such as batch workloads, media transcoding and gaming servers. Memory-optimized instances provide fast performance for applications that process larger sets of data in the memory. Storage-optimized instances provide high, sequential write and read access to huge sets of data within local storage, and accelerated computing instances use co-processors to perform various functions, like graphics and number processing and calculations.”

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organization‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌, ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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