Understanding AWS Certification Salary-Wise: How Impressive a Paycheck Can You Expect? cover image

Let’s be real for a moment: we don’t all just jump at a chance to study for days on end and take extensive exams (ones that come with fees attached, nonetheless) if we know there’s nothing in it for us. It’s only natural – we want to be compensated adequately for the time and effort we put in, especially when it comes to gaining professional skills we’d barely ever have a chance to use if it wasn’t for our work.

Take AWS certifications, for example. Each of them takes weeks of studying plus an investment of $100–300, and you’re not exactly likely to be using the AWS console in your own free time, are you? Therefore, AWS certification salary is one of the key factors you need to consider as you plan on getting certified. In this guide, we’re going to review the average wages of AWS certification-holding professionals in 2021 and hopefully help you decide whether these jobs and their rewards fit your expectations.

Level One: the AWS Cloud Practitioner Salary

Starting with the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification seems like the obvious choice for most people – after all, it covers all the fundamental knowledge required to operate the AWS cloud and is therefore deemed the most universal in terms of application. Aside from developers, this certification appeals to managers, finance specialists, and just about anyone who works in a modern company that uses AWS on a daily basis. But is it the right choice for those who dream of a hefty AWS certification salary? Let’s see.

According to the Global Knowledge’s 2020 Top-Paying IT Certifications report, the AWS Cloud Practitioner salary is currently one of the top ten best-paid IT certifications in the United States, reaching up to $131,465 a year on average. Seems nice? It does – and yet there’s a catch. As we’ve already mentioned, this certification is pretty universal, and its holders might work in very different positions that are, naturally, compensated differently, too. You can’t exactly expect an accountant, a developer, and a team leader to get the same paycheck, right? However, they're all technically getting an AWS Cloud Practitioner salary.

Hence, we’re afraid knowing the exact statistics for this AWS certification salary won’t help you get any clearer of an idea. Getting certified will definitely be an advantage that can help you find a well-paying job or get a raise at your current one, but there’s just no exact amount of money you could expect to get.

The Highest AWS Certification Salary – Which Is It?

The AWS Cloud Practitioner salary is a bit tricky – thankfully, we can move to a bit more precise numbers as we move on to more specific certifications. Associate, Professional, and Specialty certifications are all related to certain positions and the exact skills they require, so the statistics are a lot more telling.

If you looked at the same Global Knowledge’s report once again, you’d see one more AWS certification salary on the list – that of an AWS Certified Solutions Architect. Based on the survey data, an average AWS Solutions Architect Associate salary was $149,446 in 2020, and $132,840 in 2019. And seeing the cloud architect salary on the top-earning lists is far from surprising: cloud computing is all the rage right now, and there aren’t nearly as many cloud solution architects as the industry requires.

The promise of a higher AWS Solutions Architect salary is a great way to both make your company more attractive to job-seeking IT specialists and encourage young professionals to choose the profession as their future career path and get certified.

The only other area that can compete with cloud computing in terms of relevance, specialist demand, and certification value in 2021 is web security. While AWS does offer one fitting certification, it’s a bit too early to speak about the AWS certification salary in this case. The AWS Security Specialty exam was only launched in the spring of 2018, so there’s no reliable data about the careers of those who passed it just yet.

What About Developers and DevOps Engineers?

It shouldn't come as a surprise that a lot of people who are looking into AWS certification salary information are developers and programmers. After all, the AWS Cloud is a pretty technical system when you go deeper into it – and a lot of those who are into this highly technical stuff tend to be fascinated by coding and making machines do as they please from a relatively young age. And it’s not like AWS has nothing to offer to them: you can become a certified developer or an AWS DevOps engineer. Salary-wise, both of these options are pretty well-compensated – moreover, they’re highly fulfilling and very much in touch with the latest innovations.

According to statistics, an average AWS Developer salary in the US is $130,272 (very similar, by the way, to the AWS certified SysOps administrator salary that averages $130,610). Impressive, huh? Just remember that for this sum, you’re expected to not only know the selection of AWS services like the back of your hand, but also to have a strong understanding of security, optimization, and using SDKs. As for the AWS DevOps engineer salary of $137,724, you’d also have to master automation tools and their maintenance, continuous delivery systems and methodologies.

Does Money Make the World Go Round?

Upon finishing this guide, you might feel tempted to go straight for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate salary – and yet, you better think twice. Sure, a cloud architect salary is great, but you need to make sure this is the career path you want to take: if you only choose it based on the revenue, you won’t enjoy the process, which can lead to a loss of motivation in time, which then translates to poorer performance… and lower pay.

The truth is, whether you're a cloud architect or a freelance consultant, every AWS certification salary is significantly higher than the nation’s average. Choose a job according to your personal and professional interests and don’t rely too much on the statistics: all they reflect is the average, which is not likely to be your exact salary anyway. A shockingly bad AWS architect will get a shockingly bad AWS architect salary – and that's to be expected.

An enthusiastic and passionate employee can always earn more by simply doing a better job. We'd recommend you to first look into AWS training options (e.g., comprehensive online AWS training courses in the BitDegree Academy), review the topics and subjects each sertification entails, and make the choice according to your own interests and passions!

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Eidmantė Kalašinskaitė