By Danny Aspinall
Is the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification hard? Is it worth it? And what do you need to know so that you can smash the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam the first time of asking?
Find out in this post.
Working towards your first certification, next certification, or recertification is always a good idea. To increase your value to both your employer and the wider job market, the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification should be desired by any professional in or out of work in 2023.
When we surveyed AWS professions in our Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition, 22% of respondents reported currently holding the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate, and one-fifth (19%) reported it as most likely to increase your pay.
But that’s not to say earning it is a breeze—quite the opposite! Like all certifications, obtaining the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate requires time, effort, and dedication.
And that’s where we come in.
This post is an all-encompassing guide to the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification, covering all the important fundamental information and the study, preparation, and assessment tips you need to succeed.
The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is awarded to candidates who successfully pass the SOA-C02 exam.
The SOA-C02 exam validates a candidate’s ability to deploy, manage, and operate workloads on AWS, with candidates expected to know how to:
The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is intended for system administrators in cloud operations roles.
Typical responsibilities held by professionals in these roles include:
For this certification, it’s recommended that you have at least a year’s worth of practical, hands-on experience with deployment, management, networking, and security on AWS.
Alongside this practical experience, it will also pay to have a solid foundation of technical expertise. More specifically, candidates should have a confident understanding of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, security controls and compliance requirements, and AWS networking and security services.
That’s not to say you need to know all of this today–working towards certification is a great opportunity to build this expertise and upskill as you go. But of course, that sort of advanced general IT knowledge is required to ensure you’re not jumping straight into the deep end.
At a minimum, candidates should ideally have 1–2 years of experience as a systems administrator in an operations role, with experience monitoring, logging, and troubleshooting, a good knowledge of networking concepts, and familiarity with implementing architectural requirements.
The SOA-C02 exam can be taken either at an in-person testing center or as an online proctored exam, and is available to sit in the following languages:
In the current exam, you have 130 minutes to complete the 65-question exam. Each of these questions will be either:
The incorrect responses, labeled ‘distractors’, will be plausible answers relevant to the topic, so be sure to evaluate each carefully to avoid being caught out!
Of the 65 questions you’ll complete in the exam, only 50 are scored. The other 15 unscored questions are there to collect candidate performance data and inform future questions, but you won’t be informed of which ones these are.
Scored on a scale of 100-1000, you need a minimum score of 720 to pass the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam. Unanswered questions will be marked as incorrect but there’s no penalty for guessing, so ensure you give each question a go!
It costs $150 to take this exam, like all Associate-level certifications.
Those currently in work should consider asking their employer whether they offer support towards these costs. Almost half (44%) of the certified employees in our Careers and Hiring Guide reported having their certifications fully funded by their employer, with another quarter (27%) receiving partial funding.
Covering certification, salaries, benefits, career advice, and a whole lot more, the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide is the ultimate resource for anyone looking to build a rewarding career in AWS.
But what does the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam actually entail?
Since March 2023, the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam has not featured any exam labs. Previously, candidates were given a set of tasks to perform in the AWS Management Console or AWS CLI, but this section has been removed until further notice. This is only temporary, however, while AWS evaluates the exam labs and makes improvements to provide an optimal candidate experience.
The current exam covers six main areas, each of which is given different weighting towards your overall score:
You can expect to be quizzed on a range of tools and technologies across all six areas of the SOA-C02 exam, including but not limited to:
If the exam is sounding tough right now, don’t fret–you’re not the first professional to start having second thoughts!
In fact, our Careers and Hiring Guide found that as many as 43% of AWS professionals have started studying for certification but stopped before achieving it, with common reasons including procrastination, a fear of failing, and a lack of time and motivation.
To ensure your learning stays focused and efficient, it pays to know what’s not covered in the exam–this ensures you don’t take any detours during your research and revision, optimizing your use of time and preventing the scope of the exam from feeling too overwhelming.
AWS states that candidates taking the SOA-C02 exam are not expected to know how to:
Of course, it’s even more important to know what you will be faced with in the exam, and this is where the official AWS training resources come in handy.
Through AWS Skill Builder, AWS offers high-quality training material aimed at helping you to expand your knowledge, build your confidence, and assess your exam preparedness.
AWS training resources dedicated to the SOA-C02 exam include:
For wider research not specifically tailored to the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate, we’d also recommend checking out AWS’ extensive selection of official white papers and documentation.
There’s also a variety of courses and training materials available online from third parties, with high-quality options including:
Whether it’s boosting your salary, improving your job/contract prospects, or progressing your career development, earning certification is worth it—and keeping these end goals in mind can help to keep you motivated when the going gets tough.
The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification requires plenty of hard work and dedication, but by putting the time in today, you can propel your career forward tomorrow.
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