How to become AWS Certified Solutions Architect (SAA-C02) - Training, Cost, Exam Prep, Format, and More

  • AWS
  • Solutions Architect
  • Cloud
  • Published by: ANDRÉ HAMMER on May 12, 2022

The main factor behind this increased demand for Cloud skills is that businesses are constantly looking for ways to save money and improve their digital capabilities. And one of the ways to do that is to choose public or private cloud services.

Cloud skills have been in demand for many years now and cloud technology roles have grown over 40% since last year. And with LinkedIn listing cloud computing as one of the most desired skills, the career prospects for cloud engineers have never looked brighter. Hiring managers claim that cloud certifications are valued even above university degrees and when it comes to the hire-worthiness of tech professionals.

Over 90% of businesses today use cloud-based technologies and services. These services have various economic advantages such as lower hardware and software costs, zero maintenance, unlimited scalability, and above all - efficiency. The leading supplier of these types of solutions is Amazon Web Services (AWS), as it owns the largest chunk of the public cloud computing space. This makes the Amazon Web Series Certified Solutions Architect - Associate one of the most sought-after certifications by companies running their cloud infrastructure on AWS. Solution Architects ensure that the AWS Infrastructure and plan meet all the client's technical needs and budget constraints. They construct detailed and rationally sound selection and execution plans for AWS projects. Having this certification under your belt can make your resume shine too bright to ignore by potential employers.

The AWS Certified SAA-C02 exam is conducted especially for those of you who have designed secure and robust cloud architecture, using AWS solutions. The exam also validates your abilities to identify and communicate technical service requirements for a solution that involves AWS technology. Whether you are a professional cloud engineer or a trade consultant, having this on your resume will be more than appreciated, as it can make your profile far more valuable for any organization running its business on the cloud.

Securing this well-sought after certification can be challenging even for the most seasoned cloud professionals. Amazon keeps enhancing its technology rapidly to stay ahead of the demands of the market. Hence, they make sure to ask questions related to their latest service offerings in the examination; which means to pass it - you need access to the latest curriculum and have a definitive plan to clear the exam.

In this article, Readynez will focus on how you can take your skills to the next level through the new AWS Associate exam and excel in your cloud journey.


Eligibility Criteria for the AWS examination

To have a chance at this certification, you’re expected to fulfill some pre-conditions for taking the exam, which include:

  • In-depth knowledge of at least one programming language of a similar level
  • Have a formal training or sound knowledge of Architecting on AWS
  • At least 1 year of hands-on experience in designing secure, efficient, and scalable systems by using AWS services.

Apart from these institutionalized prerequisites by the AWS, every aspiring AWS certified solutions architect should have the following skills:

  • A basic understanding of programming or scripting languages such as Java, Python, or C#. The cloud architect with a coding background can have an edge over others.
  • A solid base of Data storage fundamentals. Every cloud architect must have clarity on how and when to use databases to securely store company data.
  • Intelligent selection of AWS Service. A cloud architect should be able to use the most relevant Cloud Networking services for their organization to create a secure and scalable cloud-based solution.
  • Creating scalable and cost-effective Cloud-specific patterns and technologies
  • Solid Communication. A cloud architect should be able to explain their vision to software developers, managers, and fellow team members via emails, presentations, and phone calls.
  • Working knowledge of at least one operating system among Linux, Windows, Solaris, Ubuntu, or Unix.

We suggest you take an inventory of your skill-set before you begin preparing for the AWS cloud practitioner exam. This will enable you to make better use of this certification to advance further in your career.


All about the Old vs. New AWS Exam format

Let’s address this because we get many questions from delegates who are confused about the old vs. new exam format. In June 2020, the former AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate - C01 exam was replaced by a newer version of the same AWS exam with the code SAA - C02. This was done to align the course structure with the latest AWS services. In the newer version of the exam, the language of the questions has been improved to decrease the ambiguity. This is good news for the new aspirants who may benefit by saving time during the preparation.

  1. Registration Fee: The registration fee for the exam is USD 150. If this sounds too costly, just know that - an AWS certified Solution Architect is also one of the most highly-paid professionals with annual pay packages sitting anywhere between $87,000 to $175,000.
  2. Exam Pattern: Like before, the number of questions displayed in the new version of this exam is still 65 with an unchanged passing score of 720 out of 1000 points. The 65 questions are to be answered within a 130-minute time limit. Most questions in the exam look like a 2-3 line description of a scenario followed by the main body of the question to be answered.
  3. Domains: The number of domains in the SAA- C02 version of the exam is now 4 with a change in the weightage given to each domain in the exam.


AWS Exam Pattern

The response formats in the SAA-C02 exam are identical to the older version. It’s an objective, multiple-choice question based exam, with either one correct response from three options, or two or more. The Distractors (or incorrect answers) generally look reasonable and match the scenarios in the question.


Here’s a sample question:

An application running on EC2 instances processes sensitive information stored on Amazon S3. The information is accessed over the Internet. The security team is concerned that the Internet connectivity to Amazon S3 is a security risk.

Which solution will resolve the security concern?

A. Access the data through an Internet Gateway.

B. Access the data through a VPN connection.

C. Access the data through a NAT Gateway.

D. Access the data through a VPC endpoint for Amazon S3

The unanswered questions are scored as incorrect but there is no penalty for guessing wrong. Out of 65, only 50 questions will affect your score. The remaining 15 unscored questions do not affect your score at all and are used to evaluate these questions for future use if needed. You cannot identify these unscored questions in the exam. Your final score shows your overall performance in the exam and whether or not you passed.


AWS Certification Exam Weightage by Domain

The AWS exam is divided into various domains from which questions are asked. Each domain has a different weightage in the exam. You do not need to achieve a passing score in each section. You need to pass only the overall exam.

Let’s have a look at how the exam weightage has changed and which domains in the new exam are worth burning the midnight oil for:


(Certification Domains in SAA-C01)

% Weightage

in the exam


(Certification Domains in SAA-C02)

% Weightage

in the exam

Domain 1:

Design Resilient Architectures


Domain 1:

Design Resilient Architectures


Domain 2:

Design Performant Architectures


Domain 2:

Design High-Performing Architectures


Domain 3:

Specify Secure Applications and Architectures


Domain 3:

Design Secure Applications and Architectures



Domain 4:

Design Cost Optimized Architectures


Domain 4:

Design Cost Optimized Architectures




Domain 5:

DEsign Operationally Excellent Architecture


Domain 5: NONE






Re-taking the AWS Certification - What if you fail your AWS exam

If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you will be eligible to retake the exam after 14 days, on payment of the full registration fee for every attempt. There is no limit on the number of attempts. If you already have the SAA-C01 certification and you have passed the old exam anytime in the last 2 years, you will be eligible to retake the new exam version.

Having said that, if you want to minimize your chances of failure, the best way might be to get professional help in the form of preparatory classes from Readynez that train cloud professionals like yourself, to clear the exam with ease and earn SAA-C01 certification. With our expert instructor-led training program, you can gain comprehensive knowledge about leveraging AWS Managed Services to enable better flexibility and resiliency in the infrastructure you build or manage.


How to Prepare for the AWS Exam?

The AWS Certified SAA exam is no cakewalk. Since it is a highly scenario-based exam, you cannot expect to nail it by simply purchasing a bunch of practice tests and some basic study material. AWS prepares their question paper in such a well-thought-out manner that you cannot see yourself solving it without legitimate hands-on experience and a true understanding of their latest service offerings.

Along with a full-time job and all of your other personal commitments, you are advised to invest at least 40-50 hours to study for this exam. These hours might be spread across six to eight weeks. But if you are new to AWS and have a full-time job parallelly, we suggest you spare about three to four months to prepare.

If you’re planning to take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate C02 exam in the near future, Readynez is here to help you. We have compiled top tips to understand the Exam Format and note the areas of Importance during your studies for it.

  • Develop a thorough understanding of the topics included in the SAA-C02 version of the exam.
  • Although training is not mandatory for this certification, it is highly recommended to explore enrolling yourself in one to learn about AWS’s fresh updates and get that edge in the exam. There are many obvious advantages of a training program, such as the one by Readynez. Some of these are:
    • Instructor-led interactions
    • Exam-oriented guidance from AWS experts across the globe
    • Accredited AWS Solutions Architect course material with the latest updates
    • Practical experience with the help of AWS lab sessions
    • Training-associated Mock tests
    • Industry-recognized Training certificates provided by your provider will add value to your resume even if you do not end up clearing the main exam after the training.
    • Choose to join the instructor and their classmates in real-time in a virtual or classroom environment. You’ll have access to all the study material online, which means you can get AWS certified at your own pace.
  • Read White Papers and Case studies given by AWS itself. These are a must-do because they are presumably the most in-depth and worthwhile content you will find anywhere on the internet.
  • Read AWS documentation for the latest updates, given that the AWS is still at an evolutionary stage and there are a hundred updates to catch up to, from the exam point of view.
  • If you are not actively working in AWS as part of your job, then you must open a free AWS account and engage in hands-on lab exercises for practical experience.
  • There are plenty of free resources available online, offered by Amazon itself. Since books quickly get outdated for the AWS exam because of the fast-changing nature of the technology involved, it is futile to rely on any single prep book.
  • Repetition builds perfection. So, do as many mock tests as you can lay your hands on. They are the key to success in this exam which is designed to test your application skills.

SAA-C01 certification will motivate you to absorb the latest cloud advancements which are evolutionary. Technology is ever-evolving, and so should be your skill-set. Wishing you the best of luck on your cloud journey. For any more questions or enquiries, please feel free to connect to our team at Readynez and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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