AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (SOA-C02) exam overview

Jeff Peters
June 4, 2024 by
Jeff Peters

AWS provides a variety of certifications suitable for careers in cloud computing. The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SAP-C02) certification is for those who want to deploy and manage services within the AWS environment, optimize them for performance and efficiency, and keep them secure.

In the cloud computing and cybersecurity landscape, the AWS SysOps certification validates your understanding of how to implement security controls and continuously monitor an AWS environment for threats. This can help differentiate you as a qualified cloud security candidate.

Get certified with an Exam Pass Guarantee

Get certified with an Exam Pass Guarantee

Looking to get certified? Many of our boot camps are backed by an Exam Pass Guarantee, ensuring you leave with the certification you want.

Role of AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

Cloud computing has become increasingly important for organizations migrating systems to and establishing new infrastructure in the cloud. As companies seek to boost agility and scalability with the cloud, it becomes increasingly important to have cloud ops personnel who know how to keep their operations secure and efficient. Without a SysOps professional, organizations may end up overspending on AWS services or exposing workloads and sensitive data to cyber threats.

The SysOps certification aligns well with cybersecurity best practices because it involves implementing both AWS security controls and compliance requirements. These are essential for cybersecurity professionals who need to ensure companies protect data and manage it in a way that meets compliance requirements.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate exam overview

The AWS Solution Architect Associate exam covers deploying, managing and operating workloads in the AWS ecosystem. This makes it a good certification for system admins for organizations that have at least some of their digital operations in AWS.

The exam has recently changed and no longer includes exam labs — although Amazon says this is only temporary. In its most recent iteration, the test consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions, and you have 130 minutes to answer them.

To pass the exam, you need to score at least 720 points, and your score is based on a scaled model. This means there's no definitive number of questions you must answer correctly to pass because each question has its own weight.

Detailed exam content outline

Domain 1: Monitoring, logging and remediation

Monitoring, logging and remediation involve using metrics and alert systems to monitor cloud activity. These features can also trigger notifications that initiate the remediation process if something goes wrong.

The task statements associated with this domain include:

  • Task statement 1.1: Implement metrics, alarms and filters using AWS monitoring and logging services.
  • Task statement 1.2: Remediate issues based on monitoring and availability metrics.

Domain 2: Reliability and business continuity

The reliability and business continuity domain assesses your ability to ensure an organization's AWS environment can adapt to changing demands, remains available to users and systems, and is backed up and ready to restore if there's a failure. This is crucial for organizations that depend on the availability of their services because they run business-critical web apps or systems.

This domain covers the following task statements:

  • Task statement 2.1: Implement scalability and elasticity.
  • Task statement 2.2: Implement high availability and resilient environments.
  • Task statement 2.3: Implement backup and restore strategies.

Get certified with our Exam Pass Guarantee

Get certified with our Exam Pass Guarantee

Many of our boot camps come with an Exam Pass Guarantee: if you fail on your first attempt, we'll invite you to re-sit the course for free and cover the cost of your second exam.

Domain 3: Deployment, provisioning and automation

This domain demonstrates your ability to use AWS tools to provision and support cloud resources and use automation to streamline systems and improve reliability. This knowledge is important because it ensures that each cloud system is deployed in a way that aligns with its operational goals. In addition, expertise in this area enables you to save time when implementing patches, deploying processes and scheduling tasks.

The domain specifically addresses:

  • Task statement 3.1: Provision and maintain cloud resources.
  • Task statement 3.2: Automate manual or repeatable processes.

Domain 4: Security and compliance

This domain intersects directly with the job of a cybersecurity expert because it requires you to demonstrate knowledge regarding managing security and compliance and protecting data. These are pivotal skills because they support service availability and safeguard sensitive data and infrastructures.

This domain involves:

  • Task statement 4.1: Implement and manage security and compliance policies.
  • Task statement 4.2: Implement data and infrastructure protection strategies.

Domain 5: Networking and content delivery

Networking and content delivery is all about establishing networks that enable uninterrupted, efficient services in AWS. In this domain, you show you understand how to use various AWS tools to design and troubleshoot networks so AWS services can exchange information. This is foundational to the job of a SysOps professional because it involves setting up the infrastructure needed to manage the data that keeps a business moving.

Its task statements include:

  • Task statement 5.1: Implement networking features and connectivity.
  • Task statement 5.2: Configure domains, DNS services and content delivery.
  • Task statement 5.3: Troubleshoot network connectivity issues.

Domain 6: Cost and performance optimization

The cost and performance optimization domain focuses on identifying ways to use AWS features efficiently to optimize performance and avoid overspending on services. If you excel in this area, you can help an organization get the most from the AWS environment and prevent it from going over budget.

Here are the task statements this domain includes:

  • Task statement 6.1: Implement cost optimization strategies.
  • Task statement 6.2: Implement performance optimization strategies.

Preparing for the exam: Tips and best practices

To boost your chances of success on the first shot, use a self-study approach or team up with an official training partner, such as Infosec. When you go the self-study route, you source all of your training materials yourself and set up your own schedule.

Using an official training partner gives you access to AWS training boot camps and other guided programs that walk you through your prep. Many prefer this approach because it gives you structure and provides expert trainers and high-quality prep materials.

Whether you use self-study, partner with a professional prep company, or a combination of both, you want to incorporate hands-on labs as you prepare. Although labs are not on the current version of the exam, it's important you know how to apply the domain knowledge you learn to succeed on the job.

Practice exams are also important because they expose you to the types of questions you'll be facing and help you practice your time management skills.

Career pathways and opportunities

The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator exam can play a foundational role in the success of IT and cybersecurity professionals because it:

  • Certifies the skills needed to use AWS's security tools to keep workloads, data and infrastructure safe from attackers.
  • Ensures you understand how to establish and manage security protocols, which serve as the backbone of a consistent, dependable security solution

In addition, this certification positions you to be a valuable resource as cloud operations and security become increasingly important. The cloud gives organizations unprecedented flexibility and scalability, so being able to administer operations in an AWS environment has never been more crucial.

As a result, multiple career paths open up to certified individuals, including:

  • Cloud consultant. In this role, you advise your clients about how to adopt cloud services or migrate existing systems to the cloud.
  • Technical architect. A technical architect guides an organization through figuring out which cloud services it needs and how to manage its usage efficiently.
  • Cloud solutions architect. As a cloud solutions architect, you design systems according to a business's goals and collaborate with others to better understand what the organization needs.

By holding an AWS SysOps certification, you can set yourself up for increased salary and job opportunities because you can prove that you understand how to guide a company to optimize its cloud performance. You also demonstrate that you know how to keep their cloud-based assets and systems secure. Many organizations offer handsome salaries for these skills. (Read our AWS SysOps salary article for more information.)

Get certified with our Exam Pass Guarantee

Get certified with our Exam Pass Guarantee

Many of our boot camps come with an Exam Pass Guarantee: if you fail on your first attempt, we'll invite you to re-sit the course for free and cover the cost of your second exam.

Common certification questions

What are the prerequisites for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate exam?

While there aren't any official prerequisites, a candidate is expected to have one to two years of experience working with cloud systems.

How does the SysOps certification compare to other AWS certifications regarding difficulty and relevance?

As an Associate-level certification, the SysOps cert may feel less difficult for some candidates than other exams because it involves more basic knowledge. However, it's relevant to many roles because it covers various facets of the AWS system.

What are the best practices for maintaining your certification and keeping skills up to date?

To keep your certification and skills up to date, you can pass the latest version of the Associate-level exam every three years or the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional exam.

Where can I learn more about AWS training?

To learn more, watch our AWS SysOps webinar or visit our AWS boot camp page, which provides information about the training and pricing.

Jeff Peters
Jeff Peters

Jeff Peters is a communications professional with more than a decade of experience creating cybersecurity-related content. As the Director of Content and Brand Marketing at Infosec, he oversees the Infosec Resources website, the Cyber Work Podcast and Cyber Work Hacks series, and a variety of other content aimed at answering security awareness and technical cybersecurity training questions. His focus is on developing materials to help cybersecurity practitioners and leaders improve their skills, level up their careers and build stronger teams.