Marc Benioff, the founder, CEO and chairman of Salesforce once said: "If someone asks me what cloud computing is, I try not to get bogged down with definitions. I tell them that, simply put, cloud computing is a better way to run your business."
Why is cloud computing—the shared use of remote servers to store and manage data, media, apps and more—better? Because it's agile, accessible anywhere there's a data stream, and relatively inexpensive, characteristics that are alluring to startups and legacy companies alike. As Daryl Plummer, managing vice-president at Gartner points out, the cloud facilitates flexibility by allowing you to pay for apps "like they [were] a magazine subscription. When the service is no longer required, [you can] cancel that subscription with no equipment left unused in the corner."
Pretty much anyone can get in the cloud (via iCloud, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services, etc.), but bringing a company online and into the cloud requires some real savvy. That's where cloud engineers come in.
Could a career as a cloud engineer be right for you? If you have strong technical and analytical skills and enjoy using the latest technology to solve business problems, it may be. You'll also need to have strong organizational skills and be willing to learn constantly to keep up with the latest technological improvements.
Cloud engineers do the technical work associated with cloud computing to store and manage data. Cloud engineers may design, implement and maintain cloud systems.
A smaller company may have one cloud engineer who is responsible for all cloud-related work. A larger company may break the job down into several positions such as architect, systems engineer, software engineer, and security engineer.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a cloud engineer is $127,957. Glassdoor is a little less bullish, projecting an annual salary of $95,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not disaggregate for cloud engineers, it does project a median annual wage for computer network architects at $109,020. For all computer-related jobs, the median yearly pay is $86,320, according to the BLS.
Of course, salaries for cloud engineers are dependent on many different factors, including level of education, years of experience, location, and the nature of the employer's business.
At the time of this writing, the highest annual salary on ZipRecruiter for a cloud engineer was $178,500, and the lowest was $68,500. The majority of salaries fell between $107,500 and $147,500.
There aren't many degree programs designed specifically for cloud computing, because the technology is so new. Many cloud engineers, however, have bachelor's and master's degrees in fields such as computer engineering, computer science, and information systems and/or information technology. You can get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree, but more senior roles typically require either a master's degree or several years of experience. Many cloud engineers also supplement their degrees with cloud computing certifications.
You can expect a slight bump in salary if you begin your career with a master's degree instead of a bachelor's. According to PayScale, a cloud computing professional with a bachelor's in computer science earns $116,044 on average, while those with a master's earn an average of $124,723.
Most of the increase in earnings in the field comes from years of experience. According to PayScale, the average salary for a cloud engineer with one to four years of experience is $87,637. Someone with five to nine years of experience earns an average of $105,027, and 10 to 19 years of experience will get you $128,465. Cloud computing jobs haven't been around for long, but it's expected that salary will continue to rise for professionals in the field as they gain experience.
After spending some time as a cloud engineer, you may be able to advance to become a computer and information systems manager, a position for which the annual median pay is $142,530. After that, you may be able to advance to a higher management position within an IT department and, eventually to chief technology officer. If you decide to go more toward the business side, you could become a chief information officer and eventually a top-level executive.
According to Glassdoor, top companies offering cloud engineer jobs include IBM, Amazon, Verizon, Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture.
Many of the best opportunities for cloud engineers are centered around the nation's biggest cities. According to data from Gartner TalentNeuron, the top five metro areas for cloud computing jobs are:
Looking for a career in which you can use your technical skills and the latest technology to help businesses improve the way they operate? A career as a cloud engineer could be right for you. You'll get to build and maintain cloud systems and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.
If you want to help people find a better way to run their businesses and dig into the technical details so they don't have to, a career as a cloud engineer could be the right path for you.
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