As the demand for cloud computing continues to increase, cloud engineers will help organizations meet this demand. According to LinkedIn, cloud and distributed computing are the most in-demand skills for job seekers in 2018.
Interested in this fast-growing career path? Read on to find out how you can become a cloud engineer.
Cloud engineers are responsible for performing the technical duties associated with cloud computing. This can include everything from designing cloud software and systems to implementing and maintaining them.
The role of "cloud engineer" actually encompasses several different specialties, including cloud architect, cloud software engineer and cloud systems engineer. Although smaller organizations may assign all of these duties to a single "cloud engineer," larger ones are more likely to break the role up into multiple positions assigned to different employees, in order to benefit from each person's specialized expertise.
As a cloud engineer, it's nearly essential that you have experience with at least one of the three major public cloud providers: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Knowledge of one platform will help you learn the others more quickly if you choose to branch out later on, but AWS is usually the preferred option. According to Stack Overflow's 2017 survey, 28 percent of developers use AWS, while only 11 percent use Azure.
The best cloud engineers have talents that span a number of domains: IT architecture, software development and operations. Depending on your specialty, you may need to be familiar with concepts such as containers, virtualization and automation software. If you're involved in operations, you may also need to know strategies for high availability, scalability and disaster recovery.
Since companies are trending toward delivering more and more services in the cloud, those who are adept at managing multi-cloud environments -- including public, private and hybrid clouds from a variety of vendors -- will be best positioned in the evolving cloud market.
Finally, cloud engineers should possess all of the traditional soft skills for success in a business environment, such as leadership skills and strategic planning. Since cloud computing offers the potential to radically transform business processes, you should have a particular knack for innovation and creativity. Cloud engineers who want to work remotely should be highly organized, self-motivated, and good communicators with both technical and non-technical roles.
Because cloud computing is such a new domain, there are very few degree programs specifically designed for cloud engineers. However, many cloud engineers have a bachelor's or master's degree in related fields such as computer science, computer engineering, information systems & technology, and informatics. For more senior roles, you'll likely need either a master's degree or additional years of experience to compensate.
Degree programs teach cloud engineers many of the valuable skills that they need to successfully do their jobs. For example, many computer science programs offer coursework in networking, security, software development and databases, which are foundational topics for any cloud engineer. Computer science and IT degree programs also familiarize students with modern programming languages such as Java, Ruby and Python, which are frequently used to build systems and software in the cloud.
Many cloud engineers also choose to supplement their formal education with one or more professional certifications. Cloud vendors such as Amazon and Microsoft have their own programs offering training and credentials, helping you advertise your knowledge and skills to potential employers.
Although cloud engineers can work anywhere that has a need for their services, they tend to cluster around the country's major tech hubs: cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston. According to Forbes, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area in Washington state has the largest number of cloud computing jobs.
Cloud engineers typically work at organizations that are either tech companies or that have a substantial IT and cloud infrastructure, which means that they're likely large, established enterprises. Some of the biggest employers for cloud computing jobs include the tech firms Amazon and VMware.
Cloud engineers perform a vital service for their employers, and they're compensated well in return. According to PayScale, the average cloud engineer salary is nearly $87,000, with a range between $59K and $124K.
As is usually the case, the salaries of cloud engineers who work in major cities tend to be higher. Glassdoor reports that cloud engineers in San Francisco earn an average salary of $95,000, while those in Boston earn on average $90,000.
These numbers are typically higher for cloud engineers with more experience or education, or who work at larger companies. For example, according to PayScale, the average employee working in cloud computing with a master's degree has an annual salary roughly $10,000 higher than employees with only a bachelor's.
People come to the position of cloud engineer through many different routes. Some are software developers and software architects who come to specialize in cloud technologies; others are database administrators and system administrators that learn to adapt their skill sets for cloud storage and operations.
Whatever your background and your desired specialty as a cloud engineer, there are educational programs that can help you achieve your career goals. Ready to reach for the sky by becoming a cloud engineer?