Computer Science

What Do Cloud System Administrator Jobs Look Like?

What Do Cloud System Administrator Jobs Look Like?
Over time, a cloud system administrator might aim for roles like Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer. Image from Death to the Stock Photo
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry February 28, 2020

Jobs for sysadmins abound, but companies are increasingly looking for a new breed of system administrators qualified to handle IT in the cloud.

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System administrators keep corporate IT up and running. In the past, that meant managing internal hardware and software stacks, but recently these are being replaced with heavily virtualized environments running in the cloud. Cloud systems can do everything in-house IT architecture can do. They can usually do it more efficiently for less money.

Companies that move everything to the cloud still need sysadmins. Cloud administrators, however, don’t have to look after servers or desktop hardware or deal with operating systems and local networks. Instead, cloud system administrator jobs involve:

  • Setting up cloud systems
  • Overseeing cloud-based infrastructure, platforms, and software
  • Monitoring the modification of and use of cloud resources

Everything a cloud admin does—from choosing a cloud provider to setting deployment parameters—is driven by the technical requirements of their organization.

Cloud system administrators (sometimes called cloud systems specialists) are a relatively new addition to the IT playbill. Even so, there are plenty of cloud system administrator job openings out there. Chances are there will be a lot more of them soon as companies transition away from in-house infrastructure.

In this article about cloud system administrator jobs, we’ll cover:

  • What does a cloud systems administrator do?
  • What is the difference between a cloud system administrator and server administrator?
  • Are there different kinds of cloud system administrator jobs?
  • Where can you find cloud system administrator jobs?
  • What qualifications will I need to get cloud system administrator jobs?
  • How much do cloud systems administrator jobs pay per year?
  • Where can cloud system administrator jobs lead?

What does a cloud systems administrator do?

Cloud admins have plenty to do even though they’re not interacting with a company’s IT infrastructure IRL. “Even if [a company] is handling their data and applications in the cloud, they still need someone to do the connecting and routing and networking,” a senior systems administrator in the telecom industry who asked not to be named told Computerworld. Professionals working in cloud system administrator jobs develop, maintain, and troubleshoot networks of cloud platforms and computing resources. It sounds simple, but it’s a big job with a lot of moving parts. A cloud admin’s duties typically include:

  • Choosing cloud providers and cloud technologies
  • Configuring and supporting cloud systems
  • Setting up private clouds
  • Monitoring patches, permissions, and service deployments
  • Creating policies for cloud computing systems
  • Monitoring network performance and cloud resources
  • Establishing connections among cloud networks
  • Integrating cloud systems into current environments
  • Managing firewalls and overseeing network security
  • Managing requests for cloud services modifications
  • Analyzing cloud deployment data
  • Evaluating and implementing new technologies
  • Setting cloud system security strategies, policies, and procedures
  • Researching cloud providers, platforms, software, and other cloud solutions
  • Documenting systems infrastructure
  • Resolving operational and security issues

Cloud system administrators are primarily responsible for everything and anything related to the seamless delivery of all cloud services.


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What is the difference between a cloud system administrator and server administrator?

Cloud administrators have quite a bit in common with both system administrators and server administrators. Systems administrators typically deal with in-office IT architecture. Server admins build, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain on-location or offsite servers and may also handle storage management.

When the computer systems and servers move into the cloud, cloud system administrators can take on the work of both sysadmins and server admins—including storage administration. Chances are that more and more in-house system and server administrators will make the jump to cloud system administrator jobs as companies move their computing to the cloud.

Are there different kinds of cloud system administrator jobs?

Yes and no. We can talk about cloud system administrator jobs in general terms, but employers are free to set their own standards when it comes to what cloud admins are responsible for. Some cloud system administrator job listings read more like jobs for cloud engineers, storage admins or even database administrators. The part a cloud system administrator plays in an organization is largely driven by that organization’s cloud strategy.

For example, if a company utilizes cloud services primarily for archival purposes or disaster recovery, then the cloud admin will be responsible for data migration, data synchronization, data transfers, and storage management. They may work closely with the system administrator or storage admin to coordinate backups.

When organizations use the cloud as primary storage, the cloud system administrator has to deal with capacity planning, cost management, contract management, storage use optimization, and security. They may also have to set up private clouds and administrative task automation.

Where can you find cloud system administrator jobs?

Any and all businesses that use technology need a sysadmin or network administration expert, and if they migrate to the cloud, they’re going to need a cloud administrator. There are cloud system administrator jobs in all kinds of businesses, not just tech companies. Healthcare companies, media companies, banks, large retailers, and communications companies all employ cloud system administrators. You’ll find more cloud system administrator jobs in major tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle and in metro areas like New York City and Boston, but there are jobs for cloud system administrators anywhere enterprise-level companies are headquartered.

What qualifications will I need to get cloud system administrator jobs?

There is no single educational path to guarantee you a cloud system administrator job, because most cloud admins pick up the specialized cloud knowledge they need outside the classroom. There is only one school—Western Governors University—that offers a BS in Cloud and Systems Administration. Purdue University (Main Campus) has a similar program that confers a BS in Cloud Computing and Solutions.

That said, you’ll probably never see an employer requiring that applicants have a “Cloud and Systems Administration” degree. Most ask that applicants have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, management information systems, information technology, or a related discipline plus three or more years of sysadmin and/or cloud computing experience. Some also require relevant certifications like the:

To get cloud system administrator jobs, you’ll also need:

  • BASH, Perl, PowerShell, Python, and Ruby chops
  • Server management experience
  • Knowledge of application-level security methods
  • Experience with various virtualization technologies
  • Experience with private, public, and hybrid cloud-based environments
  • Experience with Avamar, Dell EqualLogic, EMC VNX, Extreme IO, Veeam, and VMAX
  • Experience with automation technologies like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet
  • Experience using Code Green, Proofpoint, Active Directory, Exchange, Office 365, Azure, AWS, and GCP

How much do cloud systems administrator jobs pay per year?

It can be hard to nail down just how much cloud systems administrator jobs pay because salaries are driven by not only education and experience but also by location and market pressures. reports that the typical cloud systems administrator job pays $109,254 per year. According to the Economic Research Institute, however, the average cloud system administrator salary is actually closer to $103,000, and ZipRecruiter’s figure is even higher ($108,476). PayScale, on the other hand, reports that the typical sysadmin working in cloud computing earns just $85,254 per year.

If you want to land a cloud systems administrator job with a ZipRecruiter-level salary, your best bet is to apply at tech companies headquartered in major cities, especially given recent RTO (return to office) mandates for remote workers. Earning one or more of the top-paying cloud certifications will also boost your earning potential in this role.

Where can cloud system administrator jobs lead?

Once a cloud system administrator, always a cloud system administrator? Hardly. A cloud systems administrator job can lead to a senior cloud systems administrator position and more lucrative positions like:

  • Cloud engineer, which can pay around $124,983 and is considered by many to be the next step in a cloud computing career. Professionals in cloud engineer jobs handle the planning and design of cloud architectures.
  • Automation and integration engineer, which can be a six figure career when you have the right credentials and experience. These professionals are increasingly in demand as employers realize how cloud-based enterprise automation can reduce IT costs.
  • Data engineer, which typically pays about $125,000. In this job, you’ll build cloud-based systems that prepare and transform data for data scientists.

From there, a former cloud system administrator might aim for roles like Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer.

All of these career jumps will require learning new skills and getting comfortable with new tools. Then again, so will staying in a cloud system administrator job. Sysadmin jobs evolve alongside evolving computer technologies, and cloud administrators will have to adapt their skill sets as time marches on just like all IT professionals, whether they stay in the role or transition to other tech jobs.

(Updated on January 9, 2024)

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