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:
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:
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:
Cloud system administrators are primarily responsible for everything and anything related to the seamless delivery of all cloud services.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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. Neuvoo reports that the typical cloud systems administrator job pays $87,500 per year. According to the Economic Research Institute, however, the average cloud system administrator salary is actually closer to $95,000, and ZipRecruiter's figure is even higher ($97,373). PayScale, on the other hand, reports that the typical sysadmin working in cloud computing earns just $65,835 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. Earning one or more of the top-paying cloud certifications will also boost your earning potential in this role. But don't rush out and get a master's degree if money is your main motivation. According to Salary.com, a cloud administrator with five years of experience and a master's degree earns only about $1,000 more than one with the same level of experience and a bachelor's degree.
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:
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.
Questions or feedback? Email email@example.com