With summer winding down and people heading back to school to either further their careers or change their careers, I wanted to highlight some potential opportunities if you’ve been thinking about a career in cloud computing, as well as how to best prepare for them.

The global cloud computing industry is valued at $266 billion and is expected to grow by 14.9% each year through 2027. The cloud offers both breadth and depth of opportunities, depending on your skill sets and interests, and will continue to be a growing tech field for the foreseeable future.

The following are just a few of the in-demand careers in the cloud. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, as new cloud jobs and opportunities pop up at a fast clip, and requires a blend of both technical and professional skills to get into these fields.

(This post assumes a fundamental understanding of cloud computing. If you need to get up to speed, or a refresher, you can check out my video “Foundations of Cloud Computing” for Systers/AnitaB.org.)

Network Engineers

Cloud network engineers typically design, build, and implement networks that are completely based in the cloud, or have a hybrid element to them (utilizing both cloud and traditional on-premises networks). They are also responsible for the overall security, sustainability, and operations of its current/future networks.

Data Engineers

Cloud data engineers convert data so that it can be easily analyzed for business purposes. They are responsible for developing, maintaining, and testing infrastructures and an organization’s IT environment for data generation. Data engineers work closely with data scientists and are largely in charge of architecting solutions for data scientists that enable them to do their jobs.

Software Developers and Engineers

Cloud software developers are responsible for writing, modifying, and troubleshooting cloud-based software & applications. Software engineers take this a step further and use their understanding of engineering principles, algorithms, data structures, and languages to create applications that are native to the cloud (utilizing only cloud technologies) or modernizing older applications to take advantage of cloud capabilities.

Security Analysts

A cloud security analyst’s primary duty is to secure and monitor an organization’s overall cloud presence, which may span over multiple cloud environments. They analyze potential risks and threats against an organization’s cloud environment and take appropriate, preventative measures to block them.

Solution Architects

Solutions architects evaluate an organization’s business needs and determine how those needs can be met at a technical level, primarily through the use of products and services provided by major cloud providers. They are responsible for the overall technical direction of a project and work with teams across an organization’s business, operations, and technical departments to craft and implement a complete technical solution.

  • Operating systems (with particular emphasis on Linux)
  • Computer networking
  • Virtualization
  • Cybersecurity
  • Computer hardware components
  • Computer software components
  • High level understanding of different types of programming languages (e.g. Python, Java, SQL)

Getting Started*

For the careers mentioned, an understanding of IT is strongly encouraged to get started. This should include a fundamental understanding of the following:

  • Operating systems (with particular emphasis on Linux)
  • Computer networking
  • Virtualization
  • Cybersecurity
  • Computer hardware components
  • Computer software components
  • High level understanding of different types of programming languages (e.g. Python, Java, SQL)

I would also highly recommend utilizing the free educational resources provided by the major cloud providers, as well as their free/low-cost offerings so that you can get some hands-on experience with their environments. Most businesses use two or more cloud providers; knowing how each one works and how to utilize each will improve your competitiveness in the market.

Additional learning, professional development, news, and podcast resources that I recommend:

Certifications*

Certifications are a constant in a tech professional’s career. They can certainly be a way to prove that you have solid cloud computing and technical skills and set you apart from other candidates for recruiters and companies. There are some things, however, to keep in mind:

  • Not all certifications are created equal — a good certification program should test for a thorough, hands-on understanding of technical concepts and knowledge, rather than simply reciting things that were learned from flash cards or memorizing a study guide in a short period of time.
  • Not all certifications carry the same weight with employers — there are new cloud certifications coming onto the market regularly, but there are others that employers have found to be rigorous and can better assess a candidate’s current skill set.
  • Continuous education and the real world application of skill should be the goal, not the certification itself — while a certification can get an employer’s attention, a competitive cloud computing professional will be dedicated and focused to continual improvement and refinement of skills and finding ways to utilize skill in the real world.

In 2020, renowned IT training provider Global Knowledge recommended the following cloud certifications worth pursuing, based on survey respondent feedback. Depending on your career aspirations, these may be worth pursing:

1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate

2. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

3. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect

4. AWS Certified Developer — Associate

5. Google Certified Professional Data Engineer

6. Microsoft Certified: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

7. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

8. CCSP — Certified Cloud Security Professional

9. CompTIA Cloud+

10. Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

*Disclaimer — at the time of this writing, I was employed as a Microsoft employee and a member of several of CompTIA’s Certification Advisory Committees.

Originally published at https://susannetedrick.com on August 15, 2021.

Cloud Specialist | Author, “Women of Color in Tech” | CompTIA Attracting Tech Talent & Diversity Exec. Council | Host, Wiley Diversity in Tech Series