As enterprises migrate a constantly expanding number of their workloads to the cloud, they need an ever-increasing number of IT professionals with cloud computing skills. That's driving up cloud salaries and attracting more job applicants.
According to PayScale, the average U.S. salary for workers with cloud computing skills is $122,000. And the Robert Half Technology 2019 Technology and IT Salary Guide reported, "Cloud architects, cloud systems engineers and cloud developers are among the roles in high demand." It also noted that cloud computing analysts near the top of their profession are earning between $118,00 and $159,500 per year.
Similarly, Global Knowledge is reporting very high salaries for cloud-related certifications. In fact, in its list of 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2019, three of the top five were related to cloud computing. In fifth place, AWS Certified Developer Associate certification pays an average salary of $130, 369, and fourth place went to AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate with an average salary of $132,840. At the very top of the chart, the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect certification pays an average of $139,529, which was good enough for first place.
It isn't just the money that’s attracting IT professionals to the cloud. Today, a wide variety of roles are requiring cloud expertise. Developers, database administrators, systems administrators, even help desk professionals are expected to have some knowledge of cloud computing. IT pros who don't have cloud experience or skills on their resume might find it difficult to find a new job.
For IT staffers, then, it's really a carrot-and-stick situation. The possibility of higher pay is the carrot that makes moving into a cloud computing role desirable, and the threat of potential irrelevance is the stick that makes it seem necessary.
However, figuring out how to transition from a traditional IT position to a cloud computing role isn't always easy. If your day job doesn't require working with the cloud, how do you go about getting the abilities you need to get a job in cloud computing?
The following slides offer nine tips for obtaining a cloud-related position.
1. Narrow Down Your Job Options
If you want to work in the cloud, you have many different potential roles to choose from. It's often easiest to transition to a cloud role that is relatively similar to the job and skills you already have. Even if that isn't the job you want to have eventually, making a short hop to a very similar role is probably easier than jumping to a role that is very different.
For example, if you are currently a traditional software developer, the most natural fit for you is probably to become a software as a service (SaaS) developer building cloud-native applications. If you are a security professional, the obvious choice is to become a cloud security professional. If you are an enterprise architect, becoming a cloud architect seems like a very reasonable goal. Once you have some cloud experience on your resume, you could transition to a different type of cloud role.
Of course, not every role is going to happen as neatly as these examples, so you may want to take some time to think about the skills you currently have and map them to a cloud role with similar requirements.
2. Experiment with Cloud Services
One of the biggest benefits of the public cloud is that cloud services are extremely inexpensive. In fact, all the major public cloud services offer a free tier. That means that you can practice using these services from home in your spare time without spending any money. There really is no substitute for hands-on experience, so even if you don't use the cloud in your current position, you can try the services out on your own time. This approach also demonstrates the kind of initiative that employers often find desirable, and it has the added benefit of letting you see what a cloud job might be like before you accept a position.
3. Explore Online Training
Online cloud computing training opportunities abound. Many of the courses are free or low cost. The public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud all offer a range of educational experiences, some of them self-paced and some instructor-led. Third-party providers like Global Knowledge, Learning Tree, CloudAcademy, Udemy, Coursera, edX, and others also offer a variety of training programs. In addition, many university computer science programs offer courses directly or in partnership with one of the providers. Depending on which type of training you choose, you may be able to get a certification or college credit.
4. Learn Cloud-Friendly Languages and Tools
In addition to having a good understanding of the cloud platforms themselves, it also makes sense to learn some of the related tools you might be using in the cloud. For example, some programming languages are more helpful than others. Python can be very useful in cloud management, and a growing number of cloud-native applications are being written in Go.
Many organizations that are migrating to the cloud have also adopted DevOps methodologies, so it also makes sense to get some experience with some with DevOps automation tools like Chef, Puppet, Jenkins, and/or Ansible. Of course, containers are also very popular in the cloud. (More on that on the next slide.)
5. Gain Some Container Experience
Multiple surveys have revealed that most organizations are adopting hybrid cloud or multi-cloud strategies. In these environments, IT professionals often must move workloads from one public or private cloud to another, and increasingly, the most popular way to do that is with containers. If you haven't worked with containers before, you should investigate two of the most popular containerization tools: Docker and Kubernetes. Adding one or both skills to your resume could make it easier to find a job in cloud computing.
6. Beef Up Your DevOps Skills
Anyone who understands DevOps will tell you that the approach requires far more than just adopting some new tools. In addition to gaining some skills with automation and container tools, you should also make sure you understand the principles of DevOps and how to put them into practice. A quick Google search will turn up hundreds of online resources explaining what DevOps is, and if you prefer an honest-to-goodness book, you might want to read The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, George Spafford, and Kevin Behr or The DevOps Handbook by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis. You could also attend one of the dozens of DevOps Conferences or take a DevOps training course.
7. Consider Certifications
The IT profession is divided on the topic of certifications. While some people claim that certifications have helped them get jobs and earn more money, others say their certifications have been basically worthless.
According to the most recent research from Foote Partners, certified tech skills add an average of 7.4% to IT workers' base salary. However, pay for certifications is trending down and is currently at the lowest level in five years. That said, some certifications are more valuable than others. For example, Foote says that the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional certification adds about 11% to a base salary (although it has been trending downward).
Ultimately, deciding whether the knowledge and potential earnings boost you gain from achieving a cloud computing certification justifies the cost is a very personal decision. Having a certification on your resume certainly won't hurt your job prospects, and it may make it easier to transition into a cloud position. All the major public cloud providers offer certification options, so you'll certainly have plenty of options if you do choose to pursue a certification.
8. Add Related Skills to Your Resume
Some experts say that non-certified, less-technical skills may be even more valuable on your resume than a cloud certification. Currently, enterprises say their biggest cloud challenges aren't technical in nature. Instead, they are struggling to manage their multi-cloud environments and optimize cloud costs.
As a result, IT professionals with skills and experience in analytics, negotiation, project management, and related areas may find it easier to obtain a cloud-related job offer. Soft skills like communication and teamwork can also be important, so make sure that your resume mentions your non-technical capabilities as well as specific cloud computing technologies.
9. Stay on Top of Cloud Trends
The cloud landscape changes incredibly quickly, so it's important to stay up to date on what's happening. Cloud-related websites like InformationWeek's Cloud section can help you keep track of the latest news and attending cloud conferences can also be helpful. These events also offer networking opportunities that might make it easier for you to find your next position.
While transitioning from a traditional IT role to a cloud computing role will require some effort, the high demand for cloud professionals is working in your favor. That high demand should also keep cloud salaries on the rise for the foreseeable future.Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio