Cloud Engineer Jobs
What is the difference between cloud architects and cloud engineers?
Often, not even upper management can articulate the distinction.
Cloud architects design a cloud solution with a customer-facing approach. They meet up with the client, talk about their needs and goals, and architect the cloud infrastructure to achieve them. Cloud architects also work closely with developers, making sure that their needs are also met, while using cloud resources efficiently.
Cloud engineering is not a client-facing position. Engineers migrate infrastructure to the cloud, and integrate existing systems into cloud-based solutions. They join any project at a later stage, and their job involves less whiteboarding and more technical expertise.
How to become a cloud engineer?
You will need a strong software development core in addition to cloud-related expertise. Cloud engineering is not about architecture, as much as it is about tech details. The main requirements for the position include:
- Basic understanding of the fundamentals of cloud architecture.
- Programming in a variety of languages – Java, AngularJS, C++, Python, etc.
- Using software development kits (SDKs) by leading cloud computing providers like AWS and Azure.
- Application lifecycle management.
- Database development on SQL, MySQL, and Hadoop.
- Security best practices for developing cloud-native applications, as well as during the process of migrating data to the cloud.
Cloud engineers will also benefit from understanding DevOps and keeping up with emerging content management platforms like Kubernetes and Docker.
Cloud Architect Jobs: Salary Range
The average base salary for cloud architects is $122,908 per year or $73.18 per hour.
However, seniority, expertise, as well as the size of your company all influence how much you will get paid. We gathered a more granular breakdown of salaries in the industry.
These numbers come from PayScale and other sources might cite slightly higher or lower salaries.
The six figure range, though, is completely realistic and common for cloud architects.
Here is how your salary varies depending on your seniority:
- Entry-level cloud architect jobs: $81,573 total salary
- Junior positions: $95,135 total salary
- Senior positions: $122,312 – $143,433 total salary
But some companies pay much more than that:
At Microsoft Corp the average salary is $148,000!
Some of the skills that get higher pay include DevOps, big data analytics, and Microsoft Azure.
The highest paid cloud architect jobs are in Washington DC (14.2% above the national average), New York (9.8%), and Atlanta (8%).
Finally (and importantly), if you are working with AWS, get certified. It can increase your salary by up to $12,000!
Cloud Computing: Freelance
Remote cloud architect jobs are increasing in number as the field grows. Still, cloud architecture is predominantly a full-time office job.
The perks of freelancing are clear:
- No commuting
- Flexible hours
- Working from any place in the world
However, employers are still hesitant about going completely freelance. In cloud architecture, your role combines technical and business aspects. You will have to sit in meetings, give reports to management, as well as communicate directly with clients.
While you might get home office time (usually a few days per month), there are few fully remote jobs. At the time of writing this article, Upwork only had 7 postings!
Telework is more common in cloud engineering, which is a more tech-dense position.
Cloud Computing: Education & Certifications
First, the good news: you don’t necessarily need a degree.
Then, the bad news: no degree means you’ll have to work extra hard to gain experience.
If you are currently in college or considering going back, do:
- Computer Science
- Software Development
- Computer Engineering
- Information Technology
If you’re having trouble deciding which tech degree to pursue, consider the skills you will need for your future job. While cloud architects need a basic understanding of development, they don’t necessarily need to code themselves.
Choose networking, administration, and cloud-related subjects instead. Learning how to deal with confidentiality and sensitive data on the cloud is also indispensable. Since cloud architecture is also about the management of computer system resources, enterprise computing courses and business-oriented classes will also come in handy.
Cloud Architect Certification
First things first, the AWS certs can boost your earnings by $12K so they are the best for AWS architect jobs.
Amazon offers both associate and professional-level certifications, as well as specializations (for instance, working with AI). They have a dedicated certification path for architects. The most sought-after cloud certification in the field is, in fact, their AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional.
Microsoft has their own certification – the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. It requires at least one passed Microsoft exam in Windows Server 2016, Cloud Platform, Linux on Azure, or Windows Server 2012 as a prerequisite.
Cisco’s certification programs are reputable and highly sought-after in the industry. However, they are planning to retire all current certifications and begin offering new ones, staring February 2020. Keep an eye for new information on the Cisco website.
Finally, the VMware VCP7 – CMA certifies you can work with the VMware vRealize hybrid cloud management platform. It’s a complementary certificate that will look good on your cloud architect resume, but is rarely a requirement.
Cloud Computing: Technical Skills
Cloud architecture jobs come with a variety of IT requirements.
Understanding the Characteristics of Cloud Computing
There are undeniable perks of using cloud-based services:
- Rapid elasticity allows you to automatically request more space on the cloud as your needs grow.
- High availability (that the cloud service providers take care of) through the broad network access.
- Faster and better performance – resource pooling gives businesses access to better infrastructure for cheaper.
- Increased security (again, overseen by the cloud computing providers).
As a cloud architect, you need to be aware of those advantages and know how to use them best to serve your client/company. If cloud implementation is still pending, your expertise is even more important.
If that’s the case, you won’t manage with just a solid understanding of cloud computing. You’ll also need communication skills so you can answer questions and present solutions to people with little to no tech background.
Business-oriented IT skills are key for success as a cloud architect. They include:
- Operating system administration – Linux, Windows OS, or Mac.
- Networking – TCP/IP protocol, HTTPS, etc.
- Migration and integration of existing infrastructure (into the cloud).
- Software development (basic understanding) and application lifecycle management.
- Specifics of cloud-native development and data security.
Enterprise computing is an umbrella term for all the ways in which businesses use information technology. There are constantly new things coming up in the field, so you will need to continuously educate yourself on it.
This is within the scope of enterprise computing BUT it’s so important that we’re giving it a separate section.
One in four companies are upping their IT budget because of a recent security incident!
The better acquainted you are with th principles, controls, and procedures for optimal security, the more valuable you become to your future employer.
Cloud Computing: Soft Skills
When people ask:
What skills are required for cloud computing?
… non-technical ones don’t really come to mind first.
But consider this:
Technical expertise is linked to your day-to-day work on the position. The top soft skills like creativity and communication will help you thrive in any field or company.
Or, if you prefer numbers and research:
- When Google crunched the numbers, the seven top characteristics of success were all soft skills – communication, empathy, coaching, etc.
- An MIT Sloan study found that soft skills training, even in factory settings, yields impressive ROI (250 percent!).
- According to Deloitte, by 2020 two-thirds of Australian jobs will be soft-skills intensive positions.
With these facts in mind, it’s time to bone up on soft skills like:
Cloud-based solutions are still solutions to actual business problems. In fact, a lot of the decision-making around cloud technology adoption comes from non-IT people. CFOs and COOs finance cloud implementation but they are rarely tech-savvy.
Business skills will help you succeed in the field… Plus, they look great on your cloud architect resume because companies value real-world solutions, not just expertise in the technical side of cloud adoption.
Solid interpersonal skills are useful everywhere. In cloud solutions architecture, you need them to get your point across – even to people who know very little about the cloud. Since cloud architecture is such an interdisciplinary field (a little bit of business, a little bit of law and compliance, and a whole lot of tech), communication skills are indispensable.
When trouble strikes, creativity is more important than it seems.
Troubleshooting is one thing, but as a cloud architect, you’d be expected to provide more advanced support. This involves resolving complex and critical issues.
And you need to be fast, too – businesses depend on their internal operations!
The cool thing about cloud computing is that the ecosystem is always changing. AWS alone has come out with multiple new tools and solutions this year. There are new products, new practices, new regulations… You will never get bored, but a passion for learning is a must!
Cloud Architect Jobs: In Conclusion
The IT forecast:
(Not Pennywise, the IT people.)
Our world is getting cloudier by the minute:
- 90% of companies are now on the cloud.
- By 2021, 94% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers.
- The cloud computing market is expected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023.
Considering the trends in cloud computing, jobs in cloud architecture will grow exponentially over the years to come. With high demand comes greater job stability, easier employment search, and (of course) higher pay.
There is no better time to learn your way around a cloud!