Cloud engineers–i.e., professionals responsible for assessing a business’s infrastructure and migrating different functions to a cloud-based system–are in high demand, as more companies move critical business processes and applications to public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructures. These professionals build, maintain, and link to cloud services, with a mix of technical skills, business knowledge, and experience with at least one of the major cloud providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
To help those interested in the field better understand how to break into a career in cloud engineering, we compiled the most important details and resources. This guide on how to become a cloud engineer will be updated on a regular basis. (Note: This article on finding success as a cloud engineer is also available as a free PDF download.)
SEE: How iRobot used data science, cloud, and DevOps to design its next-gen smart home robots (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)
Why is there increased demand for cloud engineers?
Named one of the most in-demand tech jobs of 2019, cloud engineers are in great demand due to the large number of organizations moving business functions to the cloud. Some 68% of enterprise IT departments are now using public cloud infrastructure, according to a NetEnrich report. More than half of tech pros say that the cloud and hybrid IT is their organization’s no. 1 most important IT strategy today, as nearly all organizations move some workloads to the cloud, a SolarWinds report found.
“As companies move away from an on-premise infrastructure model to a cloud-first approach when upgrading or designing new environments, the need to hire technologists with cloud experience has increased dramatically,” Paul Wallenberg, senior unit manager of technology services at staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network, told TechRepublic.
SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides
As such, between 2015 and 2018, job searches for roles related to cloud computing–including cloud infrastructure, cloud security, cloud architect, and cloud engineer–rose nearly 108%, according to an Indeed report. Employer interest for candidates with cloud computing skills rose 33%.
But even with high job seeker interest in these roles, employer demand still outpaces the number of qualified candidates available, according to the report. Searches for the terms cloud computing and cloud engineer have risen 141% in the past two years, Indeed found.
SEE: Managing the multicloud (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)
- What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know about the cloud, explained (ZDNet)
- 69% of enterprises moving business-critical applications to the cloud (TechRepublic)
- Top digital transformation tech investment priorities for 2019: Cloud, cybersecurity, and AI (ZDNet)
- 51% of tech pros say cloud is the no. 1 most important IT strategy (TechRepublic)
- Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)
What does a cloud engineer do?
Cloud engineers are responsible for assessing the existing infrastructure of a business, and researching solutions for moving different functions (like database storage) to a cloud-based system, according to our sister site Tech Pro Research. Then, this person migrates the function to the new system, and maintains it.
SEE: Job description: Cloud engineer (Tech Pro Research)
Cloud engineers require technical abilities to perform the migration, as well as the ability to negotiate terms with vendors, ensure security of the data, and implement best practices throughout the process. These professionals also communicate progress to senior management, and work closely with IT teams to integrate existing structures into cloud-based systems.
- Tech skills in most demand this year: data, cloud and cybersecurity (ZDNet)
- Employers: we’ll boost pay, and even some training, for cloud computing skills (ZDNet)
What are some cloud engineer job roles?
Cloud engineers can take a number of different career paths. Here are the 15 most in-demand roles in the field that list cloud-related skills in their description, according to Indeed:
- Software engineer
- Senior software engineer
- Software architect
- Development operations engineer
- Full stack developer
- Cloud engineer
- Data engineer
- Java developer
- System engineer
- Data scientist
- Systems administrator
- Senior Java developer
- .NET developer
- Front-end developer
- Back-end developer
- 5 ways cloud computing will change in the next year (TechRepublic)
- Hybrid cloud: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
What programming languages and other skills are best to learn to become a cloud engineer?
Cloud engineers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. Those in the field often have years of software development experience, working with a variety of programming languages such as Java, AngularJS, C++, and Python. Cloud engineers also often know a number of tech tools and platforms, such as SQL, Kubernetes, Spark, Hadoop, Scala, Kafka, and Redshift, according to Cloud Academy. Other useful skills include DevOps, Docker, and Linux.
SEE: Quick glossary: Hybrid cloud (Tech Pro Research)
Cybersecurity skills are also highly useful for cloud engineers, as 40% of IT professionals report stalling their cloud migrations due to a shortage of security expertise, according to a McAfee report.
- How to get a job in cloud computing: 10 skills to master (TechRepublic)
- The 3 most valuable IT skills that will advance your career (TechRepublic)
- Reevaluate skills expectations for engineers working in cloud-based data centers (TechRepublic)
What is the average cloud engineer salary?
Cloud engineer was one of the highest-paying tech jobs of 2018. Cloud engineers have a median base salary of $96,449, according to data from Glassdoor. The average salary of cloud engineers in the US at the time of publication was $118,586, according to Indeed.
- The 10 best tech jobs that pay the highest salaries (TechRepublic)
- 11 tech jobs where you can earn a salary of over $200K (TechRepublic)
- How to get the raise you deserve: A 5 step plan (TechRepublic)
What are the hottest markets for cloud engineer jobs?
The five US metro areas with the most open cloud computing jobs for 2019, according to Gartner TalentNeuron, are as follows:
- Washington DC, Arlington-Alexandria, VA
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
- Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL
- The 10 best cities to find a job in 2019 (TechRepublic)
- Here are the best and worst US cities for tech professionals to live in 2018 (TechRepublic)
- The 8 best places in the Midwest to find a tech job (TechRepublic)
What are typical cloud engineer interview questions?
Applicants for cloud engineer jobs can expect a number of different types of interview questions, including their prior experience with: Cloud platforms and technologies, security issues, and collaborating with other teams.
Some questions that a cloud engineer can expect to be asked during an interview include:
- What kind of projects have you been involved in where you implemented specific solutions to the cloud?
- What are some of the types of security issues you’ve confronted or encountered in regards to cloud implementation?
- What kind of relationships have you formed with cloud service providers?
- What web development tools are you most proficient in? What are your favorites to use and why?
- Give me an example of how you worked with other members of an IT team to solve a particular obstacle to cloud-based solutions.
- Interview questions: Cloud engineer (Tech Pro Research)
- Throw out the whiteboard: 3 ways to improve the technical interview (TechRepublic)
- How to conduct a technical interview: 5 questions to ask (TechRepublic)
SEE: Cloud Data Storage Policy (Tech Pro Research)
Where can I find resources for a career in cloud engineering?
There are many paths into a career as a cloud engineer. While there are a few specific cloud computing degree programs, a background in computer science or IT is often required.
There are also a number of cloud certifications from vendors that can demonstrate your skillset with those vendors, including:
- AWS certifications for those in Cloud Practitioner, Architect, Developer, and Operations roles, along with specialty certifications for other technical areas;
- Microsoft certifications such as MCSE: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert and MCSD: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer;
- Google Cloud Platform certifications such as Associate Cloud Engineer, Professional Cloud Architect, Professional Cloud Developer, Professional Cloud Network Engineer, and Professional Cloud Security Engineer
- Cisco certifications, including CCNA Cloud and CCNP Cloud).
Vendor-neutral options include the CompTIA Cloud Essentials certification and the Cloud Security Alliance’s Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK).
A good place to start gaining cloud computing skills is by learning a programming language such as Java, C++, or Python. You can also look into developing a broader set of skills in networking, virtualization, and storage through your current company.
- 10 popular programming languages developers should learn in 2019 (TechRepublic)
- Google wants to fill the cloud talent gap with 4 new certifications (TechRepublic)
- 13 in-demand tech certifications that will help you get a better job (TechRepublic)
- Programming language of the year? Python is standout in latest rankings (ZDNet)
- The top 5 IT certifications that will increase your salary (TechRepublic)
- Forget the most popular programming languages, here’s what developers actually use (TechRepublic)
- Top 10 programming languages employers actually need (TechRepublic)