By Jim Johnson, Senior Vice President, Robert Half
Professionals with cloud expertise have long been sought after by companies eager to move digital assets, databases and applications from on-site data centers into the cloud. Demand for roles like cloud architect and cloud engineer got a further boost from the pandemic, as organizations pivoted to scalable, cost-effective cloud solutions to interact with their remote workforces and socially distanced customers.
IT professionals in development, security, data and other areas can also enhance their marketability by adding cloud skills to their resume.
Research from Robert Half found that the demand for cloud skills is now far outstripping the supply. According to senior technology managers surveyed, cloud computing, security and architecture is the top skill set needed by IT departments, but more than one-third of managers said these professionals are the most challenging to find in the hiring market.
While it’s clearly a great time for professionals with cloud expertise, you’ll still need to be proactive about your career development if you want to secure a plum promotion at your current company or your dream role elsewhere. Let’s look more closely at the skills and certifications you’ll need to conquer the cloud.
Top cloud skills and roles
Robert Half asked technology leaders to name the cloud roles most needed by their teams, which were as follows:
- Microsoft Azure engineer/architect (named by 60% of those polled)
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) engineer/architect (57%)
- Google Cloud Platform engineer/architect (55%)
- Oracle Fusion engineer/architect (33%)
Most companies’ cloud infrastructures are built on one of the above, and recruiters will often advertise open roles accordingly — Azure Cloud Engineer or AWS Cloud Developer, for example. Experience and/or certification in one or more of these platforms is a must-have for cloud professionals, but if you want to differentiate yourself from other candidates, you should also aim to sharpen your skills in some of the following areas:
- Industry frameworks and methodologies: Many employers require or prefer experience in methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Scrum.
- Cloud security: Employers will want to know that you understand the common risks and vulnerabilities associated with cloud architecture before entrusting you with business-critical data.
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence: The major cloud platforms now offer tools and services that provide access to cloud-based AI and machine learning applications. Expanding your knowledge in these areas is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
- Cloud migration: Organizations looking to migrate from in-house setups to the cloud or from one cloud platform to another will favor candidates with experience in this process. If your current organization has a migration project underway, seize any opportunity to work on it.
- Communication: Don’t forget about soft skills! Cloud architects, in particular, need to collaborate with a diverse set of stakeholders, internal teams and external providers to not only design cloud solutions but also make compelling business cases for them. To excel in this process, you will need to be an excellent and patient communicator.
The must-have cloud certifications are specific to the “big three” vendors (Microsoft, Amazon and Google) and their market-dominating platforms. Additional nice-to-have certifications that will help you flesh out your resume include:
- CompTIA Cloud+: A global certification covering all major aspects of cloud computing, including configuration, security and troubleshooting. It’s ideal for engineers looking to gain expertise across multiple products and systems.
- VMware Certified Professional – Cloud Management and Automation: This certificate shows that you know how to configure and administer a VMWare vRealize environment.
- Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment: High-end specialists in this cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software are highly sought.
Kick-starting your career development
Acquiring some of the skills and qualifications mentioned above may be easier than you think. As the competition for tech talent becomes ever fiercer, many employers are leveling up their career development programs to help them recruit and retain top talent.
To build an internal pipeline for senior technical roles, 56% of IT leaders told Robert Half they are participating in upskilling programs offered by companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle. And over half (55%) said they subsidize certification costs for entry-level or junior-level talent.
As well as talking to your manager about professional development opportunities, ask for stretch assignments to upskill in aspects of cloud computing outside of your comfort zone. If one of your colleagues is designing an exciting or challenging solution, ask if you can sit in with them during any meetings or brainstorming sessions.
To hone your soft skills, volunteer for projects that require interdepartmental collaboration, giving you the chance to interact with people outside your immediate circle and specialization.
Salary trends for cloud professionals
Finally, be sure to track what your skills and experience are worth in the current market so that you feel confident negotiating a salary with a potential employer or a raise with your current one. The latest Robert Half Salary Guide can provide a range of starting salaries for cloud architects, engineers, managers, administrators and more cloud roles.
These trends reflect the growing importance of cloud computing in business — and society. For professionals willing to master the deeper intricacies of the cloud and continually build their cloud skills, the sky’s the limit.
Follow Jim Johnson on LinkedIn.