Cloud engineers plan, develop & support organizations' rapidly growing cache of cloud computing solutions.
Let’s start with a quick definition of “cloud computing” for those who are unfamiliar with the term. Simply put, cloud computing is the on-demand, pay-as-you-go distribution of IT resources over the Internet. The cloud has changed the way IT departments operate by providing a newfound level of control and scalability over technological resources like data storage and processing, web hosting, software distribution, and analytics. This ability for organizations to host key IT products and services in a shared, web-based environment with dedicated off-site management personnel leads to greater efficiency, lower costs, better security, increased mobility, and a host of other benefits.
Now that we have a basic understanding of cloud computing and why it’s a top priority for employers, let’s explore some career options. The most popular cloud computing job title is “cloud engineer,” which is the designation we’ll use most frequently on this page, however “cloud engineer” typically represents a category of job roles that includes cloud architect, cloud support associate, and cloud developer - each of which we’ll delve into deeper. Cloud computing knowledge is not only important for jobs with “cloud” in the title - this expertise is in high demand for legacy tech roles like software engineer, data scientist, and cyber security specialist as well.
Cloud engineers typically fall into one or more of these 3 skills areas:
- Cloud Architecture: Cloud architects plan the infrastructure and distributed applications running in the cloud. They combine strong business acumen and technical expertise to design and optimize an organization’s cloud-computing blueprint.
- Cloud Development: Cloud developers perform the coding and software engineering that brings the architect’s vision to life. They merge traditional programming skills with specialized knowledge in one or more of the leading cloud platforms' development environments to build, deploy, and optimize cloud-based applications.
- Cloud Support: Cloud support engineers tend to work for the actual cloud service providers - including a host of jobs at industry leaders Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and Google - and are responsible for onboarding, troubleshooting, and maintaining cloud computing solutions.
Universities and private computer schools offer courses and certificates in cloud computing and IT degree programs that feature coursework in marketable cloud skills. Compare cloud engineer training programs in the U.S. and online below.
a.k.a. Cloud Computing Engineer | Cloud Architect | Cloud Developer | Cloud Support Associate | Cloud Operations Manager
Cloud Engineer Skills & Responsibilities
The skills needed to become a cloud engineer vary according to job function. Here are some of the most sought-after skill sets and day-to-day activities for popular cloud engineering roles.
In-demand skills and responsibilities for Cloud Solutions Architects include the following. Cloud architects:
- oversee the organization’s cloud computing strategy.
- analyze in-house systems for potential migration to the cloud.
- project the potential costs, benefits, and ROI of cloud computing adoption.
- understand key cyber security concepts and their impact on serverless resources.
- manage a mix of cloud environments, i.e., public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions.
- have a working knowledge of emerging technologies relevant to cloud computing, e.g., Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- possess superior soft skills in project management and complex problem-solving.
Marketable skill sets for Cloud Application Developers include the following. Cloud developers:
- develop, launch, and debug cloud-based applications.
- have hands-on coding skills in one or more desirable cloud-applicable programming languages, such as Python, R, Ruby, Java, and .NET.
- can utilize one or more of the leading cloud vendors’ software development kits (SDK).
- understand application lifecycle management (ALM).
- develop secure apps using current cyber security best practices.
- reverse engineer in-house programs and repackage them into cloud-native apps.
- often have database development skills in platforms like SQL, MySQL & Hadoop.
- have knowledge of emerging container management platforms like Kubernetes and Docker.
- benefit from skills in DevOps - a highly sought-after methodology designed to bridge the gap between developers and operations staff - to produce better apps more quickly.
Sought-after skill sets for Cloud Support Associates include the following. Cloud support pros:
- handle the day-to-day management of clients’ cloud-based solutions.
- diagnose and troubleshoot technical issues in the employ of cloud vendors.
- help customers successfully deploy and implement cloud computing solutions.
- resolve technical support tickets via telephone, chat, email, and sometimes in person.
- benefit from fundamental skills in network and systems administration.
- know their way around one or more popular operating systems such as Linux, Unix & Windows.
- understand artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) & data analytics - three of cloud vendors’ most common up-sell areas.
- need exceptional verbal and written communication skills to assist clients.
- may possess basic programming skills (which improve job prospects in this role).
In addition to the role-based skill sets above, here are some core expertise that will benefit all cloud engineers. Cloud engineers:
- Understand terminology and concepts across popular public cloud services, including the “cloud computing stack,” i.e., Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
- Here's a good article from Rackspace explaining the cloud computing stack.
- Are familiar with popular solutions from the leading cloud vendors, especially the big 3 - Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform - which account for most of the public cloud market. A growing number of businesses employ solutions from numerous providers at once, so there is definite value in learning multiple cloud platforms.
- View this graph for a breakdown of cloud computing market share by vendor.
Cloud Engineer Salary
The average annual wage for cloud engineers is $119,000, according to our analysis of online job boards.
Here are the average salaries for cloud engineers and related career paths:
|Cloud Computing Career||Average Salary|
|Cloud Systems Analyst||$84,000|
|Cloud Support Associate||$85,000|
|Cloud Security Engineer||$96,000|
|Senior Cloud Engineer||$146,000|
The median hourly wage for cloud computing engineers is $72 per hour.
Source: Analysis of Online Job Boards
Cloud Engineer Education Requirements
Cloud engineering positions have a varied set of education requirements depending on the job role and cloud solutions in play at the organization. Here’s a breakdown of cloud engineer education requirements for the most popular cloud computing careers.
While the learning plans above will help you get your foot in the door, remember that most cloud engineering roles are not entry-level. In addition to earning cloud engineering degrees and certificates, real-world experience in the above skills will be key to landing a job in this field.
Compare the best cloud computing bachelor's degrees online.
Cloud Computing Courses & Degrees
Few colleges offer degrees centered exclusively around cloud computing - for now - although many programs include coursework in the skills and platforms you need to become a cloud engineer. Here are some certificate and degree programs that align with cloud engineering careers.
- Cloud Architecture and Design
- AWS SysOps Certification Prep
- Network & Server Administration
- Soft Skills for IT Professionals
- Cloud Application Development
- Cybersecurity & Secure Coding
- UI/UX Design and Development
- Software Reverse Engineering
Cloud Engineer Certifications
In a field like cloud computing where the most desirable skill sets are rapidly evolving, getting certified is the best way to show employers you have the latest and greatest expertise. Cloud engineering roles also tend to be vendor-specific, i.e., employers want candidates with knowledge in the specific cloud platform(s) in use at the organization.
It's estimated that over 35% of companies (and rising) in the cloud use solutions from two or more vendors concurrently, so earning multiple certs across various platforms will improve job prospects.
Here are some of the most marketable certifications for cloud engineers:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certifications
- Microsoft Azure Certifications
- Google Cloud Platform Certs
- CompTIA Cloud+
- Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)
- VMware Cloud Management & Automation
The best cloud engineering certifications in the U.S. are those from industry leaders AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Here's another look at cloud computing market share to help direct your cloud certification path.
Cloud Engineering Jobs
Your cloud computing skills and experience may qualify you for various job openings. Use the links below to browse and apply to:
- Cloud Engineer jobs
- Cloud Architect jobs
- Cloud Developer jobs
- Cloud Support jobs
- DevOps jobs
- Cloud Security jobs
- AWS Cloud Computing jobs
- Microsoft Azure jobs
- Google Cloud Platform jobs
Cloud computing is among the fastest-growing technology sectors, with the workforce demand to match. There is also a significant skills gap in the public cloud marketplace, meaning there are more job openings than qualified engineers to fill them.
The cloud engineer job outlook is especially bright for those with expertise in Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) - the three fastest-growing cloud segments over the next 5 years according to technology research firm Gartner. Other cloud engineering skills areas seeing faster-than-average growth include cloud security, hybrid cloud, and DevOps engineering. Cloud architects and developers with skills and certifications in IT project management are also in high demand.
It’s worth mentioning here that cloud computing isn't all upside for the American IT workforce. Because it means migrating certain IT resources that would traditionally be managed inside of the company to the cloud, there will be reduced hiring for certain in-house computing roles. Tech jobs that will be adversely affected by the proliferation of cloud computing include help desk technicians, systems administrators, and DBAs, although some (but far from all) of these workers will now be able to find work at cloud solution providers.
Frequently Asked Questions
IT insiders answer common questions from people considering the Cloud Engineer career path.
What is a cloud security engineer?
Cloud security engineers are responsible for securing cloud technologies and thus play a major role in safeguarding organizations’ growing caches of cloud-based data from attack. Marketable skills for cloud security engineers include multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud encryption, cloud firewall management, and identity access management (IAM).
What is a DevOps cloud engineer?
DevOps cloud engineers are responsible for building and maintaining fast, efficient, and reliable operations in the cloud. Desirable skills for DevOps cloud engineers include creating software delivery pipelines, deploying and monitoring services, and continually optimizing performance.
What is a cloud support engineer?
Cloud support engineers provide technical assistance to users of popular cloud solutions. Leading platforms that cloud support technicians need to know in 2022 include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and IBM Cloud.
How much do cloud engineers make?
The median salary for cloud engineers is $118,750, according to the 2022 salary survey from IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology. Additionally, cloud managers earn $129,750 while cloud architects make $153,750 per year.
- DevOps Engineer
- Software Engineer
- Computer Programmer
- Systems Analyst
- Help Desk Technician
- Web Developer
- Data Scientist