As more companies around the world undergo strategic digital transformations, professionals with cloud computing expertise will be in high demand. The median salary within this field was more than $146,000 in 2018—a significant increase from the median $124,300 salary just two years earlier. During the same period, there were more than 50,000 cloud-based job openings, with no signs of slowing down.
“Companies are wondering whether and how to move some of their operations on to the cloud,” says Tony Mullen, associate teaching professor in Northeastern’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences. “Many have already done so, but those companies are going to continue to be looking for people who understand what the cloud’s all about and how those resources are used.”
In addition to high salaries and job availability, cloud computing professionals also benefit from the field’s flexibility. Most jobs within the industry can be performed remotely, protecting them from many of the workplace uncertainties brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing professionals to work anywhere in the world.
Here are some of the skills you’ll need to break into the cloud computing industry and the top cloud computing careers in 2020 to consider.
Prepare for a Successful Career in Cloud Computing
Learn how Northeastern’s Graduate Certificate in Cloud Computing can accelerate your career.
Cloud Computing Skills
Unlike other computer science careers, cloud computing does not necessarily require extensive coding skills, according to Mullen.
“There’s a basic level of technical and programming literacy that I think would be important for most cloud-related jobs, but you don’t need a huge emphasis on coding,” he says.
Instead, Mullen recommends getting experience in one of the four major public cloud services: AWS from Amazon, Azure from Microsoft, Google Cloud, or IBM Cloud.
“Once you’ve got a familiarity with one, the skills are fairly transferable,” Mullen says. “When you first look at the services available on these cloud providers, it’s dizzying, and many of them have obscure names. Getting past that and getting comfortable in one of the big providers helps.”
The following skills and knowledge can also be useful, depending on your specific role:
- Ability to measure, analyze, and make recommendations based on data
- Cloud security
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Experience in multi-cloud environments
- Database maintenance and development
Top Cloud Computing Careers
Cloud computing offers many job types, from administrator roles to development-focused opportunities. Here are some of the top cloud computing careers today. Note that salaries may be much higher based on your location, employer, and skillset.
Average Salary: $111,064
Cloud software engineers specialize in developing software based on cloud service architectures and their underlying systems. They design and implement software in conjunction with a team of programmers and developers, requiring excellent teamwork and coding skills, and are also responsible for regular maintenance and troubleshooting.
Average Salary: $85,000
System engineers build and develop new systems within the cloud to meet unique business needs. They also manage, install, test, configure, and maintain operating systems and software to ensure the highest levels of availability. This, in turn, allows a cloud system to operate as efficiently as possible.
Average Salary: $92,714
Traditionally, cloud database administrators were responsible for designing, installing, and configuring databases; general database maintenance, such as upgrades and troubleshooting; database migration and security; and developer assistance. As cloud technology has developed, this career now includes additional tasks related to data access, such as data recovery, security, and access speed.
Average Salary: $79,285
Cloud-based systems contain huge amounts of data, making security essential. Jobs typically consist of making and implementing security strategies both internally and in partnership with cloud service providers in addition to monitoring systems for potential threats. If you work in an industry that has its own regulatory protocols, such as healthcare or government, you’ll need to integrate those security procedures into your company’s cloud system.
Mullen notes that administrator roles may appeal to professionals making a career change, as they require knowledge of cloud processes and environments, with a lesser emphasis on coding.
Breaking into Cloud Computing
Earning a certificate in cloud computing can position you to take advantage of this growing industry. Northeastern’s new cloud computing software development certificate, available at the university’s Boston, Portland, and Seattle campuses, uses a combination of faculty-developed courses and a curriculum developed by Amazon Web Services to ground students in foundational cloud computing skills.
The four courses offered teach programming, object-oriented design and programming, software architecting and development, cloud architecture, and more. Experiential learning opportunities include industry-facing, real-world projects completed with data from cloud platform companies to solve business problems they face today.
With these skills, students will be prepared to take optional AWS certification tests, to become certified cloud practitioners and solutions architect associates, which are considered some of the top-paying IT certifications available.
“The certifications act as a well recognized, widely understood way to indicate a breadth and depth of knowledge that’s hard to indicate on a resume otherwise,” Mullen says.
Northeastern students will receive vouchers for practice tests and exam fees if they choose to pursue AWS certification.
Though students can enter cloud computing roles after completing this four-course program, they can also stack credits from the program into a master of science in computer science degree, making it an excellent gateway for professionals with little to no computer science experience who are interested in a new career.
“We’re very interested in working with students without a computer science background,” Mullen says. “Whatever students’ backgrounds are, it’s something that can probably apply to the work they’re going to be doing in this program. The certificate can be as related as they want to what they already know.”
To learn more about Northeastern’s cloud computing certificate, explore the program details here.