Spotlights

Job Description

Few things have shaken up the traditional IT world as much as cloud computing. Instead of companies and organizations relying on internal networks, they can simply use private computer resources accessed over the Internet. This saves them time and money, which is why ~94% of enterprises have already adopted it to some degree. Cloud Engineers manage cloud-based systems created by architects, whom they may collaborate with to identify external customer needs and offer improvement ideas or solutions to problems. 
 
They ensure goals and performance expectations are met, draft schedules, and delegate tasks. Cloud Engineers are responsible for creating design documentation and work with a range of hardware, software, and programming languages. Cloud Engineering jobs can be broken down into specialization roles, such as Cloud Architect, Cloud Software Engineer, and Cloud Security Engineer, but some workers are responsible for all tasks depending on the size of the employer’s business. Clouds themselves can be public, private, hybrid, or multi-clouds. Cloud computing has become so prevalent it’s creating unique challenges for workers in computer-based fields who may need to shift into new roles. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Working in a dynamic IT field that has transformed business
  • Helping organizations save time and resources
  • Collaborating with architects and other IT professionals
  • Job security during an era of rapid change
$128,837
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Cloud Engineers have their hands full and can expect to work full-time hours at least. As a rapidly-growing field, the supply of qualified talent doesn’t meet demand yet. As a result, additional hours may be required in order to meet customer needs. 

Typical Duties

  • Building cloud-based servers; testing and launching services
  • Cloud-based infrastructure deployments
  • Database management and software integration
  • Discussing external client needs
  • Ensuring employer software needs are fully met
  • Overseeing system security and changes to the network 
  • Working with or directing the work of architects

Additional Responsibilities

  • Create best practices
  • Provide education and training, as needed
  • Build redundant services
  • Lead automation efforts
  • Keep up with changes in the industry and adjust strategies accordingly
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Customer service skills
  • Decisiveness
  • Highly-organized 
  • Flexibility 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Strong leadership and management skills
  • Patient and analytical
  • Strong communications skills
  • Team-oriented and goal-focused
  • Time management skills

Technical Skills

  • Experience with Amazon Web Services, Azure, SQL, Python, Java, C++, Ruby, Linux, Kubernetes, VMware
  • Application programming interface (APIs), REST, and RPC
  • Software configuration management (SCM)
  • Agile development
  • Networking and internet protocols
  • Scripting, deployment, DevOps, databases, hosting, virtualization
  • Cloud computing, hardware, and computer science skills 
Different Types of Organizations
  • Large tech companies, such as Amazon, VMware, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Dell, Cisco, HP, Alibaba
  • Governmental agencies
  • Healthcare industries
Expectations and Sacrifices

Shifting from in-house networks to cloud-based solutions took a major change in mindsets. After all, organizations rely heavily on their data and on data security, so the concept of trusting everything to a “cloud” took some getting used to. Today, however, cloud companies have earned that trust through proven effectiveness. It’s up to Cloud Engineers to ensure that reputation remains firmly intact!
 
When problems and breaches occur, word travels quickly. In other sectors, brands have often suffered incredible damages due to isolated — but headline-making — problems. The cloud industry is, in some ways, even more susceptible because all companies in this business rely on clients having faith in the concept. According to Security Magazine, ~80% of companies faced a cloud data breach within a 1.5-year study period. The Wall Street Journal cited Nico Fischbach of Forcepoint, who noted, “You just need to miss one [security] item, and that opens the door to any bad actor.” As a result, Cloud Engineers have a massive responsibility on their shoulders!

Current Trends

Shifting to cloud computing is, itself, a new trend that is impacting the careers of other IT professionals such as systems engineers, network engineers, and database administrators. Small-to-mid-sized businesses are cutting costs by using contracted services instead of in-house experts. The result of this is many workers are moving into cloud technology jobs, too. Meanwhile, advances in AI, virtual reality, and cryptocurrency are altering how companies do business which, in turn, drives up the need for more Cloud Engineers. CRN breaks down many of the technical aspects of emerging cloud computing trends, from omni-clouds, Kubernetes, intelligent SaaS, app delivery, and much more. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...

Cloud Engineers can be a pioneering lot, creative and bold and ready to tackle challenges. That said, they’re practical and understand limits and the importance of reaching clear end goals. Growing up, workers in this field were probably very personable and “customer service”-oriented, wanting to understand the problems of others and offer ways to help. 
 
It’s important for them to “be in the loop” on things, to understand situations and their roles in them. It goes without saying that Cloud Engineers were likely interested in computers and technology at an early age, and possibly looked for ways to use the power of the Internet in innovative new ways. They’re tech-oriented, cost-conscious, care about results, and are always on the lookout to learn new things.  

Education and Training Needed
  • Bachelor’s in computer science, information technology, or management information systems (note, Purdue has an Online Bachelor’s in Cloud Computing)
  • Coursework and/or practical experience with:
    • Cloud computing software/services (Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc.)
    • Database management
    • DevOps
    • Cybersecurity
    • Docker
    • Operating systems (Linux)
    • Python, Java, C++, AngularJS, and Ruby
    • Spark, SQL, Kubernetes, Scala, Hadoop, Kafka, Redshift
  • Internships can be very helpful; OJT will also be provided
  • Certifications, including:
    • AWS - Cloud Practitioner
    • Microsoft - Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
    • Google - Associate Cloud Engineer, Professional Cloud Architect, Professional Cloud Developer, Professional Cloud Network Engineer, and Professional Cloud Security Engineer
    • Cisco - CCNA Cloud, CCNP Cloud
    • CompTIA - Cloud Essentials 
    • Cloud Security Alliance - Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge 
    • VMware - VCP6 - Cloud
    • Other learning sites include Linux Academy, Udemy, Coursera, edX, LinkedIn Learning/Lynda, Cloud Academy, A Cloud Guru, and Cybrary
Things to look for in a program
  • Employers want to see proof of experience as well as a college degree. Look for programs that offer practical experiences you can highlight later
  • There are many skills to learn in order to be successful in this field, however you’ll want to focus on courses that build up the primary skills that companies are currently hiring for
  • Look for classes which can complement certifications
  • Reach out to student associations and ask questions to get a feel for the culture and satisfaction rates regarding a program’s curriculum and faculty
  • Read faculty bios; review the program’s facilities, areas of research, and funding
  • Review the school’s job placement stats for graduates. If they aren’t listed, call the department and ask questions about what they offer to help job-seekers
  • Make sure the university is accredited. Many computer science programs are accredited by ABET, which is even better!
  • Always check for info on scholarships, tuition discounts, and other financial aid
List of Cloud Engineer Programs

U.S. News’ Best Computer Science Programs is a good place to start your research into programs, but remember the best are also the most selective and, in many cases, the most expensive. 
 
For instance, their top pick is Carnegie Mellon, which had a 17.1% acceptance rate in 2019 and an average annual cost of $74,491 before financial aid (and $32,674 after aid). The #2 choice, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), had a 2019 acceptance rate of 6.7% and annual costs of $73,160 before aid ($18,278 after). Meanwhile, other schools that are in the top 50, such as University of Florida, have great programs that are more accessible and affordable (U of Florida’s acceptance rate is 38.8% as of 2019; the average annual in-state cost before aid is $21,211, and after aid just $8,057). Things to consider!

Things to do in High School and College
  • It doesn’t take a degree to get started working in cloud computing, so take entry-level roles that can help you build up your skills (see our Education and Training recommendations above)
  • Try to snag internships offering practical work experience. It all adds up!
  • Knock out certifications in your spare time (if you have any spare time...)
  • Be active in school clubs and organizations related to applicable skills sets
  • Keep a portfolio of projects with detailed notes of everything you did. Explain your problems and solutions and how you came to those solutions
  • Earn extra money and practice skills by taking freelance contracts on Upwork 
  • Don’t neglect those soft skills! Communication is a key to success in this field, as well as strong leadership and management characteristics 
  • Stay on top of trends, because technology changes fast and shows no signs of stopping
  • Pass on what you have learned by teaching others. Build a rep as a helpful mentor 
  • Consider kicking things up a notch by writing an online course, making YouTube tutorials, or writing informative articles for websites and magazines
  • Engage with peers by joining in on Quora and Reddit discussions 
Typical Roadmap
Cloud Engineer Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Nowadays most jobs are actually found through strong networking, so tell everyone you’re job-seeking, including peers, teachers, and university career centers
  • Put the word out on LinkedIn; get your profile up-to-speed and ready to impress
  • Attend job fairs dressed sharply and with copies of your (perfectly-edited) resume
  • Hunt for openings on portals like Indeed, Monster, USAJobs, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor
  • Pay close attention to the required experience and skills listed in job postings
  • Competition is fierce, so focus your energies on jobs you’re highly qualified for
  • Customize your resume to each specific company and position you apply to
  • Think like a recruiter! Read Concurrency Lab’s How to Hire Great Cloud Engineers 
  • Include a portfolio link showcasing skills and projects on GitHub, CodePen, etc.
  • Snag some free online Cloud Engineer resume templates
  • Comb through IntelliPatt’s insanely helpful Top Cloud Computing Interview Questions
  • During interviews, when asked if you have any questions, inquire about future positions in a way that shows you want to earn them in the future (versus giving the impression you don’t want the job you’re actually applying for)
    • Indeed has some excellent tips on Why You Need to Ask About Advancement Opportunities During an Interview
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Before applying for jobs, research the company to get a feel for promotion opportunities
  • Do some homework to determine which advanced positions you’d like to reach
  • Show initiative! Do your job to the best of your ability, finish certifications, and let your supervisor know you want to understand how to grow your career
  • Show a willingness to complete the certifications they suggest for you, and not just the ones you’re personally more interested in 
  • If applicable for the role you want, get your master’s degree. Many can be completed online, allowing you the freedom to work while you attend school
  • Become an invaluable subject matter expert for your organization. Frame your case for promotion in terms of their best interests, too
  • Start mentoring others. Groom a replacement so there’s no gap if you get bumped up 
  • Stay on top of new developments by reading constantly and practicing skills 
  • Build a website and/or YouTube channel and grow your personal brand
Recommended Resources

Websites

  • AWS News Blog
  • Cisco Cloud Blog
  • Cloud Computing Magazine
  • CloudTech
  • CloudTweaks
  • Cloudwards
  • Enterprise IT World Cloud Computing
  • IBM Cloud
  • InfoWorld Cloud Computing
  • Microsoft Azure Blog
  • Reddit - Cloud computing
  • ServerGuy
  • TechRepublic
  • VMware vCloud Blog

Books

  • 97 Things Every Cloud Engineer Should Know: Collective Wisdom From the Experts, by Emily Freeman and Nathen Harvey
  • Amazon Web Services in Action, by Andreas Wittig and Michael Wittig  
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Study Guide, by Ben Piper and David Clinton
  • CompTIA Cloud+ Certification Study Guide, by Scott Wilson and Eric Vanderburg 
  • Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide, by Dan Sullivan
Plan B

The IT world is a huge place with something for everyone. If Cloud Engineering isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of alternatives to look into. Here are a few listed by TechRepublic:

  • Data Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Java Developer
  • Software Architect
  • Software Engineer
  • Systems Administrator
  • Front-End Developer
  • Back-End Developer
  • Full Stack Developer

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