With the acceleration in cloud technology adoption, knowledge of working with the cloud is poised to become a valuable asset for IT professionals. Cloud certifications to consider come from several different cloud service providers.
Cloud computing—using the internet to store data and services instead of a computer hard drive—is growing. Increased internet access, the reduced cost of using the cloud, new technology, and pandemic-driven digitization of many services have each accelerated the adoption of cloud technology. Business advisory firm Gartner predicts that cloud will make up 14% of all global enterprise IT spending in 2024, up from 9% in 2020
Should you get a cloud certification?
Like many IT professions, hands-on experience can often speak louder than certification by itself. That said, a certification can be useful in indicating your abilities to hiring managers, and help you build out experience where you might be lacking.
Cloud computing is a heavily in-demand skill. The average salary for cloud computing professionals in North America was $153,655, according to a 2020 report by Global Knowledge. That’s much higher than the average for the overall industry, which was $115,906. Global Knowledge also listed two cloud professions—cloud administrator and cloud architect—among their top ten recession-proof IT jobs.
If you have some experience in IT or computer programming and want to gain experience in cloud computing, or want to integrate the cloud into your career, a certification can certainly be beneficial. If you’re just starting to explore the IT space, you might want to consider an entry-level IT certification.
The following certifications are often recommended for those trying to position themselves for entry-level cloud-related jobs. The prices listed are as of Apr 2022.
1. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Solutions Architect – Associate
The AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification involves a multiple-choice exam that tests your ability to deploy, manage, and use various services in AWS, the leading platform in the cloud market. The certification shows your proficiency in the basic technical concepts of AWS cloud engineering that can position you to qualify for related jobs.
Just starting out with AWS? The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner cloud certifications is designed for candidates with a few months of experience and can be a way to build up experience for the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification. Or consider taking some courses in AWS Fundamentals on Coursera.
- Cost: $150
- What’s being tested: Compute, networking, storage, and database AWS services; deployment and management; basic architectural principles of building in AWS; global AWS infrastructure; network technologies in relation in AWS; among other subjects
With the second largest market share in the cloud space, Azure can be a useful cloud platform to learn. The foundational certification for Azure involves the AZ-900 exam, and is designed for those with both technical and non-technical backgrounds. It’s a solid certification to get you up to speed with fundamental Azure knowledge. From there, you can go on to get the Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certifications, though it’s not a prerequisite.
- Cost: $99
- What’s being tested: The differences between cloud services like IaaS and PaaS; benefits of using cloud services; core Azure services like virtual machines (VMs), containers, Kubernetes and database services; understanding of Azure core solutions and management tools; basic security, include network security; and other subjects
Prepare for the AZ-900 exam through Microsoft’s Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 Exam Prep Specialization. You’ll get a 50% discount on the exam cost if you complete it in full.
Getting certified as a Google Associate Cloud Engineer will mean showing competency in basic aspects of working with Google Cloud. This includes setting up a cloud solution environment, managing storage and databases, and configuring access and security, among other things.
- Cost: $125
- What’s being tested: Setting up cloud solutions by creating projects, managing users in Cloud Identity, and managing billing configuration; planning and configuring compute resources, data storage options, and network resources; deploying Google Kubernetes Engine, applications; managing a virtual machine (VM); and more
To get started, you can take a course in Google Cloud Product Fundamentals, which can be the first step in getting the Cloud Engineering with Google Cloud Professional Certificate.
Want a more holistic introduction to IT work? Take a look at the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.
4. IBM Certified Technical Advocate – Cloud v3
IBM cloud services take up less market share than the others, but can still be useful in industries that use IBM cloud platforms. The IBM Certified Technical Advocate – Cloud v3 (formerly known as IBM Certified Solution Advisor) is the foundational certification for the IBM Cloud. If you work at a place that primarily designs solutions based on the IBM cloud, or hopes to do so in the future, this certification can make sense. There are several more advanced levels of IBM cloud certifications, like the IBM Certified Professional Architect – Cloud v5.
- Cost: $200
- What’s being tested: Understanding of cloud concepts; IBM Cloud components; architectural principles and patterns; networking and security; Cloud Native practices cloud deployment; among other things
5. Cloud Security Alliance: Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)
The CCSK is issued by the Cloud Security Alliance, a vendor-neutral certification provider. This means that the things you learn from getting a cloud certifications can be applied to different cloud platforms. The CCSK focuses on the fundamentals of cloud security. There are other advanced certifications, like the CCSP from (ISC)2, that indicate a professional level of mastery of cloud security.
- Cost: $395
- What’s being tested: Cloud computing concepts and architecture; governance and enterprise risk management; legal issues and contracts; data security; virtualization and containers; and more
Which cloud certification should you get?
If you decide to get the 5 best cloud certifications, it’s a good idea to look at what cloud platform is often used in your geographical area and target industry. Government agencies often use Azure; financial companies might use IBM or AWS.
As of April 2022, Amazon Web Services, or AWS, had the largest market share of cloud infrastructure providers, followed by Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM .