If you’re already working in the cloud arena, you’ll know it’s a fast-paced environment. Technology is constantly changing, new security challenges are appearing daily, and business demand for good skills is insatiable. It’s a great domain to work in that offers a promising future to all involved.
However, with that said, it’s easy to lose sight of the potential career paths available if you believe you have to have a degree to progress. The good news is, though, that needn’t be the case. While a college degree may be beneficial in some cases, it is not a top priority for many employers. Instead, they are actively seeking candidates who have specific practical tech skills in areas such as cloud architecture, development, databases, and security. So now’s a great time to put ‘cloud architect’ into your career plan, regardless of your education.
What is a cloud architect?
Let’s cover the basics quickly. Cloud architects are skilled professionals who are responsible for designing, building, and managing a company’s cloud infrastructure.
According to Intellipaat, “In the United States alone, there are over 227,000 jobs for cloud computing professionals as per LinkedIn, which in turn makes the demand for cloud architects one of the highest in the world.” Add to that the fact that the average salary for a cloud architect in the US is around $144,000, and the role starts to have real appeal.
So, how do you get there? Let’s look at the skills you need.
What skills do you need to be a cloud architect?
To move your career forward as a cloud architect, you, of course, need to build the relevant skills, knowledge, and experience. From a technical perspective, you should be thinking about cloud platforms. Do you want to head down the AWS, Google, or Azure route to begin with? Plus, you’ll need a good working knowledge of networks and data centers, a strong appreciation of cloud security, and knowledge of cloud infrastructure and applications.
Additionally, some training on cloud architectural design is critical, as is a good working knowledge of operating systems such as Unix, Ubuntu, and Windows. And a general understanding of programming languages, such as C#, Perl, Ruby, Python, and .Net, etc. will come in very handy.
However, with all this talk about tech skills, you mustn’t forget that other critical qualities are also required. Cloud architects are collaborators. You need strong communication skills that enable you to work effectively with cross-functional teams and clearly explain technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders. And, without being able to problem-solve, manage your time, and think critically, you would struggle to make a success of the role.
Why you don’t need a degree to become a cloud architect
The great thing about the fast-moving tech world is that up-to-date skills can easily be learned via certifications; you don’t necessarily need a college degree. While some companies may insist on an IT engineering or computer science degree, experience, and specific cloud knowledge more often than not offset this. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 72% of employers think that bootcamp graduates are just as able to perform well as candidates with computer science degrees. Plus, 12% actually think bootcamp grads are more prepared and able to succeed than traditional job candidates.
Moreover, given the rapid changes taking place in the cloud computing space, a traditional engineering or IT degree that’s steeped in academic pedagogy often trails behind what the industry needs at any given specific moment. And employers are aware of this. So, this is where more up-to-date certification programs can help. Tech programs designed with a specific job role in mind will equip you with the specific skills employers actually need.
How to become a cloud architect through certifications
So, what can you do to move your cloud career forward if you haven’t got a degree? As you can see, getting the requisite skills is very achievable through industry-approved certifications. With the many courses available online now, it’s easy to build your skills wherever you are at a time that suits you. You can either build the knowledge you need through individual courses on specific programming languages or aspects of cloud security and infrastructure etc. Or, you can look for more comprehensive programs that crack the nut in one go.
Many cloud professionals take a platform-specific approach and focus initially on one of the main cloud providers. Professionals with on-the-job cloud experience can cut their cloud architect teeth with specific training in Google, for example. Our Google Cloud Architecture Certification Program is a great example.
Alternatively, you may prefer to get started with Microsoft Azure – a highly popular platform with businesses across the world. If you haven’t got much Azure experience under your belt, it’s worth starting off with an AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Course. This should then be followed up with the AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator Course, which is a prerequisite for then taking the ultimate course that will help you reach your goal – AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. When you pass the AZ-305 exam, you’ll then be able to call yourself a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.
By the way, one thing to watch out for with online training and certifications is opportunities to get your hands dirty. Businesses are crying out for professionals with practical experience. So, courses and programs that include hands-on labs and capstone projects will help you strengthen your resume significantly. If nothing else, the practice you get will also give you something to talk about in interviews.
And don’t forget, another useful avenue for building that all-important real-world experience is to explore freelance sites like freelancer.com. You’ll find assignments involving cloud computing that you can apply for. So, registering on these platforms, bidding on projects, and completing them will help you gain hands-on experience and add another string to the bow.
Steps to become a cloud architect
By now it should be clear that you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a cloud architect. Building the right skills and obtaining relevant certifications instead can pave the way for a successful career in such a role. You just need to focus your energies on taking the following necessary steps, and you’ll get there.
- Plan your career around building skills and experience in different cloud platforms, for example, AWS, Google, or Microsoft Azure.
- Begin your learning journey by taking cloud and platform-specific fundamental courses.
- Upskill yourself within the learning path you have chosen. Explore relevant certification programs and exams that can add value to your resume.
- Register yourself as a freelance cloud architect on freelance sites and bid on cloud projects.
- Join cloud computing network groups on LinkedIn.
- Update your resume and begin applying for your dream role!
If you would like to know more about how you can build skills and get started as a cloud architect, contact our Learner Support Team at [email protected]. They will be more than happy to guide you on the next steps you can take.