Cloud Computing

‘Cloud engineer’ tops jobs list, but knowing what kind pays off

The position of cloud engineer is a bit of a catchall. Companies may want more specific expertise than what appears in a job listing.
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· 3 min read

Number three on Indeed’s 2023 list of “best jobs” seems like a pretty fantastical gig by title alone: Cloud engineer.

But the responsibilities of a cloud engineer can get pretty, well, cloudy. Ranging from data experts and coders to platform-specific pros and other specialists, all have a hand in helping a company move their IT systems to hosted infrastructure. That’s why narrowing your expertise could help you stand out in the field, and lead to a shower of cash.

“You’ve got to start somewhere where you can have a narrow focus, and have very deep expertise to be able build your career and help add value to the customer that you work for,” said Dan O’Brien, SVP of technology solutions at the global advisory Presidio.

Cloud-wowed. A 2022 report from market-intelligence firm Gartner predicted that end-user spending on public cloud services would reach nearly $600 billion in 2023.

That’s good news for the cloud engineer, which ranked highly for the career site Indeed in an analysis that factored in flexibility, salary, and job-post frequency.

Companies may use multiple clouds—a report from the authentication provider Okta saw a rise in AWS and GCP pairings—but providers still require specific expertise for their unique tools.

With many platforms, including Azure, Terraform Cloud, and MongoDB Atlas, it may help to not just be a cloud engineer, but a: [insert platform here] cloud engineer.

“Even if you’re an individual that wants to learn multiple skills or multiple cloud providers, most companies out there are probably looking for one or the other,” said Seth Robinson, VP of industry research at the nonprofit trade organization CompTIA.

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Cloud providers have a variety of certifications. The AWS Solutions Architect Associate, for example, demonstrates a platform-specific proficiency in networking and data storage. Microsoft’s Azure Fundamentals cert shows expertise in security and cloud basics. (There are many more.)

Another way to specialize in the cloud? Keep an eye on cloud costs.

Unlike a network engineer, who has to make the case for the one-time purchase of an on-premises server rack, a cloud engineer must justify services that are ongoing. The larger skills gap today, said Robinson, is the “ongoing maintenance and optimization of the environment.”

Is there an overflow of services? Are there licenses being unused?

“That’s the place to focus on. I think that’s what companies are looking for the most,” said Robinson.

Tools like Amazon CloudWatch, Azure Monitor, or Datadog provide monitoring for cloud environments.

Specialization can be industry-specific, but cloud engineers should be ready to adapt to the latest skills and microservices offered by today’s platforms, said Will Perry, US cloud innovation and engineering leader at the business-services firm PwC.

Platforms like AWS, GCP, and Oracle Cloud continually offer new microservices, APIs, and tools. Azure, for example, announced it will incorporate ChatGPT.

“If you’re going to become a cloud engineer, and we think about the rate with which technology changes, you need to get comfortable with reinventing yourself every 12 to 18 months,” Perry told IT Brew.

And an IT pro sitting comfortably in the cloud sounds like a pretty relaxing gig.—BH

Do you work in IT or have information about your IT department you want to share? Email [email protected].

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.