In the era we are living in today, it would be hard to find someone who has not heard of Cloud Computing. From storing and sharing files using google drive to watching movies on Netflix. Cloud technology is everywhere. We are living at a point of massive technological shift IT has ever seen. IT engineers are dealing with this at large. No matter what kind of work you do, you will be dealing with some aspect of cloud technology for sure.
With so many companies offering cloud services it's become a must to master what we are being offered. Not only to do the best of work we can, but also for the monetary advantage that it brings about. You can take your career to the next level by upgrading your skills. And as cloud technology is so relevant today, having practical knowledge is only one side of the coin.
So, the question is - How do you attest your knowledge? How do you endorse yourself as an expert cloud tech individual? How do you make sure that you get paid more?
The answer is - To get a Cloud Computing CERTIFICATION.
Each major cloud provider allows you to appear for an exam and get a Cloud Certification. These certificates hold great value as -
1. The service provider itself provides it to you. Your certificate will portray that loud and clear.
2. The examination is time-based with questions that judge your expertise. [Questions are set in such a way that only after the good practical experience you can answer them.]
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So if you hold a good practical knowledge of the cloud world, why would you want to get certified at all? After all the certification comes at a price!
First of all, no amount of certificates can beat practical knowledge. And that holds true in all fields of life. But being certified means, you hold something to prove your knowledge. Whatever level of certificate you hold, acts as an endorsement for what you can offer.
In-fact, companies mostly look for cloud computing certified individuals to work for them. Once you are certified, your chances of getting paid better increases many-folds. Demands of cloud certified professionals are increasing every year. So if you are in any way working with cloud tech, getting certified will no doubt be the next step.
If you add the number of certifications there are three major Cloud service providers; AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Each of them is relevant to a different track of work one wishes to do. So how do you choose?
Here’s something that might help you!
Here’s some data on highest-paid cloud certifications today according to payscale.com
AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate - $154,300
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect - $154,102
AWS Certified Developer — Associate - $125,714
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Server Infrastructure* - $101,000
*Keep yourself updated with this information. Once more people get certified with a particular certification, there might be a decline in demand. Or new certifications might find more relevance.
There are many things one can achieve on the cloud today (Here's the perfect parcel of information to learn cloud computing). You can run big data analytics, serve out serverless applications, etc.
No one certification can help you master everything. A very good example of this is the AWS certification tracks available today. There are certifications on basic level Cloud Practitioners to a Security Expert. I strongly agree that one should start at a basic level and move their way up. This shows your commitment and also increases your chances of getting hired. It would be great if you could master several tracks too. You could be a Big Data and a Machine Learning certified professional at the same time.
Example of some Cloud Certifications Available [Beginner Level]
One thing I have encountered in the past is that many companies like to work with many vendors together. They do not go for just one. So you could always mix and match and get certified by multiple cloud providers.
Example - You could do that under the same track - Cloud certified in DevOps track by AWS + Azure. Doing this will make you a master of your track with all service providers. That adds more value to you as you can work with many vendors. So your chances of being hired by XYZ company gets better as they don't have to worry about you know only one CSP.
Let’s do a deep dive and get to know why are these cloud certifications so popular. One thing to keep in mind is that all the Cloud certifications have some cost and validity aspect to it. Once your validity is over you might want to get re-certified. The reason for this is the fact that every few months’ new services are introduced. Old services are refurbished. So, to maintain the present-day relevance certificates are usually valid for two-three years.
1. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Google is the third most popular cloud service provider as of 2019. Even then it's the highest paid certification today. GCP certifications have been around the shortest after being introduced in 2017. The professional architect certification helps you architect and create resources on Google Cloud. The cost of the certification is $200. All GCP certifications are valid for two years hence giving you a good amount of time to showcase it. As the number of google cloud certified people are less compared to AWS and Azure, this certification could make you stand out.
2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate (AWS-SAA)
AWS is the market leader for Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for 9 consecutive years. This means the AWS cloud is the one which a major amount of companies will be using and adapting to. The AWS-SAA certification aims at prospective cloud architects. This certification also consists of other aspects like security and availability. This again is a very important topic for cloud tech users. It gives a good understanding and wide overview of all things AWS. Anyone who starts with AWS usually chooses this certification. Hence the demand. The certification cost is $150. Validity - Three years.
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3. AWS Certified Developer Associate (AWS-DA)
As said earlier, AWS being the market leader is most readily adopted. This certification is meant for developers who don't want to concentrate too much on the internal workings of the cloud. If you are a developer who wants to leverage the cloud to deploy code, create web servers, etc., this is your go-to way. With this, developers don't need the help of architects and can do things on their own. This reduces the overhead of having multiple people working on a single assignment. One person can easily manage it all. The certification cost is $150. Validity - Three years.
4. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Server Infrastructure (MCSE)
Microsoft products are already widely used everywhere in the world for many years. So needless to say, becoming Microsoft certified will obviously come in handy for you. This will help you get more opportunities and stand out among other IT professionals. Server Infrastructure certification will attest to your basic understanding of MS Cloud. The certification cost is $150. Validity - three years.
5. Salesforce Technical Architect (CTA)
Many people don't know this but, Salesforce has a big hand in the Cloud Technology revolution. It was the first company to provide software as a service. Once again to help you stand out in the crowd, CTA could be the one. Salesforce cloud is also used by many companies today. The CTA exam costs $6000 (costliest of the lot) and is reviewed by a special board. It stands up to its reputation of being very hard. So the number of CTA professionals will be less in number (another advantage).
Now we know how much these certifications pay and why they are so popular. The next step would be to understand the real-time trends.
I did a comparison on google trends and here are the results –
You can do the same for yourself, change the time-frame/area and find out what others are looking for. This will give you a statistical idea of what could make you paid more.
As I mentioned earlier, flaunting a cloud certification is only one side of the coin. Without having proper practical knowledge, it will be difficult to get certified. Get ready to get your hands dirty and experiment a lot. Experiment with which CSP suits you best. Understand what track do you want to work in, in the future and march that way.
Keep yourself updated on new certification tracks. Prepare well enough before appearing for the exam. Advertise your cloud certification in the right way (LinkedIn/Indeed).Don't rush! Most of the certifications require hands-on practice for 2-3 years. Keep these in mind.