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How to become a cloud engineer

Cloud engineers build and maintain businesses' cloud infrastructure. Explore our guide to the education, certification, and training needed to become a professional cloud engineer.
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Written by Matthew Sweeney, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

Have you ever wondered who helps create and maintain the cloud technology behind your Google backup data and Dropbox files? Cloud engineers are IT specialists who handle cloud infrastructure. 

Cloud engineers allow businesses to integrate cloud technology to keep databases secure and accessible.

However, Forbes reported in 2020 that a scarcity of qualified professionals currently undermines the overwhelming demand for cloud engineers. If you're thinking about filling the gap, this page is for you.

Read on to learn more about the process of education, certification, and training involved in becoming a cloud engineer.

What do cloud engineers do?

Cloud engineers build and maintain cloud-based infrastructure. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Designing, managing, and implementing cloud-based applications
  • Helping businesses migrate databases to cloud infrastructure
  • Negotiating with vendors on issues such as cost-control, scalability, etc.

They collaborate with other IT team members and keep upper management informed on cloud-migration project status.

The typical cloud engineer specializes in one cloud-service vendor, such as:

Industries where cloud engineers usually work include computer systems design and finance and insurance. They may also work in company and enterprise management.

Specialized roles within cloud engineering include:

These roles require specific expertise. Cloud developers, for instance, primarily develop cloud-based applications and services.

Skills you need to become a cloud engineer

Cloud engineers' work draws upon a mixture of technical and managerial skills. They need education and training in technical skills in areas such as network services configuration and software engineering to possess basic competence. 

However, they also need business-related soft skills to collaborate effectively with management and service providers.

Soft skills

Hard skills

  • Database management
  • Programming
  • Network configuration
  • Software engineering
  • Cybersecurity

How do I become a cloud engineer?

Cloud engineer is typically not an entry-level position. Most cloud engineers work as software engineers or IT managers before crossing over. Recent graduates can sometimes secure work as a junior engineer under an experienced cloud engineer.

Becoming a cloud engineer entails gaining the required skills and experience through college, graduate certificates, certifications, a bootcamp, or work.

1. Earn a bachelor's degree in IT or computer science. 

To work as a cloud engineer, you typically need an information technology degree at a bachelor's level. A computer science degree can also make your resume attractive, with its broad scope and emphasis on theory. Some common majors, typically available both online and in-person, held by cloud engineers include:

Many cloud engineers bolster their bachelor's with a graduate certificate in cloud computing/engineering.

However, not all employers demand a degree. Successfully completing a coding bootcamp and demonstrating your skills during a technical interview may be enough to land a job.

2. Learn coding through coding bootcamp(s), your degree, and/or self-study.

A cloud engineering career usually requires a working knowledge of at least one programming language. Cloud engineers should consider learning:

  • Java
  • C++
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PHP

Mastering multiple computer languages is a smart choice, as it makes you more versatile and attractive to employers. Luckily, Python, PHP, and Ruby are among the easiest programming languages to learn.

You can learn to code in a variety of ways. Your IT/computer science bachelor's will likely feature required coursework in Java, C++, or Python. Coding bootcamps provide another path. Most coding bootcamps last 3-6 months and cost $5,000-$30,000.

You can also learn to code independently through resources such as free online coursesand websites for practicing programming problems.

3. Earn relevant certifications.

Professional certifications are essential to a cloud engineering career because they showcase your skills with commonly-used vendors. Popular certifications that can prove helpful include:

  • AWS certifications, including Cloud Practitioner, Solutions Architect, Developer, SAP on AWS, and SysOps Administrator at varying levels
  • Google Cloud Platform certifications, including Professional Cloud Architect, Professional Cloud Developer, and Professional Cloud Security Engineer
  • Microsoft certifications, including Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate and Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

You can also earn cloud computing certifications from vendor-neutral providers such as EXIN and CompTIA.

4. Gain relevant experience in the tech industry.

Experience is another important factor in advancing a cloud engineering career. Many skills a successful cloud engineer needs, particularly managerial skills, cannot be learned in a classroom. They must be developed in the workplace.

You can build experience by pursuing a tech internship. Your best bet is with big tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, or Intel. If your internship is successful, you may get a job offer with competitive job security and benefits.

5. Create your resume and apply for cloud engineering roles.

Now it's time to create a winning resume. When crafting your resume for a cloud engineering job, pay particular attention to the following tech skills:

  • Programming languages
  • Cloud service vendors (i.e. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, etc.)
  • Other areas of specialization, such as cybersecurity or software engineering

Emphasize internships, jobs, and academic or personal projects relating to IT, software engineering, and data science when discussing experience.

You can expect interviewers to ask what troubleshooting processes or collaborative methods you have used to resolve cloud integration and security/access-related issues. Prepare ahead of time to collect your thoughts. 

In addition to a typical behavioral interview, practice for a technical interview where you may be asked to code or solve a problem in real time. Know your toolbox inside and out.

This article was reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

A headshot of Sierra Gawlowski, a smiling brunette woman.

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her BS in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington. She has worked for a private engineering consulting firm as well as for public agencies. Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of directors for Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network. 

Last reviewed April 21, 2022.

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