What Is a Cloud Engineer?

Updated March 3, 2023

Cloud engineering is a specialty within IT that allows professionals to work in an ever-evolving field where there is an abundance of employment needs in cloud-related services. Preparing for a career in information technology means exploring the potential career paths within your industry. By researching the diverse options, you could discover an intriguing career path that you might not have considered otherwise.

In this article, we define what a cloud engineer is, list some of the key responsibilities, review the average salary expectations, discuss how to become a cloud engineer and answer some frequently asked questions about the profession.

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What do cloud engineers do?

Cloud engineers have a variety of responsibilities to perform in their daily job. Here are some everyday job duties for cloud engineers:

  • Work with key stakeholders to learn about the changes they want to make to their existing systems

  • Assess existing systems to discover potential weaknesses that could compromise cloud security

  • Transfer company data onto its cloud-computing system and organize easy retrieval

  • Stay updated on cloud-computing technology to deliver best practices to their employer or client

  • Update cloud storage space to maximize record-keeping of files and other important company information

  • Collaborate with cybersecurity and IT personnel to ensure the safety of company information in computer systems

  • Monitor accessibility of cloud services by authorized company personnel

  • Design and implement cloud computing systems in accordance with employer or client needs

  • Automate certain processes throughout the system to maximize speed and efficiency

  • Test designs and system updates to isolate and correct errors

  • Troubleshoot problems relating to cloud application malfunctions or security breaches

Average salary for cloud engineers

Cloud engineers make an average of $122,259 per year in the U.S. It is important to remember that this estimate can vary depending on the location of employment, size of corporation and level of experience.

How to become a cloud engineer

There is a specific path you need to follow to become a cloud engineer. Here is a step-by-step guide to starting a career as a cloud engineer:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Those who want to pursue a career in cloud engineering first have to complete a four-year bachelor's degree program in either information technology, computer science or computer systems management. In these programs, students learn about the basics of coding, cloud computing, database management, cybersecurity, troubleshooting IT systems and more.

2. Complete an internship

Completing an internship during your schooling or after earning your degree allows you to gain professional experience in cloud engineering or a related area. This is important as it allows you to see what it's like to work in an IT role, and the experience can provide you with more insights into whether you want to pursue cloud engineering as a career.

An internship also shows employers that you have a commitment to furthering your knowledge of cloud computing, data storage or cloud cryptography which enhances your employability.

3. Gain work experience in a relevant area

After earning a bachelor's degree, you should pursue experience as an IT specialist, computer programmer, system administrator or database administrator. These roles will give you the skills and expertise you need to oversee a cloud-computing system. These may include:

  • Database management

  • Computer programming

  • Customer service

  • Written and verbal communication

  • Cybersecurity and risk management

4. Pursue industry certifications

Pursuing industry certifications can improve your professional skills and help set you apart from other applicants. Here are a few certifications related to cloud engineering:

  • CompTIA Cloud+ certification: This is an entry-level certification for IT professionals with two to three years of professional experience. It allows them to gain fundamental knowledge about cloud computing and standard practices, making it a vendor-neutral certification for participants to learn about virtual data center management and practices.

  • Cisco CCNA Cloud certification: This is another entry-level certification, which teaches participants about cloud management tactics specific to Cisco. Participants also learn more about how they can use cloud technology to help advance a business.

  • Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification: This is an advanced certification for industry professionals with previous experience in cloud administration or development. It helps participants gain expert knowledge in areas such as infrastructure, development and security.

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP): This is a function-based certification which allows participants to learn how to manage a cloud system properly for a business.

5. Consider a master's degree

This is another optional step, but a master's degree could enhance your employability and give you a competitive edge as a cloud engineer. You may also need a master's degree if you seek a senior cloud engineer position. If you do decide to pursue a master's degree, you need to complete a two-year program in either computer science, information technology, business administration or cloud computing.

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Cloud engineer FAQs

Here are some additional questions you might have about cloud engineers, their roles and responsibilities:

What skills do you need to work as a cloud engineer?

Cloud engineers need a combination of technical and interpersonal skills to complete their job effectively. Here are some necessary skills that help cloud engineers in their daily job environment:

  • Programming languages: Cloud engineers should have advanced knowledge in multiple programming languages, including Java, Ruby and Python.

  • Attention to detail: Cloud engineers need to be very detail-oriented workers in order to catch potential mistakes and use programming languages efficiently.

  • Risk management: Risk management is the ability to asses potential risks for hacking and other interruptions to cloud computing systems. Cloud engineers should be able to anticipate potential threats and apply the right practices to prevent leakage of private company information.

  • Interpersonal communication: Cloud engineers need to be able to adapt their communication tactics to accommodate different professional relationships. For example, they should be able to use plain language when talking with a business owner who does not have the same level of technical knowledge as their IT coworkers.

  • Time management: Cloud engineers need to have excellent time management skills as they usually have multiple projects to complete at the same time. They should be able to delegate specific amounts of time to each of their projects to meet coinciding deadlines.

What is the work environment like for cloud engineers?

Cloud engineers work within the information technology department of corporations or as a part of technology companies. There are a variety of industries that need cloud engineers to manage and store important information. These include:

  • Manufacturing

  • Health care

  • Automotive

  • Finance

  • Education

Like many IT roles, cloud engineers work in a fast-paced and collaborative environment where they strategize with other IT specialists to create and maintain their organization's cloud system. Cloud engineers also meet with upper management to discuss new cloud computing technologies and answer questions about cloud storage.

On an average day, cloud engineers monitor existing cloud applications to check for security breaches and debug applications as needed. Cloud engineers also devote time during their day to code new applications and perform tests.

What are some related careers for cloud engineers?

Cloud engineers can use their skills and qualifications to take on other job positions as well. Each of the following roles uses similar coding languages and computer literacy to create and maintain web, mobile or content management systems for businesses:

  • Data engineer: Data engineers are responsible for designing, implementing and updating data systems or databases for an organization. This allows companies to upload financial documents or employee information for further review.

  • Software architect: Software architects lead a team of individuals to design, code, test and update software applications or software programs.

  • Java developer: A java developer uses their knowledge of the Java coding language to create Java applications and software programs.

  • Software engineer: Software engineers work for corporations or clients to develop customized software programs that contribute to daily business operations. This may include content management system databases.

  • Full-stack developer: Full-stack developers specialize in front-end and back-end development. They use their skills to code and design websites and software programs. Their expertise allows them to code the server side and client side of a website.

  • Development operations engineer: Development operations engineers or DevOps engineers analyze a company's operations and create software applications to help enhance those operations.

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