How to Get Started on Your Cloud Career
Do you want to start your cloud computing career? Are you looking for that first cloud job with limited experience? Are you looking for a solid study strategy? Below, we’re going to show you what to do to reach your dream cloud career.
Starting on Your Cloud Career
Congratulations on beginning your career path! There is a lot of information out there – but how do you separate the good information from the bad. Some of these resources are very reliable, and some are questionable. The overwhelming majority of people offering “guidance” are doing so without asking about your career goals or even your background. They may be well-meaning people but they’re providing “guidance” based solely on their individual experience.
Often, what we see on social media is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it’s not specific to the individual looking for guidance, and often it’s coming from someone who doesn’t have the experience to offer the information. No one can provide accurate guidance without knowing your personal situation (experience, goals, desires, etc.) In this article, I offer general guidelines on how to approach your career path. Here, we share what you should and should not do on your path to becoming a successful cloud professional.
Before You Do Anything Else
Don’t become a “Jack of all trades.”
Do not become 10Xs or even 7Xs AWS certified. We have an entire article on this, here. Long-standing technology professionals understand that no one becomes a master of everything. You can really only be great at 1-2 things. Successful technology professionals find a specific area of the cloud environment like networking, security, or databases, and become specialists at it. In contrast, when a candidate interviews with a full suite of AWS certifications, Hiring Managers (HMs) immediately perceive them as a “jack of all trades but a master of none”. Memorization with great test-taking abilities does not equate to competency and deep, specific knowledge desired in a candidate.
Focus on one skill and become a Subject Matter Expert (SME) at it.
I’ve spent much of my career in networking. I spent a decade of my career focused on the BGP single routing protocol then the PIM routing protocol. Even though these two subjects are barely 10% of understanding networking as a whole, this specialty was my primary focus. I became so good at it, I wrote “Introduction to Multicast Routing” and I was consistently invited to speak on the topic. Attendants at these speaking opportunities were constantly amazed at my level of subject matter detail. Because of my knowledge and competency in this specific area, every time I presented; I was always offered a job. I didn’t become a cloud generalist. I focused on a topic within the cloud and became very, very good at it. At Go Cloud Architects, we want you to experience the same opportunities as a competent and viable candidate. So, become great at one thing, strive to be better than anyone else at this one thing, and you will have an amazing career!
What Kind of Cloud Architect Do You Want to Be?
Again, we talk about focus. There is no “one size fits all” cloud architect career path. Each architect path requires a different background, different training, and different levels of certifications. Make sure your chosen career and goals are completely aligned. When career goals, training, and knowledge come into focus amazing things happen.
General Cloud Architect
As a general cloud architect, you’re someone who enjoys and wants to focus on the generic architecture of the cloud. Great! But how does one focus on generic architecture? A candidate should possess deep knowledge of the systems in the network and the datacenter. After all, a cloud is just a network and datacenter that’s been virtualized. So, if you want a great cloud architect job learn these skills. Help your resume stand out by getting a professional cloud certification like the AWS Certified Solution Architect Professional or the Google Professional Cloud Architect. Then add something from the industry like the TOGAF, or CCNP, or RHCE. Something that shows knowledge of network and datacenter components or architecture like TOGAF.
Cloud Infrastructure Architect
A cloud infrastructure professional comprises either a data center background, networking background, or both. If you possess these strong backgrounds, understanding the cloud will be easy as the Cloud is nothing more than a virtual data center with a virtual network. Without prior experience, a candidate needs to have deep knowledge of cloud networking and that requires certification such as the AWS Certified Solution Architect Professional, the AWS Networking Specialty, and a good network certification such as the CCNP or the CCIE. This development path says to hiring managers “This is a focused candidate who knows and understands networking agnostically AND through a cloud service provider.”
Cloud Security Architect
A successful security cloud architect needs a deep security knowledge that goes far beyond understanding NACLs or a security group. A well-rounded cloud security architect would ideally possess an AWS Certified Solution Architect Professional, CISSP certification, and the AWS Security Specialty. Additionally, a candidate would know how to ethically hack and fix an operating system or web application. The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) with practical is arguably the best option to show in-depth hacking knowledge for assessing computer system security. These skills make for a highly desirable cloud security architect.
Cloud Data Architect
There are plenty of people that enjoy database administration, design, and development. This is a huge specialty with a track record of career success. Successful candidates start with the AWS Solution Architect Professional then the AWS Database Specialty then perhaps something from the industry in general. Mixing the cloud certs with a database certification from Oracle will show knowledge, focus, and dedication to this area.
Don’t waste your time getting multi-certified in a suite of certifications (ie multiple Associate level certifications for AWS). Learn the fundamentals of the cloud, get a cloud professional certification, start focusing on what component of the cloud you enjoy the most, and become an SME at it. So, get all your ducks in a row, match your training, match your message, and match it with your certifications. This is the pathway to becoming a hiring manager’s perfect package for that cloud architect job of your dreams!