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Are you on the right cloud computing career path?

As the use of cloud computing increases within companies, jobs with cloud skills also emerge. Are you on the right cloud career path?

While the rise of cloud computing frightens some in IT, many see the technology as an opportunity to accelerate their careers and bolster their bank accounts.

And IT pros have good reason to be optimistic. In a 2012 survey conducted within a 90-day period by Wanted Analytics, more than 2,400 companies said they are seeking candidates with cloud computing skills. Moreover, hiring demand increased by 61% from 2011 to 2012 for IT people with cloud knowledge. Analyst firm IDC also released a report last year that indicated public and private spending in cloud computing will increase exponentially over the next few years, resulting in an available jobs boost of nearly 14 million positions worldwide.

There is an explosion in both the use of cloud computing and the demand for people to assist in the mass migration to cloud. Indeed, there are about 50 to 70 jobs chasing truly qualified candidates at this point in time, according to technical recruiters.

And there are two categories of cloud computing careers that seem to be emerging in the space: positions seeking IT pros with specific cloud skills and positions looking for IT admins with cloud architecture know-how.

Jobs that require specific cloud computing skills, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) expertise or Google App Engine development skills, are typically with companies that have already committed to specific cloud service providers. These are usually for newly formed groups within IT departments, and the position is focused around tactical solutions development.

Roles for people with specific cloud skills encompass the majority of cloud computing jobs on the market today -- with AWS skills leading by a large margin, and Google, Microsoft and Rackspace postings following. Figure 1 shows the growth of job postings that request AWS talent, with a 2,500% growth over the six-year period. These jobs range from configuration, to development, to operations positions. And salaries range from $80,000 to $180,000 annually, depending on location.

Companies with positions for cloud architects seek people who can define the cloud -- from business requirements to the actual cloud deployment. These jobs tend to be with companies that have yet to define their path to the cloud and need some assistance in doing so. They may be defining the use of existing private and public clouds, or perhaps building clouds from the ground up.

Cloud architecture jobs are typically posted as "cloud solution architect" or other descriptive terms. Job posters are looking for strategic knowledge of most cloud computing technology and providers, and the ability to form those clouds to fit enterprise goals or needs.

Cloud architecture candidates should have enterprise architecture and/or service-oriented architecture experience, with some knowledge of the proper use of cloud computing technology. Salaries range from $100,000 to $200,000 annually, depending on location.

What you need to land that hot, new cloud job

With the rise of cloud-related jobs comes the rise of cloud certification programs. Larger cloud computing technology providers and vendors, such as IBM and Microsoft, as well as independent training organizations such as Cloud School and Learning Tree, typically offer these programs. Top cloud certification programs include:

As you may expect, technology providers tend focus on their own products. However, they do provide the basics around cloud computing architectures. If you are someone that learns through this type of training and needs that piece of paper, then these cloud certification programs might work for you.

Amazon cloud jobs

The majority of IT pros working in specific cloud positions either learned on the job or are self-taught. That may change as these types of programs become more popular, and employers require the certifications.

While cloud administrators can find what they need in the way of certifications, those looking for cloud architecture skills may be disappointed. General cloud computing courses typically focus on the very basics -- the difference between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS -- not on gory details, such as different approaches to building multi-tenant architecture, identity-based security and application programming interface design.

While most architects in the world of cloud computing also typically acquire their skills on the job, that could change as the certification programs become more comprehensive in the coming years.

Investing in cloud computing skills and knowledge seems to be a good bet today -- and a wise career move. While many IT admins will seek cloud skills and knowledge through training and certification programs, the reality is cloud computing is moving too fast for those programs to keep up.

About the author:
David (Dave) S. Linthicum is the CTO and founder of Blue Mountain Labs, an internationally recognized industry expert and thought leader, and the author and co-author of 13 books on computing, including the best-selling Enterprise Application Integration. Dave keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, enterprise application integration and enterprise architecture.

His latest book is Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise, a Step-by-Step Guide. Dave's industry experience includes tenures as CTO and CEO of several successful software companies and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.

This was first published in February 2013

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It's more than an IT job -- it's a cloud career

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