Cloud Certifications: A Differentiating Factor in the Tech Industry

Cloud computing technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and the depth of product offerings across vendors continues to grow with it. Increased internet access, reduced costs, new technology and a pandemic-driven digitization of many services have accelerated the adoption of cloud technology, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, a recent report from Gartner predicted that the cloud will make up 14% of all global enterprise IT spending in 2024 — a 9% increase from 2020.

Cloud computing is one of the most sought after fields in IT right now, so how can you make your resume standout? Whether you’re a network professional looking to advance your career or a student who’s just getting started, a cloud certification has the power to unlock the door to a plethora of employment opportunities at higher salaries in a career field that can sometimes feel “recession proof” due to the importance of the cloud in day-to-day business.

Cloud Certifications: What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

At its core, a cloud certification is a public demonstration of fundamental knowledge that allows you to showcase an understanding of cloud services and an ability to help an organization achieve business objectives with those services. Not only does a certification show that you know how to work with the “raw materials” of cloud services, but it also communicates that you have a starting point to build specific solutions in that space, even if you don’t work with specific cloud technologies on a daily basis. Simply put, having experience with or knowledge of cloud computing technologies without a certification is super helpful, but can make it harder to get hired or promoted.

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Taking the Plunge

The best way to get started is to just get started. Seriously, do your research on which certifications are relevant to your current or dream job and dive in. There are tons of great resources that offer thorough content and prep for the major certifications. I highly recommend starting with LinkedIn Learning — you can also take advantage of the platform’s free trial. If you’re a student, there are several free resources to help you get started, such as AWS Educate, Google Cloud for Students, Azure for Students and HashiCorp Learn.

I strongly suggest looking into workshops offered through local developer or InfoSec conferences, like CodePaLouSa, BSides or Hacks & Hops. This route can often prove more beneficial than the days or weeks spent in an online learning management system, especially if you’re new to the cloud security space. Why? These workshops are hands-on, compressed to a day or two, and you have an opportunity to make connections and network with other people.

The first time I provisioned cloud resources was during a one-day workshop ahead of DerbyCon 2016 — the “Tactical Sec Op: Cloud Edition – AWS” hosted by SecureIdeas was essential in boosting my cloud confidence and giving me practical experience. And the best part? I earned a certificate that never expires. There are also great training and certification programs at big industry conferences, such as HIMSS and DEF CON, as well as vendor conferences, like AWS re:Invent.

How Can You Determine Which Certification Is Best for You?

There are a few giants in the tech industry that are paving the way to certification, including Microsoft, AWS, and Google. And as cloud computing continues to become more mainstream, many other providers have come to play — so how do you determine which certification best suits you? According to the 2022 IT Salary report from Robert Half, these three certifications have been in demand recently, and here’s why:

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner: This entry-level exam allows cloud professionals to validate their knowledge of the cloud, specifically using Amazon Web Services. With this certification, you can prove your knowledge of the fundamentals of IT services and how they function in the AWS Cloud Platform, as well as your knowledge of core AWS services, use cases, billing and pricing models, security concepts and how cloud impacts business decisions.
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional: Offered through the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification is designed for those working with cloud technology, including enterprise architects, security administrators, systems engineers, security architects, systems architects, consultants, engineers, and managers. It demonstrates knowledge when designing, managing, and securing data, applications and infrastructure in the cloud.
  • Certified Data Professional: Available through the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals, Certified Data Professional (CDP) certification candidates can choose from a range of domains, including business or data analytics, IT management, enterprise data architecture and more. Not to mention, the CDP is offered at various levels, starting with foundation, and ending with executive management.
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Whatever your reason, certifications are a great way to strengthen your resume and set yourself apart from the competition. Hands-on experience may speak louder than a certification alone, but a certification can be useful in indicating your abilities to hiring managers and help you gain experience where you might be lacking. Every time you walk into an interview, it’s safe to say your potential employer will be able to judge you in a span of about 10 minutes. A cloud computing certification on your resume could help you make a positive impression before you even walk through the door.