The 4 Steps to Becoming a Cloud Architect

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  • Cloud architects design and build cloud environments, manage numerous aspects of cloud computing and infrastructure and coordinate cloud architecture with various companies. 
  • Skilled cloud architects have a knowledge of programming languages, telecommunication systems and API management systems.
  • To become a cloud architect, get your degree or some technical training, get on-the-job experience and get your certification.

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Cloud computing has already helped some of the biggest companies of our time (I’m looking at you, Netflix) and its influence continues to grow. Cloud computing can help companies get the resources they need more efficiently and at a lower cost; it also gives companies access to communication tools, chatbots and even productivity tools. But before these companies can make the most of cloud computing, they’ll need a cloud architect to help them out. If you’re looking to be on the forefront of cloud computing technology, here’s how to become a cloud architect.

What does a cloud architect do?

Cloud architects design and build cloud environments. They manage numerous aspects of cloud computing and infrastructure, from front-end platforms to networks for cloud storage. They develop cloud architecture and coordinate it with various companies. This means that cloud architects work both the technical and business sides of cloud computing.

On the technical side, they design cloud environments with a development team. First, they see what systems are needed, what vendors they’ll work with and what parts they’ll get from different suppliers. Then, they’ll work with developers to ensure that the technology fits the initial requirements of the project. Cloud architects will continue to integrate and repair the project in its later stages.
Because cloud architects work with a variety of companies, they have to navigate the different cloud needs all of each client. They need to know the specifics of what each company needs, and how each function can assist them or fulfill their requirements. Cloud architects consistently research new technologies to stay updated and on top of all developing cloud computing services.

4 steps to becoming a cloud architect

1. Get your degree — or some technical training.

Because cloud architecture is rooted in software and development, you’ll need a lot of hard and technical skills to succeed as a cloud architect. The best way to get started is by learning computer science skills, whether that’s in a formal degree program or by taking courses or workshops online. Getting an undergraduate degree in computer science will help you get started, but attending a master’s program specializing in cloud computing will help prepare you for the unique challenges of the profession.

2. Get on-the-job experience.

A cloud architect isn’t an entry level position. Instead, it’s usually a middle to late stage transition in someone’s career. Before you become a cloud architect, it’s useful to have experience in information technology (IT) services. Working a technical contributor or technical expert will help improve your hard skills before transitioning into cloud architecture. Working as a team leader or manager can help develop your decision-making and team management skills, which you’ll use cloud architecture development and during the business side of things.

3. Get certified.

Now that you’ve got the technical skills, your next step is boosting your resume with a certification. There are multiple certifications to choose from, so you’ll need to decide what kind of platform you prefer. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most popular cloud services in the industry. This certification validates your ability to design and deploy systems on the AWS platform. 
Microsoft Azure certification ensures your expertise in Azure computing, networking, storage and security. You’ll need to pass two exams for this certification: one on specific Azure technologies, and one on design. 
Google and IBM Cloud certifications work similarly to the AWS certification. Google certification covers cloud architecture design, planning and management, as well as security, compliance analysis and optimization. IBM certification also focuses on design, planning and management of cloud computing infrastructure. There are over 10 top cloud certifications, so make sure to do your research to get your certification for the one you prefer most.

4. Start the job search!

Now that you’re trained, experienced and certified, it’s time to look for the job of your dreams. What kind of cloud architecture you get into depends heavily on your certification. Each certification leads to different companies. For example, AWS services General Electric, Weather Company, Expedia and Netflix. Microsoft Azure provides for Adobe, Apple iCloud, Ebay, the NFL and NBC, just to name a few. Even within your specific certification, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Cloud architect skills

Becoming a cloud architect requires extensive training and skills, but they’re not all technical. To master both the technical and business sides of cloud architecture — as well as the leadership you’ll need to manage your team — here are the skills you’ll need.

Hard skills:

  • Knowledge of programming languages
  • Background (and technical skills) in enterprise computing
  • Knowledge of telecommunication systems
  • Knowledge of caching, queuing, network and security systems
  • Knowledge of application program interface (API) management systems

Soft skills:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Business sense

How much money does a cloud architect make?

Cloud architects join the ranks of IT architects who often hold senior positions and earn over six figures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cloud architects made $109,020 per year in 2018. Ziprecuiter and Payscale both estimate a higher average salary, totaling at $153,317 and $128,418, respectively. As cloud computing and technology grows, the demand for cloud architects is only expected to grow.
Cloud architects are integral to the developing world of cloud computing. They help companies get the resources they need efficiently and effectively, usually at a much loser cost. If you’re an experienced technical expert with leadership and business skills, or a student interested in informational technology services looking for a unique, exciting career, becoming a cloud architect might be the right choice for you.
Zoë Kaplan is an English major at Wesleyan University in the class of 2020. She writes about women, theater, sports, and everything in between. Read more of Zoë’s work at