How to become a cloud engineer (with skills and salaries)

Updated 7 May 2023

Individuals and businesses all over the world use cloud computing on a daily basis. If you want to know how to become a cloud engineer, it's important to find out about the skills and qualifications needed to succeed in a career in cloud computing. A career in cloud engineering can be a challenging and rewarding experience. In this article, we explain what a cloud engineer is and how to gain the skills and knowledge you need to become a cloud engineer.

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How to become a cloud engineer

When researching IT careers, you might be wondering how to become a cloud engineer. Cloud engineers usually come from a background in IT or computer science, as this role requires a great deal of technical knowledge and skill working with both computer hardware and software. Cloud engineering is a relatively new field, which means many existing cloud engineers have transferred into this field from similar careers in computing, development and IT. If you know that cloud engineering is the right career path for you, you can follow these steps to become a cloud engineer:

1. Study for a degree

The vast majority of professional cloud engineers hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, like software engineering. As a cloud engineer, you work with computers on a daily basis and choosing to study a degree in a subject that gives you experience and technical skills in computer engineering gives you the best start in your career. Working hard and aiming for a good grade in your programme results in the most benefit from your degree.

Related: Software engineering vs computer science: the differences you need to know

2. Learn how to program

You may learn some programming during your degree, depending on the degree course you choose to study. Whether or not your degree includes them, learn a few programming languages yourself, particularly languages like Python, JavaScript and C++. Programming skills are essential to your work as a cloud engineer, as is fluency with cloud-based software. You can take courses in programming or simply use online resources to teach yourself programming languages in your spare time.

Related: FAQ: What is JavaScript?

3. Get work experience

Before applying for cloud engineering roles, you may need to gain experience working with computers and software in a professional setting. You can apply for internships during your time at university or volunteer to take part in open-source development projects in your free time. If you already work in an IT-related field, ask for more responsibilities related to cloud computing at work. All the relevant experience you can obtain helps to convince a future employer that you are a capable software engineer.

Related: 6 essential software engineer skills

4. Study for cloud-based certificates

Compared to other computer scientists, cloud engineers must have significant amounts of specialist knowledge of cloud-based software and services. Studying for certificates in cloud computing can help you to prove to potential employers that you know how to work with the systems that they use on a daily basis. Qualifications in cloud systems are available, and you can take many of these on a part-time basis while you work or study.

As part of your further study, you could also apply to study for a Master's degree in systems engineering or a similar field. A Master's degree helps your CV to stand out when you're applying for jobs. Studying courses that include elements of specific cloud computing systems also improves your skills as a cloud engineer.

Related: 10 types of developer certifications (with benefits)

5. Apply for cloud engineering jobs

When you think you have gained all the qualifications and experience necessary to demonstrate to employers that you are a capable and experienced cloud engineer, you can start applying for cloud engineering roles near you. It's important to write a clear CV that's tailored to the roles you're applying for and demonstrates all of the necessary skills you need for the job. Cloud engineering is a competitive industry, so remain optimistic even if you don't get the first job you apply for.

Related: A guide to the 14 best-paying jobs in tech (plus duties)

What is a cloud engineer?

It's important to understand what exactly a cloud engineer is and what responsibilities you may have as a cloud engineer. A cloud engineer is an IT specialist that works with the cloud and associated computing. Cloud engineers work with clients to assess and examine a business's IT infrastructure, streamlining it by moving certain elements to the cloud. As a cloud engineer, you work with private, public and hybrid cloud systems, and you have to make sure you are knowledgeable of the latest developments in cloud computing and software.

As a cloud engineer, you are responsible for carrying out a range of important duties relating to IT hardware, software and the cloud, including:

  • planning and designing cloud infrastructure and cloud-based software solutions for your clients

  • managing a cloud environment and debugging systems

  • working with technical teams and IT specialists to design and implement cloud systems

  • problem-solving issues within the cloud

  • designing and adapting web services to operate within the cloud

  • migrate system data from physical servers to cloud-based servers

  • liaising with clients and explaining IT and cloud computing strategies in simple terms

As a cloud engineer, you usually work closely with companies to deliver tailored cloud-based solutions to improve IT efficiency, cost-effectiveness, security and accessibility within that business' IT framework. You may also be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and running of these cloud-based infrastructures, which involves fixing issues that arise and performing regular maintenance checks. Cloud engineers need intimate knowledge of these infrastructures to maintain them.

Related: What is IT infrastructure? (Components, types and benefits)

Can I become a cloud engineer with experience in another field?

If you have already finished your degree and gained working experience in another field, you could still go on to a successful career as a cloud engineer. Similar roles include software engineer, systems engineer and full-stack developer. Candidates with prior experience in development have many transferable skills that make them ideal for roles in cloud engineering. If you're hoping to transfer from a career in development or similar to cloud engineering, you must ensure you gain relevant knowledge and certifications in cloud computing before applying for roles specialising in the cloud.

Related: What is a full-stack developer? (And how to become one)

What skills do cloud engineers need to demonstrate?

To get a job as a cloud engineer, you need to demonstrate you have the skills to do this job successfully. Many of the skills that you need as a software engineer are technical skills, like programming, but you also need to demonstrate soft skills, including:

  • Teamwork and collaborative skills: so that you can work closely alongside other cloud engineers and with existing in-house IT specialists.

  • Communication skills: to help you explain technical details to your clients in a way that is clear and easily understood.

  • Problem-solving skills: especially when debugging or fixing issues in cloud systems that may not have an obvious cause.

  • Leadership skills: to help you direct a team of cloud engineers and IT specialists when carrying out infrastructure redesigns.

  • Creative thinking: to help you to design innovative and effective cloud-based solutions for a range of clients.

Related: What are cloud engineer skills for CVs? (Plus job info)

What is working as a cloud engineer like?

As a cloud engineer, you're generally employed in a full-time role within an organisation specialising in cloud or software services. You're likely to spend most of your time at work in an office, working on technical projects, but you might also need to travel to client sites. Most of your work takes place during ordinary office hours of 9 am to 5 pm, but you may sometimes have to work evenings and weekends during especially busy times. To be a successful cloud engineer, you need to be comfortable sitting and working at a computer for long hours.

The average cloud engineer salary is £60,579 per year. This figure varies between regions, with cloud engineers in London and the South East often earning more than cloud engineers in the North of England, Scotland and Wales. For example, in London, the average salary for a cloud engineer is £72,985, while in Manchester and Birmingham, the average salary is £54,529 and £55,537, respectively. This drops even lower in Wales, with the average cloud engineer earning £42,562. Your salary has the potential to rise with experience and seniority, making cloud engineering a worthwhile career choice.

Salary figures reflect data on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Related: What it takes to be a cloud developer (with duties)

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