Which cloud engineer certifications should I go for in 2020?

After completing a number of Cloud certifications recently, it got me wondering…if I was starting out on the journey to become a cloud engineer today, which certifications should I go for?

When I was starting out I graduated with a computing degree in networking, and attempted to pursue the CCNA, still the entry level qualification for any networks focused career track. However I completed some classroom training but never took the exams. Instead I gained a few Microsoft qualifications around server and office technologies including exchange, eventually leading to an MSCA and MCSE on windows server, and later the cloud.

Today, the modern cloud engineer has a choice of a multitude of platforms and technologies to consider. Ideally the engineer should have a cloud platform certification, as well as a specialism.

I would recommend focusing on 1 cloud platform to start with, from a choice of the following:

  1. Amazon AWS
  2. Microsoft Azure
  3. Google Cloud
  4. Alibaba
  5. Oracle

I’ve listed these in order of current market share (for example Azure has more market share than Google). Choosing to focus on on of the more popular clouds will mean that there are more companies out there using it, and therefore more jobs available, however there will also be more competition! Choosing a more niche option might make you valuable as less people will choose to focus on it.

Alibaba and Oracle I consider too niche at the moment as their market share is too small. Oracle is a good choice for data professionals however who also have other oracle related certs.

For the reasons listed above, and rather surprisingly, today I would recommend:

Google Cloud!

Google claim they are the fastest growing cloud, something disputed by Azure.

Getting a mid level certification on any of the above platforms is a good start, for a cloud engineer focusing on Azure such as myself, the Architect or Administrator level qualifications are worth aiming for. They are becoming a requirement for most cloud based job descriptions.

The ones listed below are the ones to aim for and most commonly requested:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert

GCloud Professional Cloud Architect

As your career progresses, foundation or mid level knowledge on one or more clouds is very valuable, as well as an expert or professional level certification in your chosen specialist cloud platform, giving you the ability to compare and contrast services, costs and other factors when required. Multi cloud will also make you more attractive to bigger businesses, especially in the financial sector who use more than one cloud, typically for increased resiliency.

Today if I was starting out, for a second cloud qualification, I would focus on:

Microsoft Azure!

Any entry level qualification as your second cloud specialism once you are comfortable with the first is a big plus, choose from:

AWS Certified : Practitioner

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

GCloud Associate Cloud Engineer

As well as having the certifications above, a specialism will set you apart from the rest of the field. Some may tie in better to your choice of cloud so that is something to keep in mind when choosing.

You should go for a specialism in your area of interest, actually being interested in a subject will make you much more likely to learn, enjoy and see it through to take the certification (maybe the mistake I made at the start of my career going for the CCNA which I found hard going!).

The modern multi-cloud engineer should be focused on infrastructure, DevSecOps, and enterprise architecture.

I’ve listed a few qualifications I would consider if I was starting out today below:

Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation
Docker Certified Associate
HashiCorp Certified: Terraform Associate
HashiCorp Certified: Vault Associate

Importantly there are a lot more skills not covered here that are really in demand at the moment and extremely useful for the modern cloud engineer, but do not have relevant certifications or are not appropriate for certification e.g. Programming skills in Python or GO, scripting skills in PowerShell or Bash, or Kubernetes mastery etc.

I’ve picked the most useful and valuable as I see it in my day-to-day role:

HashiCorp Certified: Terraform Associate

This is because I largely follow the DevOps track in my career, I see this as the most valuable route for the future. Terraform is also cloud agnostic, a great option if you intend to become a true multi-cloud engineer. It is also a very cheap option and can be achieved with a few months of experience and learning. Docker and Ansible are also very desirable and will give you an excellent niche advantage over other job candidates.

The ISC and TOGAF qualifications listed below are security and enterprise architecture focused qualifications and are much, much more expensive to complete, however if you get the chance these would be a fantastic start on your journey to working in large enterprise environments. They are typically not a good place to start however as they will require real world experience.

ISC Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
ISC Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
TOGAF 9 Certified Exam
TOGAF 9 Foundation Exam

Thanks for reading! Let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments below or on LinkedIn!

Originally published at https://azurelynot.blogspot.com on September 2, 2020.

A blog focused on all things Cloud and DevOps. Specialising in Azure & Terraform!