If one thing is certain in IT, it’s never too late to cash in on the cloud. As the cloud becomes more critical to IT and the business at large, demand for cloud skills will only grow.
But proving you have the right skills and knowledge in a competitive job market can be difficult. If you’re looking for an extra edge in landing a new job or promotion, cloud certification can be a great option.
Certifications measure knowledge and skills against industry benchmarks to help you prove to employers that you have the right mix of cloud skills, knowledge, and expertise.
If you’re looking for more general, across-the-board knowledge, a vendor-neutral certification can provide a broad overview of key concepts and foundational expertise.
If you’re looking to specialise, whether in your current job or because you’re angling to land a new role, consider specialising in one or more vendor-specific certifications, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or VMware.
No matter which direction you choose, cloud certifications are sure to take your career to the next level.
Here’s our round-up of the most sought after cloud computing certifications you should consider:
AWS Certified Solutions Architect
AWS certifications recognise IT professionals that possess the skills and technical knowledge necessary for designing, deploying, and operating applications and infrastructure on AWS.
There are associate and professional level certifications aimed at architects, developers, and operations professionals, as well as specialty certs in big data and advanced networking.
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate requires one or more years of hands-on experience designing with AWS, while the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional builds on that cert with two years of hands-on experience.
How to prepare: Amazon offers study materials, practice exams and introductory, advanced and specialised courses and training on its website.
Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge
The mother of all cloud computing security certifications, the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge certification is vendor-neutral and certifies competency in key cloud security areas.
The test is based on the Cloud Security Alliance’s “Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing v3” and the ENISA’s “Cloud Computing Risk Assessment.”
Organisation: Cloud Security Alliance
How to prepare: The best way to prepare is to study the CSA’s Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing v3, and the ENISA report “Cloud Computing Risks Assessment".
Certified OpenStack Administrator
OpenStack software controls compute, storage and networking resources throughout a datacenter, and is compatible with many popular enterprise and open source technologies.
OpenStack’s Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) certification is the foundation’s first professional certification, and it tests an individual’s ability to provide operations and management of an OpenStack public or private cloud. Candidates should have at least six months of experience in a OpenStack-related role, and should be familiar with the core compute, storage and networking services.
Organisation: OpenStack Foundation
How to Prepare: Candidates should have at least six months of on-the-job experience and can review OpenStack’s breakdown of specific content areas, tasks and skills that may be included on the exam.
Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack
Red Hat’s certification for System Administrators in Red Hat OpenStack measures professionals’ ability to design, build, deploy and manage private clouds based on the Red Hat OpenStack platform.
IT pros with this certification can install and configure Red Hat OpenStack, manage users and projects, and manage storage using Swift and Cinder.
Organisation: Red Hat
How to prepare: Red Hat says the best way to prepare for the exam is hands-on, real-world experience. The exam is also a live, real-world test of skills and competency, requiring candidates to perform tasks on a live system.
Cisco’s CCNA Cloud certification is a job-role-focused certification and training program that helps cloud engineers, cloud administrators, and network engineers develop, advance and validate their cloud skill set, and enables them to help their IT organisation meet changing business demands from technology transitions, according to Cisco.
How to prepare: While there are no prerequisites to take the exam, Cisco recommends the Understanding Cisco Cloud Fundamentals and Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration self-study courses, and offers a CCNA Cloud Study Group.
Cloud Certified Professional
CloudSchool.com offers a number of vendor-neutral cloud certifications, each based on a one-day course module and aimed at competency in specific areas of cloud computing. There are certificates for Cloud Architects, Cloud Technology Professionals, Cloud Governance, and Cloud Security, among others.
How to prepare: Cloud School offers self-study kits as well as on-site and remote workshops and study sessions and instructor-led workshops to help prepare applicants for the exams.
Cloud Credential Council
The Cloud Credential Council (CCC) is an international body that drives standards training and certification for cloud computing pros.
The CCC is independent and vendor-neutral, and members come from the public sector and academic institutions, cloud providers, cloud consumers, cloud brokers, professional associations and international certification bodies from across the world.
The certifications are geared toward cloud consumers, cloud vendors or cloud solutions and services providers who want to improve their skills in defining, choosing, building, operating and managing cloud services.
Currently, CCC offers one Cloud Technology Associate certification and five Professional Level cloud certifications, ranging from the Professional Cloud Administrator to the Professional Cloud Solutions Architect.
Organisation: Cloud Credential Council
How to prepare: The Cloud Credential Council offers courses and preparation material on its website.
Cloud Genius offers certifications in Cloud Technologies, Cloud DevOps, and Cloud Architecture and Design. The bootcamp-based program is heavily focused on hands-on experiential learning.
The coursework requires twice-weekly on-campus attendance, as well as team collaboration on real-life projects. The program also offers a solid foundation in cloud technologies, modern devops practices and some basic programming in Ruby and Chef.
Organisation: Cloud Genius
How to prepare: Each certificate requires, at minimum, 24 classroom hours (3 hours, twice a week for four weeks). In addition, the program directors suggest devoting additional time to view video lectures, working on group projects and practicing materials you've learned.
Cloud Institute Certifications
The Cloud Institute Certification program is based on the findings and recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is geared toward greater and faster cloud adoption in government and public service verticals.
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