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Cloud journeys: Learning cloud without a technical background

Cloud engineers and AWS experts share career advice and actionable tips for learning cloud computing without a technology background.

Mar 20, 2024 • 7 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Learning & Development
  • Professional Development

Pluralsight is proud to support the growing community of cloud gurus by sponsoring the Cloud Career Journeys book by Prasad Rao and Ashish Prajapati.

The cloud is vast. Whether you want to dive into the cloud or already have a cloud career and want to achieve greater heights, your destination may feel out of reach. 

Enter Cloud Career Journeys. This blog series explores six cloud career starting points, from tech newbies to established cloud experts. 

In our first post of the series, we focus on the Pathfinders—people who began cloud careers with no technical background. 

You’ll get career advice, actionable tips, and insights from Pathfinders Daniel Gaina, Senior Cloud Engineer and AWS Community Builder; Ifeanyichukwu (Ifeanyi) Otuonye, Cloud Engineer and AWS Community Builder; and Eric Johnson, Principal Developer Advocate at AWS.

Want more insights? Purchase the book to learn more about their stories and receive a free one-month Pluralsight Skills Premium subscription.

Table of contents

Pathfinders: Beginning a cloud career without a technology background

If you want to get into cloud computing but don’t have any technical background, you’re a Pathfinder. You’ve picked up a map and sort of have a destination in mind, but you aren’t quite sure how to get there. And while you may not have a technical background, you have transferable skills from other experiences that can help you along your journey. 

Advice for Pathfinders: What to know before you learn cloud

If you’re a Pathfinder, we have some advice.

Explore your options and find a cloud computing passion

If you’re considering a cloud career, explore your options. Learn about different cloud roles, platforms, and skill sets. Try different learning styles or methods. 

“A lot of people always say you need passion to get into tech,” says Ifeanyi. “I really don’t see it that way. I think you just need an interest, and once you dive into it, and it’s interesting, and you hit roadblocks, it’s doing that process where your passion builds.”

Once you settle on a direction, be mindful of your limited learning time. It can be tempting to try to learn every cloud platform or skill, but stick to the ones that will help you reach your current goal. You can always learn more later—don’t overwhelm yourself at the start.

Check out Ifeanyi's video interview.

Create a long-term tech learning plan

Working towards a cloud career is a journey, not a sprint. To reach your goals, you’ll need a long-term plan and a healthy amount of perseverance. 

You’re learning something new. There will be times when you fail or experience setbacks. It’s natural to feel disappointed or frustrated, but try not to fall into despair. Aim for progression, not perfection. 

“When you hit the wall, you learn. You figure out how to get around the wall, get over the wall, and break down the wall,” says Eric.

Find people with cloud careers and expand your network

If you’re struggling to define goals for your cloud journey, find people who have the job you want. Connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on other social media channels. By understanding their expertise, you’ll learn the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in a similar position.

Some people may even be willing to talk with you about their experience and what they did to reach that position. They can also tell you more about the role itself and the parts behind the scenes that you won’t find in job descriptions.

“Without the cloud community, I would not be here,” shares Ifeanyi. “These were the people who were mentoring me from afar and didn’t even know who I was. . . . I got mentorship from people in those communities. I got advice from them. I got ideas from them. And these are the people who inspired me and motivated me even though they didn’t directly touch me.”

Action: How to start learning cloud computing

Take these actions on your cloud journey to drive meaningful progress.

Set a career goal and limit distractions

Set a tangible goal and write down the steps you need to get there. Maybe it’s landing a certain job, earning a certification, or mastering a cloud tool. Keep an eye on the latest tech developments but don’t switch gears until you achieve your current goal.

“Map out your path,” advises Daniel. “Have a look at what are the requirements that you need in terms of skills, in terms of certifications, what positions you want to achieve. If you have a well-written plan, it will definitely put you up to success and you will accelerate your cloud computing career.”

Watch Daniel's interview.

Leverage your transferable skills

Technical roles require more than technical skills, and your experience in areas besides cloud can actually give you an advantage.

“When we talk about IT careers, I feel people concentrate only on their technical skills, and it’s not like that. I feel like they should bring to the table everything that they have,” shares Daniel. “Have strong ethics and a continuous learning mindset.”

Share your learning journey and cloud knowledge

When you learn a new concept or skill, share that knowledge with other learners on LinkedIn, YouTube, or another channel. Teaching will force you to think about the concept on a deeper level and ensure you truly understand the material. You’ll also show potential future employers that you’re serious about learning cloud computing. 

“You being able to share is so impactful to the larger community of others who are also trying to come up and be a cloud engineer, even those who have many years of experience, because there’s always something for us to learn,” says Ifeanyi. 

“When I started posting my project, I was thinking, ‘Ah, these are too easy. Nobody’s going to care about this.’ I didn’t realize the amount of people who were actually following and saying, ‘This is so good. I’m gonna try and do this.’ As simple as you think it is, there’s always someone who can relate and resonate with the project.” 

Learn how Caitlin Carpenter used her transferable skills as a teacher to inspire others and learn data science. 

Alerts: Avoid tech training pitfalls when learning cloud

Alerts are warning signs. Avoid these common mistakes to maintain your momentum as you learn cloud computing.

Get hands-on cloud experience

Memorization is undoubtedly part of the learning process. But applying your learning to real-world scenarios and gaining hands-on experience will deepen your understanding and enhance your retention. 

“My biggest tip is build,” says Eric. “You find out what you need to know and don’t need to know as you’re building. . . . Sometimes you do need to read to understand concepts, but the minute you have some concepts, like an API or event-driven architecture or step functions or things like that, then start building. If you don’t get your hands dirty, you won’t retain it. You won’t learn it.”

Watch Eric's video interview.

“The number one thing that keeps me progressing is doing hands-on projects,” says Ifeayni. “I’m like, ‘Okay, this month, I’m going to do this project and then I’m going to document it. I’m going to post it on Medium.’ This is for me to remember six months from now what I did and then also to help the community.”

Don’t neglect cloud certifications

Certifications give you a way to learn and apply cloud concepts. 

“[Badges and certifications] say, ‘Hey, I’ve learned how to do that,’” explains Eric. “So, number one, that makes you valuable to possible jobs. Two, that really builds your repertoire of concepts.

“I think what customers, especially nowadays, or companies are looking for is ‘What’s the best way to build this?’” If you understand the concepts across these different things, and you have the ability to go, ‘Because you’re doing A, this is the best way to do it,’ [you’ll succeed].”

Understand the challenges of learning cloud computing

Getting certified doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get a job. It can take time to get job interviews or offers. Don’t get discouraged—keep applying, learning, and expanding your skillset. 

“I failed the first [Solutions Architect certification] I got, but that didn’t stop me,” says Daniel. “I felt like, you know, I definitely need to push harder to learn more, and then I passed it.”

Check out these seven ways to jumpstart your cloud computing career.

Cloud computing for beginners: How to get started

The main takeaway? Cloud careers are open to everyone, regardless of your technology background (or lack thereof). 

Daniel, Ifeanyi, and Eric are proof that you don’t need a university degree or a technical background to jump into cloud. Want to hear their full stories? Get the Cloud Career Journeys book and get a FREE one-month Pluralsight Skills Premium subscription worth $45 to kick-start your cloud career.

You'll also get a discount if you purchase the ebook or Starter Kit on Gumroad.

Not a Pathfinder? Explore the other blog posts in this series as we dive into more cloud careers:

Pluralsight Content Team

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