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How to begin your cloud career in 2022: First steps and FAQs

Want to start a career in cloud but not sure where to begin? Here are some commonly asked questions from learners taking first steps toward a cloud career.

Jun 08, 2023 • 11 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Learning & Development

In this post, we'll cover some frequently asked questions from learners looking to start or advance in their cloud career with actionable tips on starting your cloud journey and making certifications work for you.

It's 2022, which for many means coming back from a holiday break fully recharged with fresh hatred for your crappy job. Why not resolve to level up (and love) your career in 2022 by picking up some in-demand cloud skills and jump-starting your cloud career? We can help!

Training Architects Lars Klint, Scott Pletcher, and Mattias Andersson contributed to this post. Any errors are most likely on the part of the editor. (Sorry!)

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A Cloud Guru makes it easy (and awesome) to level up your cloud career — even if you're totally new to tech. Check out ACG’s current free courses or get started now with a free trial.

How can you use certifications or cloud training to get a job?

When it comes to positioning what you've learned from ACG or certifications to pitch yourself to a prospective employer, you'll want to custom-tailor your resume or CV to the specific position you're applying to.

Certifications matter and there's a great value in cloud certifications. But you have to use them right.

Don't just list your certifications — complement them with your portfolio. A certification is an important screening filter, but any candidate who has put their certification to work and created a living portfolio will have a clear advantage over the competition.

How can you build up your cloud engineering portfolio?

The Cloud Resume Challenge and the #CloudGuruChallenges we run on a regular basis can serve as excellent sample projects. Take what you've learned in your certifications and put it into practice to create a concrete deliverable. Not only will you be demonstrating your skills, but you'll learn even more along the way.

If you're looking for smaller projects to try, get your hands cloud with our hands-on labs. Or check out this post on 10 fun hands-on AWS projects you can do to pick up some basic cloud skills.

How do I know which certifications to start with?

It can feel like alphabet soup with all the confusing jumble of letters and levels around certifications when you're just starting out. To help you get over this initial hurdle, we've got the following guides around certifications for the major three cloud providers:

All you have to do is first choose a cloud. This can be either based on the company you're working with (or applying for) and/or your personal preference.

Do cloud certifications require development experience?

The short answer is, no, cloud certifications don't require dev experience.

If you like networks, storage, and managing data, you don't really need a lot of development experience.

However, a knowledge of scripting plus a healthy DevOps curiosity will go a long way. But you don't need to have a bunch of experience programming, writing applications, or making web and mobile apps or backend services to be able to succeed with cloud.

When it comes to code, instead of just blindly copying code over, take some time to explore its functionality and ask questions on Discord.

Are there free projects for learning cloud skills?

All three major cloud providers offer a free entry tier. If you're using ACG to learn, our instructors try to create projects using things you can do on the free tier whenever possible. You can also get credits to use to test out services that aren't free.

If you're on the A Cloud Guru platform doing hands-on labs or using the Cloud Playground environment, there aren't costs associated. There are sandboxed — they're a safe space to test things out. You can also take advantage of a variety of serverless services and build event-driven static sites with API backends. The only costs you may incur are those for the domain name and DNS hosting.

For free or low-cost projects, the Cloud Resume Challenge and #CloudGuruChallenges are a great place to start.

You can also sign up for ACG's free tier (no credit card needed) to get free access to a rotating roster of free cloud learning. Here's what's free at ACG this month.

Can I make a mid-career transition into the cloud?

Do it! You're not going to feel like you're too old or out of place — because you're not alone. There are tons of people in your same situation. The right training for beginners will help you take your existing industry experience and draw parallels to help you learn cloud effectively.

There's often a lot of self doubt around mid-career change and concern that people transitioning won't have the requisite amount of technical depth. There's always the chance that you may find yourself at a slight temporary technical disadvantage, but one of the advantages of not having all that technical depth and experience is that you don't have as much to unlearn, which can be a serious stumbling block.

One of the biggest obstacles I've seen to peoples' own success is their stubbornness and unwillingness to move past what used to work and upgrade to what works now in a world where the tools are constantly evolving. The core skill in all of technology is your ability to learn. Being able to jump in and learn with curiosity and open-mindedness is a real advantage.

To become a cloud engineer, do you need to know AWS, Azure, and GCP?

Lars takes this one. "Well, I only know one cloud — I'll freely admit that! I started out with Azure when it was brand new, so I've been part of the Azure crowd for 12 years now, and I've been very happy. There have been lots of opportunities. If you have the passion to learn more than one, definitely go for it. But, if you prefer to just learn one cloud, know that it's been perfectly enough for me."

Does it matter which cloud platform I start with?

What are you trying to achieve? That's the mindset to start with. That's why we're talking about certifications — not because the certifications themselves matter but because what you're able to do afterwards matters. For example, if you're working in an organization that's using Azure and you want to be successful and move up in that organization, it's pretty clear you should learn Azure.

Could you benefit from learning other clouds? Sure. Often when you learn multiple clouds you learn each of them even better than the first because you're able to parse out their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Check out the Cloud Provider Comparisons series for a sense of how each cloud stacks up.

Are there roles that require multi-cloud?

Scott says, "I believe intentionally going multi-cloud has more drawbacks than advantages, but many companies find themselves in this scenario through acquisition, merger, or possibly a decentralized technology group that is now trying to centralize. If you find yourself in the position of working with one of these companies, know that if you've learned one cloud, learning the next won't be that difficult.""

Our Cloud Comparisons will take you through the different terminologies inherent to each cloud.

We also have a Multi-Cloud Challenge where Scott challenges learners to build an image-recognition application using no fewer than three different clouds. This challenge is evergreen, so try it out (and hit Scott up on Twitter for a multi-cloud prowess endorsement on LinkedIn).

Should I become a cloud architect?

Many people are curious about how to become a cloud architect. Why? Because the cloud architect is seen as the end goal and the highest thing you can get to in cloud, it has become very popular. Now, we appreciate an ambitious goal as much as anyone, but in terms of cloud roles, don't always assume that just because the cloud architect is always the expert-level or the level-3 certification that that's where you need to be. It's not necessarily always the best role for everybody.

For example, if you're really passionate about DevOps, why would you go and try to be a cloud architect?

The other thing is a cloud architect has often grown into that role with career progression over a decade or so. So, becoming a cloud architect is not something you can really achieve with certification alone. While the certifications prove you know a skill set within that cloud, they don't mean you have actual experience implementing these concepts in the real world.

Adding to your skill set is valuable, but you fundamentally need to be real-world suited to the complete role that you need to execute, and cloud architect is never an entry-level role.

Understanding how systems are architected is such a critical and valuable skill for almost everyone to have, which is why I think it's so important to go through the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, for example, just to get that base level of understanding before jumping into the certifications with a narrower scope. That's T-shaped skills in action — both breadth and depth.

What's a typical day in the life of a cloud support engineer and a cloud software developer?

A support engineer for cloud can do so many things: answering tickets, fixing things in a DevOps role, operating in a software management lifecycle type of role.

To see more about being a cloud software developer, check out our So You Want To Be A Cloud Developer video. Our entire So You Want To Be A…series will give you a glimpse into many key cloud roles.

Is it possible for an embedded software engineer who only codes in C and C++ to change careers to cloud?

Yes, yes, and yes! It might not mean that this person is writing C or C++ code for the cloud, but having a background in software development and programming languages does translate.

Do you need networking skills for a role in the cloud?

Networking is a really important thing to know about, but no, you don't need to be an expert in it for most cloud careers.

There are circumstances where networking is important, but in many cases, the services we're using these days treat networking quite differently than they used to. That means the old style of networking isn't always as relevant to newer cloud-native architectures. For example, you don't need a lot of networking knowledge to use a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) environment.

Cloud career resources

Not sure where to begin? We get it. But know that anyone can learn cloud. You can do it! Check out these related resources to get inspired and set your plans for a more awesome career in motion.

Don't see your question answered here? Join our Discord, where you can ask other cloud learners of all skills levels or swing by for office hours with our team of training architects. For more things cloud, follow ACG on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to A Cloud Guru on YouTube.