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How To Become a Cloud Architect
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Designing the Future: How To Become a Cloud Architect

12 minute read | October 3, 2023
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta & reviewed by Akita Emmanuel

Sakshi Gupta

Reviewed by:
Akita Emmanuel

Ready to launch your career?

With a growing number of businesses migrating towards cloud computing solutions, there’s never been a greater demand for cloud architects, and it’s very likely (if not inevitable) that that demand is going to continue to grow. Cloud architects build cloud systems for businesses of all sizes, tailoring cloud solutions to the needs of any business. Think of cloud architects as the 21st-century version of an IT specialist. Whereas businesses used to rely upon in-person servers, cloud architects build digital systems that have replaced this.

The career prospects for a cloud architect are strong. Not only is there always going to be a need for cloud architects, but it’s also true that entry-level cloud architecture jobs average north of six figures.

The main hurdle with becoming a cloud architect is that the career path towards this role can seem unclear, as there are no degrees in cloud architecture. Fear not—follow this guide, and you’ll know how to become a cloud architect in no time.

What Does a Cloud Architect Do?

Cloud architects are professionals who have an in-depth knowledge of setting up cloud environments, assessing an organization’s cloud infrastructure needs based on business objectives, and coming up with cloud solutions based on those requirements.

On a day-to-day basis, a cloud architect’s job involves tracking the status of the overall cloud infrastructure of an organization and providing technical assistance to install new software or carry out maintenance. It is their job to go over the requirements of each project and come up with a concomitant cloud structure to support that project. Carrying out migrations and overseeing cloud security is also part of their responsibilities.

There are three main areas of focus for cloud architects working with a client to create their cloud service models:

  • Front-end interface: These include all parts of the cloud systems that clients can view and interact with. This software allows them to access the cloud and manipulate the data in it. 
  • Back-end components: These are the parts of the cloud software that clients cannot view. This includes servers, virtual machines, network devices, and other components that allow cloud applications to work in the way that they do. 
  • Data delivery models: There are different cloud service models that vendors create to allow cloud computing resources to be accessed. Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) are a couple of examples of popular delivery models in this space.

How To Become a Cloud Architect: An 8-Step Guide

The cloud architect’s role is an important one in any organization, as they’re responsible for making it possible for different stakeholders to easily use a cloud computing service. Let’s take a look at how you can create a successful career in cloud architecture.

  1. Invest in Education

  2. Pursue a Junior Role

  3. Climb the Career Ladder

  4. Build and Hone Your Skillset

  5. Pursue Certifications

  6. Find a Mentor

  7. Keep Learning and Stay Up to Date on Industry Trends

  8. Start Applying to Cloud Architect Positions

Invest in Education

Becoming a cloud architect begins with basic skill acquisition. Doing this will ensure that you’ve created a strong foundation on which to build a career.

You have a few options when it comes to modes of education. There is, of course, the option of doing a conventional college degree. At the undergraduate level, a degree in computer science or IT is relevant to the role. There are now colleges that offer specialized degrees in cloud computing, so that’s something you can consider.

College degrees, although exhaustive, can also be costly and time-consuming. For those who don’t have that kind of money or time to spare, a bootcamp is a great option. Bootcamps are both more affordable than college, and they take less time. These are accelerated courses that take you from beginner to job-ready. A software engineering bootcamp can help you lay the groundwork for a long career in cloud architecture. 

For those of you out there who are autodidacts, the self-learning mode is also a viable option. There are reams of material out there on the internet for those who want to teach themselves how to build cloud-based solutions. You can choose between YouTube videos, blogs, paid courses, or a mix of all of those when creating a curriculum for yourself.

If you do go down the self-styled learning path, it’s important to remember that applying your cloud architecture skills is important. So you should spend some time building and documenting your own cloud computing or architecture projects. This is something that you’ll be required to do if you attend a bootcamp.

Pursue a Junior Role

If you play your cards right, you can manage to land yourself an entry-level position that can later lead to a cloud architect position. If you’re looking to eventually become a cloud architect, look for junior roles that involve working on some specific part of your organization’s cloud technologies stack. This is often done under the supervision of a more seasoned cloud architecture professional.

Here are a few things to look for in a role that’ll eventually help you become a cloud architect: 

  • Monitoring, troubleshooting, and creating reports on different aspects of the cloud infrastructure
  • Setting up specific tools like Google Cloud Platform, AWS Cloud, Azure Cloud, etc. 
  • Assessing any new business requirements and mapping them to increased cloud storage or infrastructure demands
  • Working with network architects and other network architecture professionals to set up and maintain cloud network infrastructure
  • Collaborating with colleagues with cloud computing expertise to execute projects that are large in scope

Climb the Career Ladder

An entry-level job in cloud architecture is only the first step in your career. At this stage, you will work on specific aspects of an organization’s cloud infrastructure, such as storage or security.

In order to progress from a junior to a more senior role, you should have a strong understanding of working with at least one cloud service provider, such as AWS. Possessing skills in network administration can also be a huge boost to your profile.

Once you gain some job experience, you should keep a lookout for job profiles that are a step up from your own. The job hunt process might be tedious, but you should be able to do it every few years so that you can grow in your career.

You can, of course, also get promoted within your company. But if you’re not able to grow within your organization, you should try to make upward moves by interviewing with other companies.

It is possible to arrive at the cloud architect role from various different paths. Software engineers, DevOps engineers, and network security engineers all possess skills that are relevant to cloud architecture. If you come from one of these backgrounds, you’ll be able to quickly understand cloud computing systems and land an entry-level job.

After three to five years as a junior cloud architect, you can move on to the senior architect role. This is a stage at which you will be given greater responsibility for large parts of the cloud computing systems in your organization.

Companies require cloud architects to possess a wide range of skills in order to progress to more senior roles. Working with databases becomes a requirement at this stage, and you should be proficient with technologies like SQL. Experience with project management and tools like Kubernetes for deployment and management can also come in handy.

Once you gain a few years of experience as a senior cloud architect, you have two choices. The first is to move into management. This will allow you to take on a leadership role and oversee project delivery. The other is to stay on the technical side of things and explore roles like VP of cloud operations.

Build and Hone Your Skillset

The process of staying updated as a technical professional is a never-ending one, and this is especially true for cloud architects, given how dynamic of a field this is. Here are a few skills that you need to focus on adding to your arsenal so that you can stay competitive in the cloud architect job role.

Technical Skills

Master these technical skills to launch your career:

Operating Systems

You will find yourself dealing with computers that run various operating systems in your job as a cloud architect. You should be able to use these different systems and set up cloud-based applications on them. At the very least, you should be well-versed with the Windows and Linux operating system environments.

Basic Cybersecurity 

Cybersecurity is needed in all technical domains. When an organization runs its operations on the cloud, there is going to be a lot of sensitive data interchanged during that process. As a cloud architect, you should have a basic understanding of how to secure data-intensive applications and create frameworks to enable cloud security.

Programming

Programming languages are often used to build or automate different cloud-based tools. Cloud architects will also find themselves interacting with programmers as part of their job. You should be able to work with developers and have a basic understanding of a programming language like Python, Java, or C++. 

Networks

Networking knowledge is essential for cloud architects. A lot of your job will involve configuring network ports and setting up wireless and local connections. You should be able to create and maintain both local and private networks and have a strong understanding of networking terms like HTTP, DNS, IP, TCP, etc.

Soft Skills

These soft skills are essential for a career in could architecture:

Business Knowledge

Cloud architects set up cloud systems based on business requirements, and you can’t do that if you don’t understand the business you’re working for. For that reason, you should take some time to understand the industry that your company operates in and the basic business approach.

Communication

Cloud architecture is a complex domain. However, not all the people you’re going to interact with will have a strong background in tech. That’s where your communication skills come in. It’s imperative that cloud architects have both strong written and oral communication skills to help in their interactions with colleagues.

Pursue Certifications 

Cloud architect certifications play an important role in your professional growth. Their most important contribution is in your own upskilling. Doing a certification exam is the easiest way to expand your skills in a specific area of cloud architecture.

Certification programs also show employers that you’re someone who’s passionate about what you do. They’re an overall great addition to your resume and an easy way to get a leg up on the competition.

Here are a few cloud certifications that you should consider doing:

  • Google Professional Cloud Architect
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • Linux Professional Institute Linux Essentials
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Find a Mentor

It isn’t always easy to figure out what step you should take next in your career, so it greatly helps to have a mentor that you can turn to for counsel.

Mentors are people who have a lot of experience under their belt and are eager to share it with people making their way up the ranks. You can find a mentor in your organization or approach people you’ve identified on platforms like LinkedIn.

When approaching someone with a request for mentorship, make sure to have a specific ask and be considerate of their time. Mentorship relationships often start off as a relaxed engagement and evolve as the personal relationship between mentor and mentee grows.

Keep Learning and Stay Up to Date on Industry Trends

As we said earlier, cloud technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Those who have a successful long-term career in cloud computing do so by keeping abreast of developments in the industry constantly. 

There are a few ways you can go about making that happen. The Internet, of course, is an inexhaustible resource when it comes to learning about the goings-on in the world of tech. You can follow cloud technology blogs to stay up-to-date with the industry.

Conferences and meetups are another great way to keep up with the industry. This is because events such as these tend to lay an emphasis on the most current trends in the space. An added benefit is that you get to meet other people who are passionate about cloud tech in the way that you are, which can lead to exciting opportunities and long-term professional relationships.

Start Applying to Cloud Architect Positions

Interviewing is a skill that you need to work on independently of all of the technical preparation that you do. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind as you start applying for entry-level cloud architect positions.

Optimize and Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Make sure that your LinkedIn is updated and that it corroborates everything that you’ve mentioned on your resume. A clean, professional headshot can also go a long way in making your profile more presentable. 

Tailor Your Resume to Each Position You Apply For

Remember that recruiters don’t have very much time to go through each resume. So you have to make sure that yours mentions only the most relevant details for each job. Also, take time to format your resume carefully so that it’s readable and easy to scan.

Prepare for the Interview

Practice is imperative as you go into the interview phase of this journey. You can have a friend or family member help you do mock interviews. Record these interviews and go over them to see how you deliver answers. Also, make sure to research each company as part of your interview prep.

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The Impact of AI on Cloud Architects (Industry, Role, and Jobs)

It is very unlikely that artificial intelligence will have much of an impact on the demand for cloud architects. This is because the critical thinking, creative demands, and stakeholder management that are involved in the job cannot be replicated using AI. So the role of cloud architect is one that’s largely future-proof.

That said, it is possible that cloud architects begin to use AI as a tool to help with their work. For example, they might be able to upload a requirements specification to a tool like ChatGPT and generate a list of cloud-based applications that can act as potential solutions. Similar tools can also be used for things like producing documentation and brainstorming ideas.

How Much Can You Make as a Cloud Architect?

how to become a cloud architect, annual salary

The average salary of a cloud architect is just over $150,000. Entry-level positions start at an annual pay of $132,500.

Becoming a Cloud Architect: Real-Life Examples To Learn From

Let’s take a look at a couple of people whose journey you can learn from so that you can replicate their success in the field of cloud architecture. 

3 Cloud Architects from Red Hat and Microsoft

This linked post contains an interview with three cloud architects working at Red Hat and Microsoft. It contains a lot of interesting insights about how they got started in the field, the advice they have for up-and-coming architects, and what makes cloud architecture valuable in the larger scheme of business operations.

Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza

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There are several misconceptions out there when it comes to the role of a cloud architect. Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza, a cloud architect at Microsoft, clarifies some of the key aspects of the job in the linked video. She also goes over an example of what a cloud architect would do as part of a larger project. Finally, the video also includes references to resources that you can use to gain important technical skills in cloud architecture.

How To Become a Cloud Architect FAQs

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Is Cloud Architecture a Good Career?

Yes, cloud architecture is a good career. It’s a field where you get to contribute meaningfully to tech projects and is also quickly becoming one of the most lucrative jobs in the space.

Do Cloud Architects Need a Degree?

Cloud architects don’t necessarily need a degree. Companies have started hiring candidates who have completed bootcamps or reputed certifications in the field.

Do You Need To Know How To Code To Become a Cloud Architect?

Most cloud architects don’t code as part of their job. However, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of programming in the few cases where you do need to write programs yourself or communicate with programmers in your team.

Which Is a Better Career: Cloud Engineer or Architect?

Cloud engineers are professionals who focus on implementing cloud-based solutions using programming and other skills. The cloud architect role lays a lot more emphasis on broad frameworks and system design.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing between cloud engineer and architect roles. It comes down to your interests and the field where your existing skills are more applicable.

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About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.