Cloud certifications: a valuable addition to your CV
The ongoing shift to the cloud is a trend that we covered extensively in 2020. Gartner predict that by 2025, as many as 80% of enterprises will shut down their traditional data centers and shift to the public cloud. The ForresterNow Predictions 2021: Cloud Computing reports that this trend has been further accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. All the while, the 3 big hyperscalers (AWS, GCP and Azure) continue to pour billions of dollars into cloud R&D - sharpening the cloud value proposition and centre of gravity for enterprise toward cloud operations.
Cloud competency in the market
A corollary to this shift to cloud-based operations and remote workforces is the growing expectations around cloud competency in the market. Erica Langhi, Senior Solution Architect EMEA Red Hat, notes that "as organisations are building more products and services on public and private clouds instead of using traditional software infrastructures, cloud-native development is a skill worth investing in from a developer's perspective".
As demand for cloud grows, professionals will find themselves needing to demonstrate their expertise and to simultaneously differentiate themselves from the wider candidate pool. Certifications from the major cloud providers (AWS, GCP and Azure), are a great way for candidates to demonstrate and validate their technical knowledge and skills in a more formalised way and can be a great compliment to a CV.
What to expect in the exams
Certification exams vary, but, generally, each features multiple-choice, multiple responses and sample direction questions. These are timed exams, monitored by professionals and can last from anywhere between 80 to 170 minutes depending on the difficulty level of the module being studied. AWS, for example, split certifications into Associate-level, Professional and Specialty categories. Course materials can be covered through self-directed learning, but there are more and more third-party learning specialists who can help candidates gear up for the exams in a more structured learning environment.
Exam questions focus on the tools, services and concepts particular to that cloud provider, although the marking criteria will change from provider to provider.
During the course of the GCP Cloud Architect certification, for example, one can expect to obtain an in-depth understanding of Google Cloud Platform and cloud architecture, which will assist in designing technical and business processes, as well as security considerations, by leveraging Google Cloud technologies.
What you'll learn
AWS certifications will ensure that you have a strong grasp of AWS Cloud and its basic infrastructure, architectural principles, value proposition, key services, security and compliance aspects, billing, account management, pricing models, documentation, technical assistance, deployment, and operations.
If you want advanced cloud expertise with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals imparts knowledge on cloud concepts, core Azure services; Azure solutions and management tools; general and network security features; identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features; and Azure cost management and service level agreements.
Whilst reams of certifications can't be relied on to prop up a CV in their entirety, they are becoming more and more valuable, and can give assurances to employers that they have in front of them a candidate that takes self-improvement seriously, particularly important in a constantly changing landscape of technologies and practices.
Zane Schweer, lead researcher in the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report sums it up: "Certifications show that you have the breadth and depth of expertise and that you are committed to continuously learning. Say you just had one certification in entry level field, such as entry level cloud certification. Well, cloud changes all the time. Your career is changing all the time. Your job roles are changing all the time."
Cloud certifications can have a positive impact on your salary
Whilst certifications demand time and money, professionals can be assured that their efforts will lead to material benefit. The report demonstrates that professionals who are certified, consistently attain higher salaries than their counterparts who are not, throughout the entire global market.
The increased salary wasn't the only benefit employees saw: 45% of respondents with certifications said they have implemented their efficiencies and 43% said they are faster at their jobs, the report found. More than half said their expertise is more sought after within their organisation upon gaining certifications.
ConclusionWhilst certifications like these are not a silver bullet, the numbers don’t lie. Certifications not only expand expertise, they can play a key role in swelling your paycheck and making one more desirable to IT leadership. In a constantly evolving landscape of technologies and practices, investing in yourself through certification, seems to be one of the constants that can help you out.
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