25 Hot Certifications For Cloud Professionals
Cloud-focused solution providers are increasingly looking to differentiate their technological capabilities as the cloud market matures and customers become savvier in selecting consultants. Showcasing an extensive array of certification badges held by technical staff is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
At the same time, the many professional certifications offered by vendors and industry organizations are highly useful to IT professionals looking to verify for prospective employers their abilities to deploy and administer the latest-and-greatest technologies.
"For candidates, having the certificate is good visibility. For companies, the certification provides them a benchmark of candidates' skill levels," said Aater Suleman, CEO of Austin, Texas.-based cloud consultancy Flux7. "It is natural for candidates with certifications to stand out."
The recent 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge reflects demand for IT professionals with security and cloud accreditations. Respondents to that survey with security skills reported the highest overall salaries, and those working with cloud technologies the fifth highest.
Below are 25 certifications that help their owners find high-paying jobs, and the firms they work for win big engagements.
Atlassian Certified JIRA Administrator
Atlassian's JIRA is a popular solution in the enterprise for issue and project tracking.
A JIRA deployment can be up and running in minutes in the cloud, allowing development teams to leverage the software's collaborative capabilities almost immediately, said Thad West, co-founder and CEO of Isos Technology, an Atlassian Solutions Partner.
Accredited resellers in the Software-as-a-Service vendor's channel are fielding a lot of inbound interest these days.
"This challenging certification is a great addition to the governance process any organization should put in place for mission critical applications like JIRA," West told CRN.
Average salaries for JIRA administrators of various levels on Indeed.com range from $70,000 to about $95,000.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
DevOps, the practice of melding development and operations teams to support rapid software development and deployment, is all the rage these days as enterprises execute digital transformations.
This badge validates skills in provisioning, operating and managing distributed applications using AWS.
The average salary for an AWS Certified DevOps Engineer is $108,315, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge.
DevOps competency for AWS is often a demand of clients looking to implement DevOps methodologies, said Jason Noble, vice president of technology solutions at Neudesic, a systems integrator based in Irvine, Calif. "These are badges that clients will actually look for."
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer validates development capabilities like continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous deployment, security controls, governance, and compliance validation, said David Linthicum, CEO of Cloud Technology Partners, based in Boston.
And "on the Ops side," Linthicum said, "it’s about monitoring, metrics, and logging systems, as well as maintaining operational systems."
AWS Certified Solutions Architect
The industry's undisputed champion offers a number of certifications, but this is the one most partners consider essential. The exam validates the skills and experience necessary to deploy distributed applications at scale on Amazon's cloud.
An AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate sees an average salary of $119,233, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
"AWS is eating everyone's lunch, so teams better have an understanding of how to properly use the tools," said Chris Ciborowski, CEO of Nebulaworks, based in Irvine, Calif.
"From an individual perspective, those are valuable," said Jason Noble, vice president of technology solutions at Neudesic, also based in Irvine. "From a corporation perspective, getting those competencies is super valuable."
One downside to the AWS certification – an outcry from some partners that the company's new managed services offering for its largest multinational customers lays the groundwork for channel conflict and muddies the waters on where they should focus their AWS consulting practices.
Certificate Of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)
Back in 2010, Cloud Security Alliance introduced what might have been the first cloud-focused security accreditation. At the time, it looked like the cloud had the potential to become a major delivery paradigm for IT services, but the potential security pitfalls were glaring.
The Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge is still highly valued in the channel for validating awareness and understanding of security threats and best practices for securing the cloud.
According to a salary survey conducted by Certification Magazine, CCSK holders in the US saw an average annual salary in 2016 of $149,760, the highest compensation for any certification the publication evaluated.
Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
Every high-profile data breach and headline-generating hack encourages solution providers to look harder for engineers with security prowess.
This vendor-agnostic certification offered by non-profit International Information System Security Certification Consortium, (ISC)², is a good place to start validating employee skills.
"It certainly piggybacks on the cachet of the flagship CISSP [Certified Information Systems Security Professional] certification and the venerable reputation of (ISC)²," said Mike Barkett, CTO at Sycomp, a solutions provider based in Foster City, Calif.
Like the CISSP badge, CCSP doesn’t prove anything about hands-on experience, instead indicating a broad mastery of the main concepts of the industry, explained Barkett.
"In the case of cloud security, in 2017, those concepts and the jargon to describe them, are primordial at best," Barkett said.
The average salary for someone in the U.S. with a CCSP certification is $120,103, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
Certified OpenStack Administrator
This is the first professional certification from the OpenStack Foundation, intended to validate skills in deploying and managing the open source cloud-building technology. It's particularly valuable given OpenStack adoption is being held back in the market by a dearth of professional talent.
The exam covers OpenStack's compute, storage and networking components.
According to Indeed, an OpenStack Administrator, on average, makes $70,474 per year. That escalates for an OpenStack Systems Administrator, $75,947; Senior Systems Administrator, $91,307; and OpenStack Cloud Engineer, almost $120,000.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cloud
Cisco's out of the hosting game, currently in the process of dismantling the Cisco Intercloud Services public cloud. But the networking leader still offers a number of popular cloud enablement tools and vital networking technologies that partners rely on to facilitate major cloud deployments.
Engineers earning the Cisco Certified Network Associate Cloud badge demonstrate competency in building, delivering, managing and supporting Cisco's solutions for public, private and hybrid environments.
Certified associates can then go for the Cisco Certified Network Professional Cloud certification, which validates advanced cloud skills around Cisco technologies.
The average salary for the holder of a CCNA Cloud certification in the US is $68,941, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
CloudBees Certified Jenkins Engineer
Solution providers facilitating the work of development teams recommend this certification from CloudBees, a continuous delivery software vendor based in San Jose, Calif.
The certification validates proficiency and skill in deploying the vendor's cloud-based version of Jenkins, an open source solution for continuous integration/continuous deployment pipelines.
"Jenkins is the market leader in CI/CD," said Chris Ciborowski, CEO of Nebulaworks. "It's widely used and can be a critical tool in modern software development, test, release and deployment pipelines."
CRN could not find specific compensation data for CloudBees Certified Jenkins engineers. But a DevOps engineer with Jenkins skills earns an average salary of $85,407, according to PayScale, a Seattle, Wash.-based salary data provider.
This is a popular non-vendor certification that's useful to validate overall professional capabilities around cloud technologies.
"CompTIA’s Cloud+ certifies your in-depth understanding of cloud terminology and methods for adopting the cloud," according to David Linthicum, CEO of Cloud Technology Partners. "If this sounds more basic than the AWS training, well, it is."
But the certification is a good place to start when looking for technology-agnostic training.
"I recommend it for cloud developers and administrators who are just getting started on their cloud computing journey, and who want to cover the basics to move beyond their specific technology skills," Linthicum said.
The average salary of a Cloud+ certification holder in the US is $93,122, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
Dell EMC Cloud Architect (EMCCA)
Now that the largest merger in tech history is in the rearview mirror, partners are looking to position themselves to take advantage of Dell EMC's towering presence in the market.
This high-level certification validates the ability of Dell EMC implementation professionals to plan and design virtual infrastructure built on the principle of elastic architecture and the combined company's compute, network and storage portfolios.
A typical EMCCA Specialist-Virtualized Infrastructure pro takes home $115,333, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
Google Certified Associate -- G Suite Administrator
Google pioneered the cloud-based office productivity category with Google Apps, but now finds itself chasing Microsoft to regain the market share lead it lost in 2015.
A push to reclaim the top spot started with Apps being rebranded as G Suite, and has included a renewed channel focus to help partners compete against Microsoft Office 365.
Certified G Suite administrators have proven they are competent in configuring and managing all aspects of the portfolio, including administering users, groups and access to services. They must also be proficient in managing security and mobile policies.
According to Glassdoor, an average Google Systems Administrator earns a base salary of $113,945 in the U.S., and total compensation of more than $126,000.
Google Certified Professional-Data Engineer
Google's cloud is growing at breakneck speed, differentiating itself with features that empower partners to deliver unique data-crunching and machine learning capabilities.
Lynda Partner, vice president of marketing at Pythian, told CRN the solution provider, based in Ottawa, doubled the Google Cloud Platform certifications held by staff recently, and Data Engineer may be the most valuable.
"We have ongoing training here from our big data team/leadership as well as data science team, helping us to stay competitive and ahead of the curve and to meet the growing demand for internal resources as our Google practice grows," Partner said.
The Data Engineer badge is still officially in beta. But the average salary for a Google Cloud Platform Qualified Data Analyst in the United States is $105,358, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge.
Google partners are applauding recent channel changes, including new rebates and incentives for selling the complete cloud stack, including Google Cloud Platform, G Suite, and Maps. They're also providing partners with low-interest loans and launching specializations in app development, data analytics, machine learning, and infrastructure.
HashiCorp -- Vault, Terraform And Consul Certifications
This startup's open source DevOps tools are earning respect across the industry.
Among them Vault, which secures tokens, certificates, and passwords; Terraform, an infrastructure management tool; and Consul for service discovery and configuration.
"We are seeing demand for their tools increase, with numerous customers of ours seeking engineers with enterprise-grade skills in HashiCorp Vault and Terraform," said Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7, a systems integrator based in Austin, Texas. that specializes in DevOps technologies.
"As with any new technology seeing wide adoption, a skills shortage is likely to follow," Suleman said.
That dearth of expertise is motivating IT firms to hire staff who have validated their knowledge of HashiCorp solutions, adding importance to the professional certifications the company recently debuted that codify best practices and validate the tools are used correctly and securely.
CRN couldn't find any specific compensation data for HashiCorp certified engineers, but, on average, DevOps engineers in the US take home more than $123,000, according to Indeed.
IBM Certified Solution Advisor -- Cloud Computing Architecture
This is a basic, but important badge from IBM, which accredits IT professionals for their ability to convey to customers the potential benefits in adopting Big Blue's extensive portfolio of cloud infrastructure products.
IBM solution advisors must demonstrate they can help customers understand their options in shifting legacy environments to IBM cloud solutions. To do so effectively, the certification exam verifies knowledge of IBM's cloud architecture and design principles.
The 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge pegged a generic IBM Certified Solution Advisor's average salary at $133,000.
PayScale, a Seattle, Wash.-based salary data provider, polled four solutions architects with the specific Cloud Computing Architecture emphasis, who on average made $110,000. Two software engineers with the same certification saw an average compensation of $71,750.
Informatica Certified Specialist -- PowerCenter Data Integration Certification
Data integration is becoming a bigger business with every passing day, and enterprises are looking to the channel to help them glean insights from valuable corporate data emanating from diverse sources.
Informatica, a leading provider of data warehousing solutions, offers the PowerCenter badge to validate skills around the company's enterprise integration platform.
There are two flavors of this certification -- one geared for administrators and the other for developers.
Glassdoor pegs an average Informatica administrator's salary at above $85,000.
Informatica developers, on average, make $81,000 annually, according to PayScale, a Seattle, Wash.-based salary data provider.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: Office 365
Microsoft has the lead in the cloud-based office productivity market with Office 365, but the software giant can't get too comfortable with Google refocusing its efforts to regain its position at the top of the category it pioneered.
This Associate cert primes Microsoft's channel partners to train employees with the skills needed to keep the momentum rolling. Those who earn the badge have demonstrated their ability to migrate customers to the product and administer their use of business applications like Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business.
An MCSA: Office 365 certification holder, on average, makes $83,036, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
This cert validates the skills needed to run a Microsoft-powered data center, including proficiency in several Microsoft cloud and systems technologies, particularly Windows Server and System Center. The badge is only available to those who already have earned the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification.
"If Microsoft technology, including Azure, is in your career path, this is a good place to start," said David Linthicum, CEO of Boston-based Cloud Technology Partners, in a company blog.
MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure only recently replaced Microsoft's MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification.
The annual salary for an Azure Solutions Architect is $119,128, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge.
Oracle Certified Professional, Database Cloud Administrator
As part of Oracle's big thrust into the cloud market, the software giant rolled out the OPN Cloud Program about a year ago.
Dan Reilly, director of alliances at Perficient, an IT consultancy based in St. Louis, Mo., told CRN the updated partner program laser-focused Oracle's channel.
"What we're being measured on is cloud," Reilly told CRN.
Getting certified as an Oracle Implementation Specialist is an essential component of the program.
"You need it if you're going to implement the product. Having that certification badge is a no-brainer," Reilly told CRN. "And if you want to go to another company, you can take that with you. It's an individual accomplishment."
The average salary of an Oracle Database 12c Certified Implementation Specialist in the US is $87,164, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
Pivotal Cloud Foundry Developer
Cloud Foundry is a leading Platform-as-a-Service for enterprise private cloud deployments, and while commercial offerings around the open source technology are available from many vendors, Pivotal is still the driving force behind the project it originally developed.
Pivotal, a joint venture of EMC and VMware, offers this certification to help administrators and developers gain expertise in using Cloud Foundry to develop, deploy and manage their custom software. The badge validates understanding of the architecture, tools and concepts necessary for effectively leveraging the technology.
According to Indeed, an average Pivotal Cloud Foundry Developer makes $91,866 per year, with escalations in pay for Cloud Engineers and Software Architects.
Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack
Red Hat's leadership position in the enterprise Linux market, which hasn't escaped the OpenStack community, makes proficiency in the open source software giant's OpenStack distribution a valuable asset for many cloud-focused solution providers.
The certification, which recently replaced Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Infrastructure-as-a-Service, validates the capabilities of OpenStack pros in designing and deploying managed private clouds using Red Hat solutions.
The average salary of Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack in the US is $108,000, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
"This one is not as well-known, but is going to be hot and in-demand for OpenStack environments," Carson A. Synh, vice president at pm2NET, a solution provider based in Irvine, Calif., told CRN.
Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate
Optimizing application and network performance is a crucial skill for channel partners selling cloud solutions.
Most candidates who pursue this badge have already earned the Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate accreditation and can demonstrate strong competencies in WAN optimization, network performance management, application performance management, and storage delivery.
The average salary for holders of the Riverbed Certified Solutions Professional badge ranges from about $83,092 per year for a senior analyst to $120,637 per year for a software architect, according to Indeed.
Salesforce Certified Technical Architect
Salesforce offers a number of professional certifications, but "Certified Architect is the ultimate," said Howard Moore, CEO of Keste, a consultancy based in Plano, Texas. "There are very few in the world."
Salesforce pros who earn the Technical Architect badge have demonstrated a broad set of skills around leveraging the Force.com platform to build and design custom Salesforce solutions for their customers.
The average salary for someone with this Salesforce certification, based on five professionals polled, is above $130,000, according to PayScale, a Seattle, Wash.-based salary data provider.
Splunk Certified Architect
Solutions for searching, monitoring and analyzing data flows in real time are becoming essential components of many channel practices, and Splunk is a leading vendor tackling such challenges in the age of machine-generated big data.
The channel is taking notice, with deals like the recent acquisition of Continuum Security Solutions, a solution provider with a large Splunk practice, by Sirius Computer Solutions.
This certification track prepares Splunk practitioners to architect and deploy Splunk solutions for large enterprises.
The average salary for a Splunk Certified Architect in the US ranges from $99,477 for Architect to $130,734 for Enterprise Architect, according to Indeed.com, a job posting site.
VMware Certified Professional-Data Center Virtualization
VMware's recently announced partnership with AWS, which should yield a generally available product later this year, bestows on VMware's already popular badge even greater relevance in the market.
A VMware Certified Professional specializing in Data Center Virtualization has demonstrated proficiency in designing, implementing and managing the vSphere virtualization suite for private clouds.
The average salary for a VMware Certified Professional 5-Data Center Virtualization was $96,309, according to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge.
With vSphere environments soon to be available through AWS, it's the rare "on-prem cert that transfers to cloud," said David Klee, founder of Heraflux Technologies, based in Portland, Maine.