The Intuitive guide to a career in AWS Cloud Computing

Amazon owns nearly half of the world’s public-cloud infrastructure market. According to Gartner, the Connecticut-based research firm, the adoption of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is growing rapidly with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the top vendor by significant margin.

In 2018 the IaaS market grew 31.1% with AWS owning nearly half of the overall public-cloud infrastructure market (47.8%). This growth, as expected, has been reflected in the demand for cloud professionals who are proficient in AWS cloud computing as well as the salaries they are able to stipulate. A study by Global Knowledge lays out the 15 top-paying IT certifications for 2020

As an increasing number of businesses adopt cloud computing, more careers are emerging to suit the growing needs of the ever-evolving digital landscape. AWS is the preferred choice for many businesses and already has a presence in 190 countries with over 100,000 customers. 

AWS in different sectors 

There is no industry left untouched by the disruption of technology. The field of Cloud Computing especially is drastically changing the way business is done across multiple sectors. And, whilst digital transformation has been adopted in some industries faster than others but all are starting to see the benefits, from banking and education to healthcare and manufacturing.

The rise in adoption of digital practices, specifically that of cloud computing, means those with the right skillset have a wide range of roles and industries to choose from. Those at the top of their game in AWS cloud computing will be able to bring a wealth of knowledge to organisations to help improve business practices and rise above competitors in challenging markets – their skills are highly sought after. 

Research from Global Knowledge shows that 90 percent of IT decision makers report cloud skills shortages in their workforce.  The number of career opportunities within AWS computing is growing as we speak, what you need to know is how to go from where you are now to landing your ideal AWS role. 

Identify your specialism 

The first step in planning your career in AWS cloud computing is deciding on your specialism as this will dictate, to a certain extent, the learning path you to take to get there. There is a wide range of AWS roles available [link to AWS roles page] including, but not limited to, developers, solutions architects, cloud data architects and consultants. 

You can see the roles available as well as their different learning paths here.

What’s the most in-demand AWS role?

Given the skills gap around AWS and cloud computing in general, one of the most in-demand roles is that of a cloud architect. Professionals with cloud architecture expertise in how to plan, design, develop, migrate, and operate applications in the cloud are highly sought after. It is a role that presents endless opportunities for business growth and innovation as well as a prosperous career path. 

What is a cloud architect?

Cloud architects are responsible for managing the entirety of an organisations cloud computing architecture. A cloud architect will have in-depth knowledge of the architectural principles and services used to develop an effective cloud strategy. The role also requires the expertise for cloud migration efforts, reviewing workload architectures and ability to provide guidance on how to address high-risk issues. Anyone looking for a cloud architect role requires a mix of business, technical and people skills in order to succeed, as well as an understanding of the ever-evolving technical training that their team may need. 

How to get AWS certified

Once you’ve decided on your AWS career path, the next stage is making sure you obtain your relevant certification(s).

There are four different levels of AWS certification – foundational, associate, professional and specialty – and there are further options within these core categories depending on your current skillset. The certification you need will depend on the area in which you wish to specialise as well as the expertise you already possess. 

As an example, for the foundational AWS certification, it is recommended that you have a basic understanding of IT services and six months of experience using the AWS Cloud in any role, including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial. 

Some of the specialty courses require far more experience, such as AWS Certified Big Data which recommends that you have five years of hands-on experience in a data analytics field.

Each certification requires you to prepare for and take an exam, typically at a dedicated testing centre, and you should keep in mind that there are costs involved.

If you feel as though you need to acquire more knowledge before taking your chosen certification, there are details of digital training courses and exam resources on the AWS website.

Acquiring the necessary skills

AWS currently brings together more than fifty services and continues to grow. The main AWS services that you should be aware of are: 

  • Amazon S3 – Amazon Simple Storage Service helps facilitate large-scale data collection, storage and analysis. 
  • Amazon Dynamo DB – A NoSQL database service known for its very low latency of just a few milliseconds. 
  • Amazon Redshift – A fully managed data warehouse service known for its speed. With this solution, users can easily and economically analyse all their data. 
  • Amazon CloudFront – CloudFront is a global content delivery network that distributes data, videos, applications and APIs securely, without latency, at high transfer speed.
  • Amazon CloudSearch – An AWS managed search service that makes it easy to configure, manage and scale up a search solution for a website or application. 
  • Amazon EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud – Provides users with secure, resizeable compute capactity. It makes it easy to access cloud computing resources to easily obtain and configure storage capacities.

The top 10 technical skills needed for a career in AWS cloud computing are:

  1. Java
  2. Python
  3. Linux
  4. Database skills
  5. Quality Assurance
  6. Networking
  7. Data Storage Fundamentals
  8. Security Foundations
  9. Analytical Assessments
  10. Cloud specific patterns and technologies

Technical skills are, of course, paramount especially if you are looking to move into a senior role. You will need good knowledge of the following: 

  • Programming languages: The majority of people who go into AWS cloud computing roles have a background in software development. You should be able to write code in at least one key programming language, such as Java, Python, C# or Ruby. If you do not have a coding background, you can learn more here: [link to good programming courses for beginners]
  • Operating systems: AWS supported operating systems include: Windows Server, Linux and Raspbian. We recommend focusing on Linux servers in particular, as those who are skilled in Linux are currently in high demand and the majority of organisations use Linux as their operating system.
  • Networking: An understanding of networking is essential for building cloud architecture. This means that you’ll be expected to be able to use services such as DNS, TCP/IP, HTTP, CDN and VPN in order to create your cloud network.
  • Data storage fundamentals: Data storage capabilities are a key element of AWS so you need some fundamental knowledge in this area in order to store, query and manipulate data. The most common database language is SQL (Structured Query Language) so we’d recommend starting with this.

Transferable or ‘soft’ skills

While the technical capabilities for AWS cloud computing are essential, it’s important not to ignore other areas of your personal development – these are the assets that ultimately make you employable over someone else with the same qualifications. After all, businesses are hiring human beings, not just a skillset. These skills become highly valuable as you move through your career path. To progress into management positions requires your ability to manage a team and other people’s time as well as your own. 

  • Communication skills: The ability to explain complex ideas relating to the AWS cloud architecture and the importance of your work to your colleagues and superiors in a clear and concise manner is crucial. This might include preparing in advance for key meetings, outlining your proposals in writing and opening up the opportunity for questions during team discussions.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: You should be skilled in managing your own time and a varied workload, with the ability to prioritise tasks and be flexible. In turn, this will allow you to solve problems as they emerge and make judgement calls relating to the organisation’s cloud infrastructure when required.
  • Emotional intelligence: This is the quality that gives you the ability to empathise, work in a team and respond to the needs of others within the organisation, meaning you can all make progress. Emotional intelligence is essential for a harmonious workplace and is something that employers will look out for.

An understanding of the wider picture

The capabilities of AWS cloud computing are vast, from streamlining business processes and eliminating infrastructure costs to implementing order-processing integration for e-commerce transactions. 

As well as the technical intricacies, you need to understand the value proposition of AWS and how it can fit into a wider strategy for business growth. This is a skill that will make you an invaluable asset to the organisation your work for.

Plus, to have a successful and fulfilling career, it is far more rewarding when you can use your skillset to recommend ways your cloud architecture can scale and evolve, therefore supporting the advancement of the business, as well as just the day-to-day support.

Here at Intuition IT, we understand the importance of matching the right talent with the right job role and company culture so that the candidates we place can thrive in their careers. As you embark on your career in AWS cloud computing, keep in mind the importance of finding fulfilment at work.