What Is a Cloud Architect and What Do They Do?

Careers in Cloud Management

“When I grow up, I want to be a cloud architect.” Not too long ago, this declaration would have sounded absurd. But today, between the combination of tech-savvy youth and the rapid adoption of cloud computing, this career may be poised to join other top aspirations like firefighter, astronaut, and veterinarian! In fact, cloud computing is projected to increase across all industries from $67B in 2015 to $162B in 2020—a compound annual growth rate of nearly 20%; this will make experienced cloud architects highly sought after. So, what is a cloud architect, and what exactly do they do?

Cloud Architect Career Overview

With roots in IT software development, the cloud architect maps out cloud environments across several remotely located servers, offering guidance throughout development and deployment processes. Their duties include setting up front/back-end platforms, monitoring cloud activity, building and migrating applications, and defining computing loads. Additionally, architects often oversee systems to ensure they abide by various compliance and security policies, making updates as necessary. Cloud computing is constantly evolving, requiring cloud architects to pivot in an instant, adapting quickly and responding to new challenges and issues.

Typically reporting to an IT Director, cloud architects are often in the unique position of both managing a team and nurturing clients. Architects can be found across many industries, including technology (from video game developers, to design firms), manufacturing, and finance.

Cloud Architect Educational Requirements

A quick search of current job descriptions reveals that most cloud architect positions require a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field. But not all. Some companies are accepting applicants who possess a combination of technical education and experience in the computing industry. Others seem to value a Cloud Architect Certification. Certifications—especially for those lacking first-hand experience—may be what it takes to help make an impression. Plus, recent reports have shown that individuals with certifications earn more (IT-experts certified in AWS command a 28% higher salary than their peers without it). There are many practitioners, such as Simplilearn Solutions, that offer a master’s certificate following the completion of live, instructor-led online courses.

Cloud Architect Skills

Job descriptions vary, of course, but some of the skills that seem to be standard  include:

  • Knowledge regarding programming and coding languages
  • Familiarity with Application Programs Interface (API) management systems
  • Caching, queuing, network and security systems
  • Knowledge of complex IT ecosystems outside of the cloud
  • Familiarity with the employer’s industry

While mastery of technical skills is necessary, it’s also important to possess non-technical, or soft skills. As mentioned in the overview, cloud architects must frequently collaborate with internal teams, as well as external client teams. In nearly all the job descriptions we reviewed, employers were looking for applicants with each of the following:

  • Strong people skills
  • Superior leadership ability
  • Excellent written and verbal communication

Previous experience working across multiple departments will be a major plus for potential employers as it demonstrates versatility.  

Cloud Architect Salary and Job Outlook

At last, what you really want to know! According to Glassdoor, as of this publication, the average base pay for a cloud architect in the U.S. is $142,141 per year. The estimate is based on approximately 80 salaries submitted anonymously by cloud architect employees. Cloud architects, which are included in the broader category of computer network architects within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, are projected to experience 9% growth through 2024. However, this number is likely to change. The BLS itself notes that as more companies move to the cloud, the demand for computer network architects—who build networks in-house—is likely to become diminished. This, in turn, will further increase demand for cloud architects (case in point: Glassdoor currently lists 17,714 cloud architecture-related jobs online).  

It’s truly an exciting time to be active in the cloud. With rapid adoption continuing to keep cloud architects in high demand, a career shift may be closer (and easier!) than you think. For example, if you’re in traditional IT, you can parlay those experiences into cloud migration projects requiring knowledge of legacy systems; if you’re a healthcare IT expert, you can move to a cloud provider specializing in healthcare and compliance; and if you really want to broaden your knowledge and opportunities, you can look into cloud architecture certification programs. Interested in a cloud computing-related position with DSM, Florida’s preferred cloud provider? Check out our job openings here.

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