The top cloud certifications to improve your employment forecast
Posted on
December 26, 2014

This feature first appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

What are the top cloud certifications?

There are suddenly more cloud certifications than clouds in the sky during a monsoon. They’re forming all over the place, so much so that they’re blotting each other out at times. So are the jobs — currently has more than 500,000 job postings that specifically mention cloud computing.

As you would expect, many of those jobs are with cloud infrastructure or service providers (or their partners), though there are plenty of other potential employers as well. Quite a few job openings mention specific certifications. Others don’t, but you can bet that having an appropriate credential on your resume will help boost you to the top of the “to interview” list.

To help you find the best cloud certification for your needs, we’ve compiled a few lists highlighting top cloud certifications. We could have aimed for one “best cloud computing certification” list, but really what’s best for one IT Pro can be pretty unhelpful for another, especially on a crowded and exciting playing field like cloud computing.

Since picking the “best” certification is all about matching your talent and desires to the pool of available certifications — while keeping a sharp eye on market demand and program quality — we’ve developed three separate cloud computing certification lists for you, each focused on a distinct job role:

Cloud Administrator Certifications — Top-notch credentials oriented to the day-to-day operations, configuration, and troubleshooting of cloud technologies

Cloud Architect Certifications — Best for those of you with design skills and aspirations, whether it be developing enterprise-level private clouds from the ground up or infrastructure on a less-grand scale such as developing cloud storage solutions

Cloud Developer Certifications — A handful of credentials of particular value to software engineers seeking to ply their trade in the cloud

The certifications on these lists cover public and private cloud technologies, a broad expanse that includes Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Virtualization, a key component of cloud computing that enables multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical machine, is also well represented.

Whether you aspire to support the cloud, program for the cloud, or build the cloud, there’s a certification that can help you get there. Don’t expect to go from zero to cloud guru overnight — you’re going to need a strong base knowledge about networking, storage, and operating systems before you’re truly ready to dive into the cloud.

If you’re more interested in using cloud certifications as a way to get your head in the cloud for the first time, rather than certify in-depth technical skills, there are a handful of good options that presuppose less of a hands-on role. Two very solid options are CompTIA Cloud Essentials and Cloud Technology Associate from the Cloud Computing Council. Both are vendor-neutral and assess basic understanding of cloud and virtualization technologies and issues without getting into a deep hands-on role.

Note: Most cloud certifications are relatively new, and salary data aggregators often don’t have enough information available to adequately or accurately assess them. Where available, average annual salary information has been provided.


The certifications on this list are for the people who deploy, manage and troubleshoot cloud installations and their components. Although you’ll find some vendor-neutral options on this list, most cloud technology implementation is vendor-specific, so there are many more credentials available along those lines. Look for a program that either reflects what your current employer is using or features a large installed base so your path to the cloud will have many lanes.

CompTIA Cloud+ —  Cloud+ is one of a handful of vendor-neutral cloud certifications. Although it’s a relatively new addition to CompTIA’s certification portfolio, it automatically benefits from the solid reputation CompTIA has for developing quality certifications, and thus will be easily recognizable on your resume. It’s aimed at system administrators and engineers with two to three years’ experience working with cloud technologies. It incorporates broad coverage of cloud concepts and models including virtualization, security and systems management, among other topics related to implementing and maintaining cloud platforms.

CompTIA also offers a Cloud Essentials certificate. That one is more of an “I get how the cloud works” credential, rather than certifying that “I can make the cloud work,” but worth looking into if you’re very entry-level. Cloud+, on the other hand, can serve as a great entrée to one of the vendor specific credentials or open the door to a job where that training will be provided for you.

Salary: (No available information)

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator  —  If you haven’t heard of Amazon Web Services (AWS), then you don’t have your head in the cloud yet. It’s a big player and growing. If you deploy and manage AWS cloud platform technologies, or you aspire to, then this is an ideal certification to have on your resume. It’s targeted at IT Pros who operate an AWS environment as well as those responsible for defining requirements for an AWS implementation, which makes it particularly well-suited to people who work as consultants (and it could prove pretty useful in your employer’s sales materials as well). Currently available only at the Associate level, but a Pro level may appear in the near future.

Salary: (No available information)

MCSE: Private Cloud — This is not as big as you might expect in Cloudville, but if you work in a Microsoft Windows Server environment and have cloud aspirations, then this certification may be just what the career doctor ordered. To earn it, you’ll need to secure the MCSA: Windows Server (2008 or 2012) as a prerequisite, plus pass two additional exams covering Microsoft System Center. It’s a good target credential for system and network administrators in a Microsoft shop.

Salary: $63,000 to $92,000 for senior engineers

Red Hat Enterprise Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack — The OpenStack open source software for building public and private clouds is pretty new, and so is this certification from Red Hat. It certifies the ability to build and manage private clouds based on OpenStack components. Given the growing popularity of open source and the widespread use of Linux, this is likely to be quite attractive to potential employers. Plus, it comes from Red Hat, curators of the sought-after Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) credential, which gives it instant credibility.

Salary: (No available information)

Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA) — Linux is an enterprise favorite due to its renowned stability and flexibility, and with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager, it now incorporates the key cloud technology of virtualization, supporting both Linux and Windows servers. The RHCVA is for IT pros who know how to use the virtualization manager to create, deploy, and manage virtual machines. To earn it, you’ll have to pass a hands-on practical exam to prove you really know your stuff.

Salary: $40,000 to $90,000

VMware Certified / Advanced Professional: Cloud Infrastructure Administration (VCP-Cloud/VCAP-CIA) — VMware is a market leader in the virtualization space, and if you search any sizable job board for related jobs, be prepared to peruse thousands upon thousands of openings. Unlike the other vendors referenced here, VMware requires candidates to attend training. Normally that means it wouldn’t be included here, as we prefer to focus on credentials that test for knowledge rather than require class attendance. It’s such a valuable cloud cert, however, that we’re including it here anyway.

VCP-Cloud is for individuals who know how to configure, install, and administer a cloud environment using VMware’s vCloud Director and related technologies. This is the base level of VMware’s cloud certifications. You can opt to head up to VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP-Cloud) or VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-Cloud) from here.

Salary: $66,000 or more for admins, as much as $118,000 for architects Certified Administrator/Advanced Administrator — If you haven’t heard of before, look it up now and prepare to be impressed with the size of its market footprint and hiring demand. If you have some administration experience under your belt, then earning the basic or advanced administrator credential can help you upgrade your career. You’ll find it specifically requested in job postings, and certification requires just one exam per level — so you may be just one exam away from certification. You’ll need to know how to manage users, data and security, as well as how to finesse reports, dashboards and workflow.

Salary: $44,000 for basic admins, up to $120,000 or more for consultants

HP ATP: Cloud Administrator — HP is one of the leaders in private cloud solutions, so there’s plenty of demand for people who know how to administer an HP cloud. The Accredited Technical Professional (ATP) is the base credential in HP’s ExpertOne portfolio. This track focuses on HP CloudSystem Matrix and the HP converged infrastructure from a service-centric perspective. It’s a good choice for network admins in an HP environment.

Salary: (No available information)

Oracle Certified Professional/Master, Database Cloud Administrator — If you’re an Oracle DBA, then you should definitely take a gander at these two certifications. You’ll need Oracle DBA certification under your belt first (at the Master or Professional level depending on which of these you’re after). Then you’ll need to pass an exam on administering Oracle Database in the cloud.

Oracle DBAs are always in demand, and with the movement of so many computing resources to the cloud, knowing how to manage an Oracle DB that’s parked there is likely to become a very valuable skill to showcase on your resume. Oracle offers some additional cloud-related certifications worth checking out as well.

Salary: (No available information)

CCC Professional Cloud Administrator — This credential from the Cloud Credential Council is a vendor-neutral assessment of your knowledge about Cloud Provisioning and Administration, Cloud Bursting, Cloud Interoperability, Strategic Policy Design for Cloud Usage and Compliance, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Strategies for the Cloud, as well as Performance Measurement and Monitoring. An associated training curriculum is strongly encouraged, but not required. You might want to use this credential if you’re looking for a certification that will get you up to speed pretty quickly, or as prep for a vendor-specific certification.

Salary: (No available information)

More Cloud Administrator Certifications

Cloud administrator certifications are in plentiful supply, and this list could go on for some time. The choices detailed to this point represent some of the strongest contenders for space on your resume. They certify in-demand skills at a significant level, and come from well recognized cloud industry players. If you’re not finding your ideal match, other places to look include the certification portfolios of all the companies mentioned above, especially VMware, Red Hat and HP. You may also benefit from sifting through the certification portfolios of the Cloud Credential Council and


If you’re ready to advance from keeping the cloud running to building new clouds, then a cloud architect position is your best option. As you’d expect, most architect certifications are built around a particular vendor’s technologies. Often the vendor will provide a multi-faceted certification program mirroring its cloud offerings. We created this list of cloud architect credentials to help you proceed straight to the cream of the crop, based on what’s hot and who’s got it.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect — Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most widely used cloud platforms, so having an AWS credential in hand will really give you an edge when applying for many cloud positions. Available at both Associate and Professional levels, this is for individuals who design and deploy distributed systems on AWS. To achieve this, you’ll have to be well-versed in at least one high-level programming language, plus have the in-depth expertise needed to design and deploy a secure AWS platform implementation. This is a prime credential for individuals seeking a Cloud Architect position.

Salary: (No available information)

EMC Certified Cloud Architect (EMCCA) / Expert (EMCCAe) — EMC is another major vendor of virtualization technology and has a full line of related credentials on tap. If you know your EMC, expect recruiters to be knocking at your door. At the top of the heap is EMC Cloud Architect. This is for pros who know how to design and build virtualized data centers and cloud infrastructure.

Earlier on the skill chain, the EMC certification program starts at the associate level, where candidates must prove expertise with EMC cloud storage technologies. Once the EMCISA (EMC Certified Information Storage Associate) is earned, you become eligible for the more advanced EMC Cloud Architect (EMCCA) and then the cloud capstone EMC Cloud Architect Expert (EMCCAe). Training is recommended and available, but if you can challenge and pass the exam without the official training, that’s allowed too. This is currently one of the hottest cloud certifications going.

Salary: (No available information)

VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) - Cloud and VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Cloud Infrastructure Design (VCAP-CID) — VCDX is the highest certification offered by VMware and earning it or its one-step-down relative, VCAP, will put you in an elite class indeed. The Cloud track incorporates vSphere, data center virtualization, and the VMware vCloud Suite, with a focus on delivering infrastructure as a service (IaaS). If you’re already in an enterprise cloud architect position, or angling to get one, then this is a powerful certification to have on your side. If you’re not up to the VCDX skill level yet, then you can work your way up through VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Cloud Infrastructure Design (VCAP-CID).

Salary: (No available information)

HP ASE/Master ASE - Data Center and Cloud Architect — HP was recently named in a Forester Wave research study as the No. 1 leader in private cloud solutions. So if you want to get in on the action, then the HP Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) and Master ASE have your name written all over them. Both of these titles mean you can plan, design, and manage a converged infrastructure and cloud environment. To achieve the elite Master ASE level, you’ll have to provide proof of work experience plus face a board review. Both of these credentials are most beneficial to IT pros (and their employers!) who work for HP partners.

Salary: (No available information)

IBM Certified Solution Architect – Cloud Computing Infrastructure — Although IBM may not be among the first names that comes to mind when you think cloud, they’re definitely in the game. If you have IBM experience, then this certification can stamp “cloud expert” on your resume. It certifies architect-level skills on the IBM cloud computing infrastructure. It tests general cloud knowledge, as well as IBM-specific execution. This certification is primarily intended for consultants.

Salary: (No available information) Certified Technical Architect — is another player that’s out there gobbling up cloud customers and the professionals to support them. If you’re primed to design platform solutions from the ground up, then this is a pretty nifty credential to have on board. To earn it, you’ll have to pass a board review as well as a multiple choice exam to prove deep expertise in the platform, including its integration into existing environments.

Salary: (No available information)

CCC Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA) — This new certification from the Cloud Credential Council’s portfolio takes a vendor-neutral approach to the ins and outs of setting up a cloud and transitioning to it. Although perhaps less hands-on than a vendor-specific architect certification, it can provide evidence that you have knowledge of cloud architecture that’s not tied to a particular vendor’s cloud implementation.

Salary: (No available information)

More Cloud Architect Certifications

The certifications on this list are the heavy hitters you should definitely know about. They have plenty of company, however, especially if you need to start down a level or two and then climb up. Check out the certification portfolios of AWS, EMC, HP, IBM, VMware and for starters.


Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer — If you want to program for the cloud, then this is an ideal certification to pursue. Many, many applications run on Amazon cloud services, and that number seems to be growing exponentially. Aimed at individuals who design, develop and deploy applications that utilize AWS, this certification tests knowledge of APIs and SDKs for Amazon’s Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWS), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS CloudFormation products. As of this writing, this is currently available only at the Associate level, but there is likely a Professional credential in the works.

Salary: (No available information)

Microsoft Azure Developer Specialist — Microsoft was a little slow getting into the cloud certification game, but they’re here now, with two Microsoft Specialist certifications tied to their cloud product, Microsoft Azure. The one for developers is aptly named Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions, and you can earn it by passing one associated exam. Doing so will also help you down the track toward an eventual MCSD. Microsoft’s Specialist exams seem reserved for things that don’t fit easily into the existing tracks, and although many are partner specific, this one’s open to Jane (or John) Q. Public.

Salary: (No available information) Certified Developer / Advanced Developer — This is a go-to credential for IT Pros who work (or want to work) as a consultant or developer building custom applications that work with the Salesforce1 cloud platform. Salesforce1 is in wide use in a variety of industries ranging from financial services to retail to healthcare. The certification program is well respected and employers seeking expertise on this platform frequently seek out IT Pros with certifications. Just take a gander at any IT job board and see for yourself.

Salary: $45,000 to $100,000 or more for senior developers and consultants; $56,000 to well over $100,000 for advanced developers

Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop (CCDH) — Technically Hadoop isn’t a cloud product, but it so frequently lives there that we feel this qualifies as a cloud developer certification. This credential, which is part of a portfolio operated by Cloudera, is for developers who know how to write, maintain, and optimize Apache Hadoop projects. Hadoop is an open-source distributed computing framework that is typically run in the cloud. It’s also a “big data” technology, so with this in hand you’ll be geared up for both big data and cloud computing. It’s hard to get more current than that!

Salary: (No available information)

CCC Professional Cloud Developer (PCD) — This vendor-neutral credential from the Cloud Credential Council (CCC) tests knowledge of topics such as cloud architecture patterns, development and monetization techniques, testing in the cloud, scalable coding, and cloud security and compliance fundamentals, among other topics. As with other CCC certifications, there’s a complete training package associated, but not strictly required. If you’re looking for a certification to use as a blueprint for learning cloud development, however, this could be a good way to go.

Salary: $74,000 to $135,000

More Cloud Developer Certifications

Pinning down certifications for cloud developers is a bit tricky. With a few exceptions — such as the AWS Developer certification —moving to the cloud for a developer means expanding existing API skills that connect what you already know to cloud services. You aren’t really learning anything radically distinct. So watch for certifications related to what you’re already doing that expound and incorporate cloud technologies, and jump on them when they do. Or, take a closer look at the Cloud Architect certs — as a programmer you have a head start on many of them.

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About the Author

Anne Martinez is a certification industry veteran and the founder of She has been observing the industry and writing about IT certification since 1998.

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