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Highest Paying Cloud Certifications

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By: Shelby Welty

February 9, 2021

Big Money: The Highest Paying Cloud Certifications

Money matters. While many IT professionals enjoy the operational challenges and career opportunities that come with being on the front lines of enterprise technology evolution, enjoyment doesn't pay the bills. Competitive compensation is critical for technology staff to feel financially secure and fundamentally appreciated for their skills.

So how do IT pros find the best-paying technology jobs? The cloud is a solid starting point as both provider and customer markets diversify, creating massive career potential for qualified IT staff. But this introduces another question: What are the highest paying cloud certifications? Which ones offer the best value, both in terms of immediate compensation and career potential over time?

Let's dive in.

Biggest Payday: Google Cloud Professional (GCP) Cloud Architect

While Google was (relatively) late to the public cloud party, the search provider has made significant inroads with agile and scalable cloud services. Case in point: As noted by CIO, GCP Cloud Architects are in-demand in 2020, with many earning more than $150,000 for their expertise.

Although this certification doesn't have any hard-and-fast prerequisites, Google recommends at least three years of IT industry experience along with one year of designing and managing cloud solutions using the GCP framework.

For IT professionals making a move to cloud-focused career tracks, however, the lure of a potentially large paycheck may not be enough in isolation. Google's certifications are currently in high demand. The company has a habit of "retiring" even popular programs as their profit priorities shift.

Best bet? Start with an Introductory Cloud Architecture course covering the big three — Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — before committing to more specific certification training.

Most Potential: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

Despite increasing competition from Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, AWS remains the market leader. While this stems in part from an early industry lead, Amazon is also committed to the continual evolution of cloud services. From the increasing adoption of open-source models to the need for large-scale interoperability, AWS offerings are often on the cutting-edge of public cloud development.

So it's no surprise that the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification offers both substantive earning potential and the opportunity for IT staff to specialize their cloud knowledge further. With an average salary just under the GCP qualification at $149,000 per year combined with role-based certification tracks that let IT pros develop in-demand AWS DevOps skills, this certification offers a tough-to-beat combination of great starting salary and cloud position potential.

Greatest Stability: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Compensation consistency is critical for IT pros, especially as business environments adapt and respond to evolving market forces. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is all about consistency. With an average salary just of over $130,000, AWS-certified pros are both sought-after by enterprises looking to shore up cloud skills and enjoy the job security necessary to explore further their passion and potential in the cloud.

Here's why: While this AWS qualification isn't a requirement for any other Amazon certification, it's clear that companies are willing to pay for cloud expertise. As a result, this entry-level qualification is an excellent investment for IT pros. Not only do they get the benefit of a strong, six-figure salary to start, but they also have the opportunity to expand their cloud knowledge as their company implements new cloud strategies.

For example, suppose IT staff find their organization shifting toward a more customized cloud model. In that case, they can leverage knowledge gained from Certified Cloud Practitioner training to earn Certified Solutions Architect Associate status. They can then further specialize in Amazon expertise domains, including security, machine learning, or even big data — all of which can help boost overall compensation.

Up-and-Coming: AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals

Initially seen as a Windows-focused cloud environment with little broad appeal, Microsoft's ongoing work is changing industry attitudes toward Azure. This work has helped the company claim the second spot behind AWS in enterprise cloud deployments.

It makes sense; with so many organizations leveraging the Windows OS, Windows Server, and Microsoft Office for day-to-day operations, implementing the Azure cloud is the logical next step. But managing this cloud requires IT expertise — as a result, AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals certification now translates to compensation of $126,000 or more. Combined with more in-depth training in Azure administration or development, IT pros can enjoy both financial security and significant opportunity as Microsoft Azure environments evolve to meet enterprise cloud computing expectations.

Skills to Pay the Bills

With cloud computing skills and certifications in-demand, as organizations look to expand cloud environments and reduce operational complexity, compensation for qualified IT personnel is rising.

For IT pros looking to maximize starting salaries, Google-focused options currently top the charts. If stability and salary potential are the priority, then AWS certifications are a solid choice. Finally, the expanding impact of Azure adoption makes Microsoft's entry-level qualification an up-and-coming option.

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