pressmaster - Fotolia


Tips to stay on top as AWS careers heat up

It can be difficult to determine which career path is best to land an AWS-focused job. Fortunately, with career options increasing, IT professionals can put in some work toward a big reward.

Cloud computing jobs -- and those pertaining to AWS careers, specifically -- are on the rise, and qualified candidates should see no shortage of opportunities. But the catch of the cloud is that it constantly evolves, pushed by vendor competition and internal pressures to release new services. As a job seeker, it can be difficult to keep up with the requisite technology as new and recycled concepts constantly hit the market.

IT professionals can specialize in particular components of the cloud -- compute, storage, security, analytics -- or a specific vendor -- AWS, Azure, OpenStack, VMware. Or they can try to keep up with the concepts in a broader sense. Still, it can be difficult to determine the right path to the ideal job.

Opinions vary when it comes to building a resume worthy of an AWS cloud job, but these common questions and answers should help job seekers plan AWS careers.

What's the best way to build up my AWS skills?

The popularity of AWS has led to a veritable ecosystem of partners and vendors looking to stake their claim in the market. But AWS does its part, educating customers on its platform with introductory videos, self-paced labs and training courses. The cloud provider also offers specialized instructor-led programs for executives and administrators throughout is AWS Business Essentials course as well as the AWS Technical Essentials training for those working hands-on with the cloud.

In a further attempt to strengthen its market position in the future, Amazon announced its AWS Educate program, which offers free membership to qualified institutions, educators and students. Essentially, AWS is teaching the next generation of cloud professionals how to use its technologies, which, in theory, results in future loyalty and familiarity.

Where can I receive hands-on AWS guidance?

In addition to AWS-hosted labs, several other vendors offer self-paced programs designed to simulate real-world use of a particular cloud service. For example, qwikLABS offers training on a variety of AWS topics -- from storage to analytics.

Of course, not every training company is solely focused on AWS. Consider vendor-neutral training as a means to round out your skill set. Cloud Academy, CBT Nuggets, CompTIA and Cloud School are just a handful of the cloud training programs available. The cloud expands into many different areas of business, so an understanding of cloud-related business skills should also be considered, such as training to learn the practical applications of Agile and DevOps methodologies.

What cloud certifications and skills are absolutely necessary?

AWS offers official certification in five categories, and many in the industry consider it a baseline level of AWS intelligence. These AWS certifications cover material intended for solutions architects, developers, SysOps administrators and DevOps engineers. Solutions architects lead that group in average annual earnings, but the diversity of cloud products and services means that AWS careers can be equally varied.

It's important to keep abreast of the most popular programming languages on the market, as those will be largely synonymous from cloud to cloud. Similarly, knowledge of those languages can help IT professionals keep up with the work of contemporaries on repositories, such as GitHub. The collaborative nature of the cloud, particularly as it pertains to open source tools, promotes more overall knowledge and diverse deployments.

Is an AWS certification worth the time and money?

While few veteran cloud professionals will shun the idea of acquiring certification, some have a more pessimistic view of their value. Certification might meet a requirement for many AWS careers, which likely makes it worth the effort. But, at the end of the day, a piece of paper can only prove so much.

Once you understand the basic skills -- whether certified or not -- it's important to think progressively. Cloud computing pushed the boundaries of traditional application development, data center infrastructure and data storage practices. With cloud providers pushing each other and the constant demand for new services to appeal to different industries, AWS can only head further skyward, lest it risk falling behind. Job seekers need hands-on experience and must be willing to learn emerging concepts and trends.

Next Steps

Skills, certifications help land AWS jobs

Experience in the trenches helps IT pros gain certification

AWS Educate provides skills for next generation

Dig Deeper on AWS support, licensing and SLAs