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The 5 Best Cloud Certifications to Kick-Start Your Career in 2024

Explore the best cloud certifications for 2024 in our comprehensive guide. Discover how certifications like AWS, Azure, and CompTIA Cloud+ can boost your career.
Nov 2023  · 9 min read

Cloud technology plays a critical role in the modern world, and cloud certifications are key for professionals aiming to demonstrate their expertise and enhance their career prospects. These certifications are not just about gaining knowledge; they also open doors to higher salaries and a range of career opportunities in a digital-first world.

This article will guide you through some of the best cloud certifications for 2024, tailored for data science practitioners at all levels. Whether you're starting in cloud computing or seeking advanced expertise, this guide will help you navigate the choices to boost your professional growth.

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Is a Cloud Certification Worth It?

There is an old debate about whether hands-on experience or qualifications are most beneficial when looking for a job, and the same applies to working with cloud applications. Ultimately, a combination of both is preferable, although there are certainly many benefits of getting certified:

  • Skill validation: Certifications are a testament to your skills and commitment to professional development, often sought after by employers.
  • Networking opportunities: Engaging in certification courses and exams connects you with a community of like-minded professionals and experts.
  • Higher salary potential: Certified professionals often command higher salaries due to their demonstrated expertise and the high demand for cloud skills.

Staying current: The tech field is dynamic, and certifications ensure you stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices.

The benefits of cloud certification

The benefits of cloud certification - source

Whether a cloud certification is right for you depends on your current level of experience, career goals, and whether you can dedicate sufficient time and resource to getting certified.

Choosing the Right Cloud Certification

If you’re trying to find the best cloud certification for your needs, there are several factors that you need to consider before making your choice:

  • Vendor-specific vs. vendor-neutral certifications: There are two primary types of cloud certifications - vendor-specific (like AWS, Azure, or GCP) and vendor-neutral (like CompTIA Cloud+). Vendor-specific certifications focus on specific platforms, while vendor-neutral ones provide a broad understanding applicable across various platforms.
  • Choosing based on career needs: Your choice should depend on your career goals, the industry you are in or wish to enter, and the predominant cloud services used there.
  • Cost: As we’ll see, there are a range of options when it comes to the financial cost of a cloud certification, which could impact your choice.
  • Commitment: Some certifications take longer to attain than others, and the workload can differ. It’s worth considering how you’re going to fit your studies around your existing commitments.

The Top Cloud Certifications for 2024

Let’s look at some of the best cloud certifications you can work towards today. These represent a range of choices, covering different audiences, skills, and career pathways.

1. Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer

  • Target audience: Professionals aiming to specialize in cloud-based DevOps roles, particularly within the Google Cloud Platform.
  • Key skills covered: Building software delivery pipelines, managing incidents, deploying, and monitoring services.
  • Career pathways: Specifically designed for roles in cloud DevOps engineering.
  • Experience needed: ~3 years of industry experience, including a year of hands-on experience with Goolge Cloud.
  • Cost: $200.

2. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

  • Target audience: Experienced IT professionals focusing on cloud security.
  • Key skills covered: Cloud design, data security, compliance, and risk management.
  • Career pathways: Ideal for IT, cyber, information and software security leaders.
  • Experience needed: ~5 years of industry experience
  • Cost: $599.

3. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

  • Target audience: Beginners with some on-the-job experience, looking to specialize in Microsoft Azure.
  • Key skills covered: Azure computing, storage, networking, and security services.
  • Career pathways: Tailored for roles in Azure administration and cloud support.
  • Experience needed: Some industry experience, including hands-on experience using an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment.
  • Cost: $165

4. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate (CSAA)

  • Target audience: Professionals with some AWS experience seeking to advance their career.
  • Key skills covered: Building and deploying applications on AWS, defining cloud solutions, and offering implementation guidance.
  • Career pathways: Suitable for solutions architect roles and advanced positions in AWS cloud services.
  • Experience needed: Experience with AWS technology is needed, although no deep hands-on coding experience is necessary.
  • Cost: $150

5. CompTIA Cloud+

  • Target audience: Those seeking a vendor-neutral understanding of cloud computing.
  • Key skills covered: Cloud architecture and design, cloud security, cloud deployment, operations and support, and troubleshooting.
  • Career pathways: Suitable for roles in cloud administration, support, security, and architecture.
  • Experience needed: Recommended having CompTIA Network+ and Server+ and 2-3 years of experience in systems administration or networking.
  • Cost: $358

Which Cloud Certification Should You Start With?

Deciding on the first cloud certification to pursue can be daunting, especially with many options available. The best starting point depends on your current skill level, professional background, and future career aspirations.

For Beginners: Building a Foundation

Beginners are often advised to start with vendor-neutral certifications like CompTIA Cloud+. These provide a broad understanding of cloud concepts that apply across various platforms and can set a solid foundation.

Starting with a broad overview of cloud computing is crucial. It prepares you for more complex, vendor-specific certifications and gives you a better understanding of which cloud platform might align best with your career goals.

For Intermediate Professionals: Specialization and Expansion

If you have some experience in the field, consider pursuing certifications from specific cloud vendors like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. This can be particularly advantageous if you already work in an environment that predominantly uses one of these platforms.

At this stage, focusing on role-specific certifications, such as AWS Certified Solutions Architect or Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer, can help you specialize further and advance in your career.

For Advanced Practitioners: Deepening Expertise

For those with substantial experience in cloud computing, advanced certifications like the AWS Certified Solutions Architect can deepen your expertise and open doors to senior-level positions.

Advanced certifications are often geared towards those looking to take on leadership roles or become cloud architects, focusing on strategic planning, complex problem-solving, and high-level decision-making in cloud environments.

Salary and ROI of Cloud Certifications

These certifications not only validate your expertise but also significantly impact your earning potential. For instance, AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate professionals can earn an average salary of $122,000 per year, while a Certified Cloud Security Professional might command around $124,000 annually.

Similarly, the demand for professionals with these certifications is high as organizations increasingly migrate to cloud solutions and prioritize cloud security and efficient cloud infrastructure management.

How to Prepare for Cloud Certification Exams

Preparing for cloud certification exams requires a comprehensive learning approach that encompasses understanding key concepts, practical applications, and exam-specific strategies. DataCamp offers a range of courses and resources that can effectively support this journey.

Take foundational courses

Understanding Cloud Computing: A non-coding introduction to cloud computing, covering key concepts, terminology, and tools. This course breaks down the basics of cloud computing, explaining terminology such as scalability, latency, and high availability. It also explores different service models and their applications in various situations​​​​​​.

Move on to specialized courses for AWS certification

AWS Cloud Concepts Course: This course is crucial for data practitioners aiming to master AWS, the market-leading cloud provider. Over 50% of all corporate data is stored in the cloud, and understanding AWS is vital. The course covers AWS’s main core services, design best practices for AWS applications, and the benefits of using AWS for businesses. It serves as an excellent starting point for preparing for the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification​​.

Tailor your study plan

You want to ensure that the courses and resources you choose align with the specific objectives and knowledge areas of the certification you are targeting. Spend time looking at what’s required from your chosen qualification and make sure you’re familiar with all the key concepts.

As we’ve seen, most certifications require practical exercises and real-world scenarios, so you’ll need to apply what you've learned.

Use additional resources

There is a wealth of resources available to help you master the key concepts. Along with courses, you can participate in webinars and join the DataCamp community to gain insights, tips, and networking opportunities with peers and experts.

You can also utilize DataCamp's cheat sheets for quick references and revision aids. Check out our AWS, Azure, and GCP Service Comparison cheat sheet for more info.

Look at other certifications

Depending on your career aims, you may find that a broader scope is necessary. DataCamp offers a range of certifications that cover Python, SQL, and R skills related to specific industry roles. If you’re looking for the best Python certifications, our offering could be the perfect solution.

Our certifications are offered for free to those with DataCamp Premium subscriptions. You can choose from Data Scientist (Associate & Professional), Data Analyst (Associate & Professional), and Data Engineer (Associate) certifications.

DataCamp’s Certifications

DataCamp’s Certifications

Conclusion

As you embark on your cloud certification journey, remember it's a pathway to not just enhancing your skills but also to unlocking new career opportunities.

If you’re just starting on the road to cloud certification, DataCamp's Understanding Cloud Computing course is an excellent starting point. It provides a solid foundation, setting you up for success in more advanced topics and certifications.

Get certified in your dream data role

Our certification programs help you stand out and prove your skills are job-ready to potential employers.

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Matt Crabtree

A writer and content editor in the edtech space. Committed to exploring data trends and enthusiastic about learning data science.

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