How to get your first cloud computing job

With the explosion of cloud computing jobs, now is the time to map your path to more money and more cloud

Cloud computing is expanding rapidly, with an accompanying need for for cloud computing "experts" to make this technology work. That translates into many new jobs chasing very few qualified candidates. At the same time, many IT professionals are attempting to figure out how they can cash in on the cloud.

Most of the cloud jobs to be found these days require deep knowledge around a particular technology, such as Amazon Web Services, OpenStack, Salesforce.com, or Azure. This is typically due to the fact that the company has standardized on a cloud technology. I call these jobs cloud technology specialists, in that they focus on a specific cloud technology: development, implementation, management, and so on.

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Others jobs would be cloud planning or architecture positions, often around the configuration of new systems in the cloud or the migration of existing systems to the cloud. I call these cloud planners. While you'd think candidates for this position would also be in demand, in most instances the listings are filled by existing IT staffers who understand full well that having cloud computing experience on their CV translates into larger paychecks going forward. You can't blame them.

Those looking to break into cloud computing will have the best luck by learning a specific technology, then taking a cloud technology specialist job. The trick is getting the initial experience.

The most ambitious candidates will begin their own "shadow IT" projects using a hot cloud computing technology, then soon find their way to a formal and high-paying cloud gig. Cloud computing is littered with stories about self-taught successes, due to the lack of formal training offered.

Those seeking higher-level jobs such as cloud planners and architects won't entertain as many options, but they can be found. The best way to prepare for these jobs is to understand all you can about the technology, including use cases and existing architectural best practices and approaches.

If there's an upside to the emergence of cloud computing, it's the number of job opportunities it's creating, much like any hyped technology trend we've seen in the past. Cloud computing, however, is a further-reaching, more systemic change in the way we consume technology. Thus, the job growth around this change will last for many years. Perhaps it's time to take advantage.

This article, "How to get your first cloud computing job," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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