Strike while it's hot: Create your own cloud career opportunities

The cloud is a great space for more money and new challenges, but you may need to be creative to get in on the action

According to Wanted Analytics, there are 3.9 million jobs in the United States affiliated with cloud computing today, with 384,478 in IT alone. The median salary for IT professionals with cloud computing experience is $90,950.

Globally, there are 18,239,258 cloud computing jobs, says Wanted Analytics, with the plurality in China (40.8 percent). The growth in the United States has been fueled largely by enterprises seeking cloud talent to get their migration projects on track. Both cloud architects and developers seem to be in high demand.

How do you cash in? First, always look at new and emerging trends, such as cloud, big data, and the Internet of things. These surges create new demand for skills. In the case of cloud, the technology is cloudy (sorry, I could not resist). "Cloud" means so many things to so many people, and it's becoming systemic to most technologies. Thus, it has both legitimate and illegitimate meanings.

If you want to join the cloud segment of IT, you need to focus on a specialty in the cloud, not just "the cloud." I would focus on cloud architecture, design, and deployment, as well as application migration and cloud integration with devops approaches, the areas where much of the growth is occurring.

What's the best way to drive toward these jobs? Don't beg for good training -- there is simply not a lot available with access to the insider knowledge you need when moving to the cloud. Instead, the best approach is to beg, borrow, or steal to get on any internal cloud project. You'll learn by doing and come out with many skills that are in high demand.

Not all organizations are deep into the cloud. What if there are no projects to work on at your company? In that case, consider opportunities outside your company, perhaps with consulting organizations that are willing to hire good IT workers who can quickly learn about cloud-based systems. Or look at other enterprises seeking new blood to staff cloud-migration projects.

The path to cloud computing skills -- and the good salaries that come with them -- requires some innovation and persistence on your part, as well as some risk. But keep at it; you'll find both the skills and the money -- and new satisfaction.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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