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June 26, 2013

The power of cloud certifications

By cloud power

Are you still worrying about losing your admin job to the cloud? Cloud services have been around long enough now that this shouldn’t be the case. In fact, if you have any experience integrating the cloud into a business, you should know that you’re more in-demand than ever. Sure, that cloud email server or CRM is one less set of hardware you need to run. But it’s not much use to the company unless it integrates with all the on-premise systems you’re still using.

If you’re still agnostic about cloud (or actively hostile), it’s a good time to change your mind. It’s not just that 65 percent of people making decisions about IT plans told IDC they either are or will be using enterprise-grade cloud within a year (and 79% of them told Savvis they see cloud as a great way to integrate with existing systems, so cloud is changing your job, not replacing it). It’s also where the budget is going.

IDC predicts that spending worldwide on professional services related to building or implementing the cloud will go up 29.2 percent to $20 billion by 2016. That means it’s where the job opportunities are.

More cloud, more cloud job opportunities

IDC estimates the cloud helped create 1.5 million new IT jobs in 2011 and could create as many seven million new cloud-related jobs worldwide by 2015, with 2.7 million of those in the U.S. and Canada. Official government estimates say IT jobs in the US will grow as little as 1-3 percent per year till 2020; that’s 2.5 percent for admin jobs. But the demand for cloud skills is going to grow far faster: 22 percent a year in North America, according to IDC. In the U.S., IDC expects more of the growth is in integrating public cloud, while Canada seems to prefer private cloud IT services, as do EMEA and Asia Pacific. US companies who’ve invested in public cloud services could easily see the advantages of private cloud and then you’ll need the skills for working with public, private and hybrid clouds.

IDC cloud jobs

Those skills are in demand already. Hiring managers say they couldn’t find enough people to fill 1.7 million cloud-related jobs in 2012. Sometimes that was because applicants didn’t have the training and the experience, and sometimes it was because they didn’t have the certification. That’s increasingly important.  Back in 2011, 89 percent of hiring managers in the CompTIA survey said they want certification to confirm that you have the knowledge and expertise they need, and 84 percent of them think certification proves you can work hard and achieve goals. That’s especially true of an MCSE, because you have to get recertified, which proves you can stay up to date on changing technologies (which certainly applies to cloud).

Cloud certs can make you money

Being certified for cloud skills could make the difference in getting a new job. Could it also get you a better salary? Ken Rosen, director of Microsoft Learning, told the press at TechEd he thinks so, although he notes that if you’re just looking at the average salary for different IT roles “that doesn’t tell you the premium for certification.” When you look at the Payscale salary survey for January 2013, the higher-paid roles that don’t mean going into development, database design or business intelligence are the ones that match Microsoft cloud certifications.


MCSE has been “reinvented for the cloud,” he says. As well as the Microsoft Private Cloud certification, even the MCSE in server infrastructure covers cloud-optimised IT infrastructure. As Chris Anderson, author of the IDC study on the cloud skills gap, puts it “there is no area of the IT organization that will be unaffected by a transition to cloud computing.”

cloud skills

The range of skills you need go from understanding the value and risks of cloud computing to actually implementing it. If you’re going to be looking for a new job or just a better one, getting the certification to show you have those could give your career a big step up.

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About the Author

has been a technology journalist for over two decades, and she’s been the formal or informal IT admin for most of the offices she’s worked in along the way. She was delighted to see the back of Netware 3.11, witnessed the AOL meltdown first-hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and has been a freelance tech writer ever since. She's used every version of Windows (client and server) and Office released, and every smartphone too. Her favourite programming language is Prolog, giving her a soft spot for Desired State Configuration in PowerShell 4. And yes, she really does wear USB earrings. Find her on Twitter @marypcbuk.

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