Cloud Architect: Definition, Certifications, Jobs

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A cloud architect designs and implements an organization’s transition to cloud computing. Discover how this senior IT role operates and different cloud architect job opportunities.

[Featured image] A cloud architect sits at a desk and works on two computer monitors.

A cloud architect is responsible for an organization’s cloud computing system. Instead of designing networks of servers, the cloud architect develops the cloud adoption plan, determines the cloud application design, and then creates systems for managing, monitoring, and maintaining the cloud system. 

If you’re interested in becoming a cloud architect, there are several steps you can take early in your career to prepare you for this senior role. You’ll need to understand cloud computing fundamentals, know the pros and cons of working in the cloud, be familiar with the different vendors to make solid recommendations, and communicate well with people at all levels of the organization.

What does a cloud architect do?

Cloud architects create, optimize, and maintain cloud computing solutions for clients, such as tech research companies, cloud computing businesses, information technology (IT) providers, or IT departments. The components—or architecture—of cloud-based solutions they will work with include:

  • Front-end platforms

  • Back-end platforms

  • Cloud-based data delivery

  • Networks

Cloud architects usually work with a team of IT professionals such as DevOps engineers and software developers to help deliver final projects that solve organizations’ cloud computing needs. Specific tasks and responsibilities can include:

  • Designing the cloud environment for a company based on its requirements

  • Monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing the cloud environment

  • Collaborating with other technology team members to complete projects

  • Creating cloud-based applications that are efficient and secure

  • Converting the technical requirements of projects into suitable architecture

  • Ensuring cloud solutions and operations are reliable

  • Staying abreast of new technologies and trends in cloud computing 

Read more: Computer Science vs. Information Technology: Careers, Degrees, and More

Cloud architect degrees and certifications 

Becoming a cloud architect requires a combination of education, skill development, and certification. Generally, a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, information architecture, cloud computing, or a related field is required, and certification is always necessary to qualify as a cloud architect. 

Typical coursework you'll complete when pursuing a cloud computing bachelor's degree may include:

  • Cloud computing platforms, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS)

  • IT foundations

  • Web and cloud security

  • Web development

  • Scripting and programming

  • IT management

  • Networks

  • Cloud security

  • Cloud application development

  • Scripting in the cloud

Certification is required to become a cloud architect. A bachelor's degree in cloud computing may include certification in cloud platforms, but different cloud service providers also offer their own certification programs. The certification process builds technical knowledge and shows employers your skills are current. 

Having certifications from a few different cloud vendors may aid you in choosing which is best for the organization that hires you. Choose certifications based on the platforms you are interested in or those required by your current or prospective employer. Some examples of certificates include:

  • Google Professional Cloud Architect

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

  • Google Associate Cloud Engineer

  • IBM Certified Technical Advocate - Cloud v3

  • Linux Professional Institute Linux Essentials

  • CompTIA Cloud+

Read more: 7 Popular Cloud Security Certifications

Cloud architect skills 

Cloud architecture is a senior position that requires strong communication, management, and presentation skills. Review the lists below of additional technical and workplace skills for cloud architects.

Technical skills of a cloud architect

  • Programming, including experience with several programming languages

  • Automating processes and working with legacy information systems

  • Knowledge of Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby on Rails

  • Ability to integrate several parts of an organization’s IT system in one place

  • Understanding how databases, networks, and other critical functions work

  • Proficiency in IT security to protect information in the cloud from unauthorized internal users and malicious external hackers.

Read more: Popular Programming Languages in 2022

Workplace skills of a cloud architect

  • Effective communication skills to deal with stakeholders inside and outside of your organization, including entry-level programmers, business managers, project team members, and senior executives 

  • Project management and collaboration skills to create effective cloud solutions through a team effort.

  • Ability to organize people and instill trust so they can come to you with problems with the cloud software.

Cloud architect salary and job outlook

Average annual base salary:  $122,750 [1]

Job growth outlook (2021-2031): 15% [2]

For cloud architects, the total pay ranges from $119,000 to $331,000 depending on factors like years of experience, location, and company size [1].

The cloud computing market is part of the computer and information technology industry. Gartner predicts a 21.3 percent year-over-year increase in global cloud services in 2023 [3]. This growth is attributed to the growing use of cloud computing through the adoption of digitization worldwide and increased automation and agility.

10 Cloud architect jobs

Just as there are many paths to becoming a cloud architect, there’s also more than one type of cloud architect job you can explore. You may create and work with cloud architecture across many areas like app development, security, and data management. You could also earn cloud architect certifications to specialize in specific platforms like Microsoft Azure, Hadoop, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

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professional certificate

AWS Cloud Solutions Architect

Start here to become an AWS Solutions Architect. Gain the skills and knowledge to design architectural solutions on AWS and prepare for your AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam.

4.8

(40 ratings)

2,181 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

AWS Certification Preparation, Cloud Architecture, Architecting on AWS, Data Lakes, AWS Management Console, AWS Identity and Access Management, Networking on AWS, Cloud Computing, aws security, Software Architecture, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), AWS Account Management, Data Science, Analytics, Big Data, Data Lake, Amazon Web Services (Amazon AWS), Cloud Computing Security, Cloud Computing Architecture, AWS cloud

Some typical cloud architect jobs include: 

*All annual base salary data sourced from Glassdoor November 2022

1. AWS solutions architect

In this role, you'll use the AWS cloud to design, build, manage, and maintain different solutions and applications. You may also move non-cloud systems into the cloud, secure the cloud, and assess the risk of working with third-party cloud providers and platforms.

Average annual base salary (US): $119,482

2. Azure cloud architect

As an Azure architect, you'll use Microsoft Azure to create and implement cloud solutions, projects, and systems. You may also provide systems support and participate in workshops to ensure everything meets the client’s needs. 

Average annual base salary (US): $115,298

3. OpenStack architect 

In this role, you'll use OpenStack, a modular open-source cloud infrastructure and platform, to create, design, manage, and maintain cloud solutions. You may work with private or public clouds and use OpenStack to perform network functions like virtualization, among other tasks and duties. 

Average annual base salary (US): $99,670

4. Cloud network architect

In this role, you'll focus on assessing cloud network environments so you can maximize performance and efficiency while finding any potential gaps. You'll also create and develop strategies for the cloud network, analyze emerging network technologies, and help with any necessary network troubleshooting.

Average annual base salary (US): $122,719

5. Cloud platform architect

In this role, you may design and deploy cloud platforms and be involved in the implementation process and creating cloud platforms to meet company needs. You also may mentor new members of the team and lead various projects. 

Average annual base salary (US): $137,170

6. Cloud infrastructure architect 

In this role, you'll oversee the entire cloud ecosystem, including designing and adopting cloud solutions, monitoring the cloud, and negotiating contracts with cloud support and service providers.

Average annual base salary (US): $131,018

7. Cyber solutions architect

In this role, you'll be responsible for defending the security of cloud-based platforms and applications and taking offensive measures as needed. For example, you may perform penetration testing, oversee changes made to the network, and implement firewalls. 

Average annual base salary (US): $113,003 

8. Junior cloud solutions architect

In this entry-level role, you may create front-end or back-end cloud platforms, cloud network architecture, or cloud delivery systems. You may interact with clients or executives, particularly if you work on front-end platforms. 

Average annual base salary (US): $99,499

9. Principal cloud architect

As a principal cloud architect, you'll lead in creating the framework, architecture, and design of cloud platforms and solutions. You'll also help other team members by providing technical guidance to ensure each project is completed reliably and effectively, in addition to liaising between the IT and other departments within the organization. 

Average annual base salary (US): $142,288

10. Senior cloud architect

At the senior level, you'll be expected to have extensive technical knowledge of and skills in working with various cloud platforms. You'll be tasked with mapping out solutions to improve an organization's growth and customer experience. You may work with cloud engineers and other IT team members to design and deploy cloud computing technologies and manage the cloud.

Average annual base salary (US): $135,859

Next steps

If you already have a bachelor's degree in a related IT field, you can continue to build skills with online courses such as Introduction to Cloud Computing offered by IBM. You can also prepare for certification exams with courses like Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Architect Professional Certificate or Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate on Coursera. 

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course

Introduction to Cloud Computing

This course introduces you to the core concepts of cloud computing. You gain the foundational knowledge required for understanding cloud computing from a ...

4.7

(2,895 ratings)

134,437 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Cloud Native, Devops, Iaas PaaS Saas, Hybrid Multicloud, Cloud Computing

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Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Architect

Advance your career in cloud architecture.

4.8

(10,180 ratings)

41,284 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 5 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine (GAE), Google Cloud Platform, Cloud Computing, Virtual Machine, Network Architecture, Debugging, Cloud Storage, Data Store, Load Balancing, Virtual Private Network (VPN), Autoscaling, Disaster Recovery, Site Reliability Engineering

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Exam Prep: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

This new intermediate-level course from Amazon Web Services (AWS) is designed to help you to assess your preparedness for the AWS Certified Solutions ...

4.7

(34 ratings)

9,957 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 1 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Cloud Computing Security, Cloud Computing Architecture, AWS cloud

Article sources

1

Glassdoor. "Cloud Architect Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-cloud-architect-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,18.htm." Accessed November 21, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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