What Is a Cloud Engineer? Building and Maintaining the Cloud

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A cloud engineer helps create, maintain, and troubleshoot cloud infrastructure. Learn about being a cloud engineer while exploring the skills, experience, and certifications needed to land a job in this growing technological field.

[Featured image] A cloud engineer wearing an orange sweater works at her laptop with a hot beverage in an office.

A cloud engineer is an IT professional who builds and maintains cloud infrastructure. Cloud engineers can have more specific roles, such as cloud architecting (designing cloud solutions for organizations), development (coding for the cloud), and administration (working with cloud networks). 

Cloud technology has become ubiquitous in recent years. In fact, you probably use cloud-based technology in your everyday life. Watching TV or listening to music on your favourite streaming services, using an online email platform, or backing up your phone pictures to the internet is all possible due to cloud technology. 

For a company, the cloud means it can store and back up data more easily, roll out software updates on-demand, and its customers can access their information from different devices. As a cloud engineer, you’ll work behind the scenes to keep it all running.

Salary and job growth

According to Glassdoor, a cloud engineer in Canada earns an average salary is $95,629 [1]. Earning potential can be influenced by years of experience, industry, location, and education level.

Cloud computing is also a field that is expected to grow in the next decade as companies continue to adopt cloud technology. Forecasts project cloud services to grow three times more than other IT services through 2024 [2].

What does a cloud engineer do every day?

A cloud engineer’s role can vary depending on the company. "My role as a Strategic Cloud Engineer at Google is to help Google Cloud customers architect and build systems on the Google Cloud Platform," Ben Miller says of his role. I offer systems design, product guidance, and education regarding best practices in GCP. I also work with Google Cloud product teams to improve GCP and our customers' experiences."

A cloud engineer’s day-to-day tasks might include: 

  • Helping organizations migrate their computer systems to the cloud

  • Configuring cloud infrastructure components like networking and security services

  • Creating the applications and databases that perform on the cloud

  • Monitoring cloud management and data storage services

How to become a cloud engineer

You can set yourself up to be competitive for cloud engineering jobs by getting the right skills and experience, and perhaps a certification.

1. Develop relevant skills.

IT jobs with cloud-related tasks include systems engineer, network engineer, and database administrator. If you’re already in an IT role, look for opportunities to grow in these areas. 

  • Cloud platforms: Experts recommend learning one cloud platform well instead of having minimal knowledge of several. By market share, the four largest cloud infrastructure providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud in 2021. Much of what you learn in one cloud platform may be transferable to another, with slight variations.

  • Data storage and security: How to access, store, and protect data are each an important part of a cloud worker.

  • Networking: Knowing networking basics and virtual networks will be useful in integrating networks with cloud services.

  • Programming: Common languages used in cloud computing include Python, Java, Golang, or Ruby. 

  • Operating systems: You should have a strong understanding of operating systems, such as Windows and Linux.

2. Build hands-on experience.

You can gain hands-on experience working with the cloud in several ways. If you’re in an IT role, try approaching your manager to see if there are opportunities for you to shadow coworkers in cloud computing roles or if you can take on tasks that will help you learn more cloud principles. You can also sign up for a cloud platform account and begin exploring independently.

You can also dive into the cloud through several courses or Guided Projects—interactive learning experiences you can complete in two hours or less—such as:

3. Earn a certification.

Certification can be helpful in building up technical skills and showing employers you have a baseline of knowledge of the cloud. If you’re new to the cloud, try a foundational certification—like the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals AZ-900. These can help you learn the technology and vocabulary of the field. 

If you have a little cloud knowledge, you can consider more technical certifications. These can include an associate-level AWS certification or the Google Associate Cloud Engineer certification.

4. Prepare for interview success.

Practice answering common technical interview questions you might encounter during a live job interview. "I think mock interviews are a fantastic way to get comfortable with the process," advises Miller. "If you can find someone to practice interviewing with, you can flex your technical knowledge and practice being comfortable having a conversation with an interviewer."

"If I ask a candidate to solve a technical problem and they don't know how to go about it, I want someone who can acknowledge that fact quickly but is still able to have a conversation around how they would map the knowledge and experience that they do have to the problem," continues Miller. "In IT, when you encounter a problem you've never seen before, it's probably just a weekday."

Cloud engineer career path

If you have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, you may be able to land an entry-level cloud engineering position. That’s not the only path you can take. 

Many cloud professionals get their start in IT positions that include concepts used in cloud work. These can include systems engineers, network engineers, DevOps engineers, and database administrators. From there, you might become a cloud engineer or cloud administrator. Cloud engineers can go on to more specialized roles, like cloud architects.

Do I need a degree to become a cloud engineer?

Although some employers might prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees, they’re not necessary to become a cloud engineer. Many professionals work their way up to cloud engineering and beyond by gaining the necessary skills and experience. That said, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or IT might fast-track you to a cloud position.


If you’re curious, these are the average annual salaries for various cloud professionals in Canada. All data comes from Talent.com as of May 2024 [3].

  • Cloud administrator: $113,490

  • Cloud network engineer: $105,000

  • Cloud systems engineer: $122,852

  • AWS cloud engineer salary: $146,250

  • Azure cloud engineer: $111,250

  • Cloud DevOps engineer: $130,000

  • Cloud software engineer: $105,000

  • Google cloud engineer salary: $130,000

  • Cloud data engineer: $130,000

  • Cloud architect: $121,800

Getting started in the cloud

Cloud is an exciting, dynamic IT field with steady demand. Gaining the skills to work with the cloud can help you discover an interesting career helping organizations stay at the forefront of technological innovation. 

If you’re ready to get started in a cloud computing career, consider enrolling in the Starting Your Career with AWS Cloud Specialization on Coursera. This program covers topics like cloud operations on AWS, cloud computing, data analytics on AWS, and more. Learners will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and perform tasks that are common in a cloud computing role. Upon completion, earn a certificate to include in your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Cloud Engineer Salaries in Canada,https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/canada-cloud-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IN3_KO7,21.htm#:~:text=The%20average%20salary%20for%20Cloud,per%20year%20in%20the%20Canada." Accessed May 20, 2024.

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