Career / Career Progression

Want to Become a Cloud Administrator? Here's What to Do First

by Team Nuggets
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Published on December 8, 2023

Cloud computing has become the cornerstone of today’s IT infrastructure. Businesses, large and small, are migrating to the cloud because of how efficient and scalable it is, not to mention the security benefits. 

Therefore, the role of a cloud administrator has become essential, and the demand for professionals in this field has increased drastically. 

Becoming a cloud administrator might be perfect for you if you're looking for a career in a cutting-edge industry and enjoy managing complex systems (while making a pile of money). 

Before we dig into the steps to get you there, let's ensure we understand what the role entails and your responsibilities. 

What is a Cloud Administrator?

A cloud administrator is the steward of an organization's cloud computing environment. They oversee and manage the cloud systems that businesses rely upon. To simplify it, cloud admins ensure that everything goes as planned when a company needs to access its data or run applications on the internet. 

Since cloud computing has been on the rise for some time, more IT professionals are pivoting in this direction. Another reason why cloud administrators are growing in numbers is the high, potentially six-figure salary from the get-go, which can’t be said for all IT niches. 

Cloud administrators work with different cloud environments, including public, private, and hybrid clouds, and with platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). To succeed, they need not only a high level of technical expertise but also exceptional project management skills. 

The Responsibilities of a Cloud Administrator

One of the primary duties of a cloud administrator is to transition locally hosted infrastructures over to the cloud. This must be planned carefully, along with migrating data and applications from the on-premises hardware to the cloud-based environment. 

It’s a pretty complex process. Thus, the admin will need a deep understanding of the original and target environments to minimize downtime and ensure the systems function correctly after the migration. 

Beyond the transition, cloud administrators are also in charge of configuring the cloud environment to meet the needs of whichever organization they belong to, sometimes by setting up virtual machines and managing network settings and storage options. That said, the responsibilities of a cloud administrator have become more varied. 

That’s where the ‘administrator’ part comes into play, as a cloud admin must know all the latest tools they’ll eventually have to use. High-level admins know everything from building automated workflows to helping the frontend team integrate a React docx editor into a website. 

Cloud admins are also sometimes the architects of data management systems. They decide how data is stored, which data is accessible, and how it can be recovered in case of loss. The skillset requires a strategic mindset since the admin must balance cost with accessibility and security. 

Qualifications and Skills Necessary to Become a Cloud Administrator

Becoming a cloud administrator requires different qualifications and skills, which can vary by job and organization. Below, we'll explore some essentials: 

Technical Qualifications

  • Operating systems knowledge: A substantial understanding of Linux and Windows is crucial – most cloud environments operate on one or both. You'll need to be comfortable with the command line, the scripting, and the system administration to succeed.

  • Cloud service providers: Certifications in leading cloud services like AWS Certified SysOps Administrator, Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate, or the Google Associate Cloud Engineer are great for providing foundational understanding and look great on your resume as well.

  • Networking: Understanding network design and operation, including internet protocols, DNS, VPNs, and firewalls, is necessary for managing cloud-based networks securely.

  • Database management: Familiarity with Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle is beneficial since cloud administrators usually manage the data in the cloud.

  • Security: Knowledge of cybersecurity principles is important due to the sensitive nature of data. Most cloud administrators know about encryption, identity access management (IAM), security protocols, and even the types of identity theft, so they can better assist in data security. 

Soft Skills

  • Problem-solving: Being a cloud administrator means you’ll encounter new and complex challenges that will require you to be innovative in solving problems. 

  • Project Management: Transitioning to the cloud is a project in itself. As an administrator, you need to be able to plan and manage these projects from beginning to end.

  • Communication: You must be able to communicate problems and their proposed solutions to both technical team members and non-technical executives alike. 

The Path to Becoming a Cloud Administrator

Now that you understand what a cloud administrator is and the responsibilities you will encounter, let’s talk about where to start: 

1. Education and Training

A formal degree in computer science or information technology is the most direct path to becoming a cloud administrator. That said, there are other paths – online classes or boot camps can provide the necessary certificates and knowledge. 

2. Practical Experience

Hands-on experience is just as important as education, if not more so to an employer. Begin with setting up your own cloud server and experimenting with different services. Get yourself comfortable with the tools/interfaces that cloud service providers offer. This gives you the real, practical experience you need to land a role. 

3. Certification

Industry-recognized certifications bolster your knowledge and your credibility in the job market. It’s best not to start with the more advanced credentials – begin with entry-level and work your way up as you gain experience. 

4. Build a Portfolio

As you gain experience, document your projects. This could be anything from the infrastructure you've set up or complex problems you've solved. A portfolio is a surefire way to show off your skills to potential employers.

Advanced Learning for Cloud Administrators 

If you're looking to increase your chances of becoming a cloud administrator — or if you're a cloud administrator looking to improve your job prospects — consider leaning into advanced learning opportunities. 


After mastering the basics, it’s time to think about specialization. There are many specialization options, including security, big data, machine learning, or mastering specific services like AWS’s database offerings or Microsoft Azure’s AI. When you take the time to deepen your knowledge, you can set yourself apart as a subject matter expert in that specialization. 

Use Automation

One area where cloud administrators can shine is automation. As a cloud admin, you can become seriously efficient by automating repetitive tasks with scripting languages like Python, Ruby, or PowerShell. Understanding tools like Terraform or CloudFormation (which allow you to provision and manage infrastructure as code) is becoming a necessary skill set. These capabilities enable businesses to scale up their operations very quickly and minimize the chance of human error.

Stay Up-to-Date on the Industry 

This is true throughout the tech world, but it’s especially important for cloud administrators. Follow cloud providers’ updates, participate in community discussions, and don’t skip out on learning opportunities. Go to conferences and workshops to learn about new technology and trends in your vocation. 

Mentorship and Leadership

As you gain experience, seek out mentorship opportunities. This can mean being mentored or mentoring others. Teaching others is often recognized as one of the best ways to reinforce your own understanding of a topic. Leadership skills become increasingly important as you move up the ladder— especially when you are overseeing teams or departments.


If you think you can handle cloud infrastructure on a daily basis and want to jump up a few tax brackets, becoming a cloud administrator is the way to go. Likewise, you can easily pivot to become a cloud engineer or even architect, both positions that are expected to grow and yield an average salary in the $150k ballpark

The path to becoming a cloud administrator is filled with learning and growth opportunities. If you can build a strong foundation in cloud basics while focusing on finding a good specialization, you can easily find and keep a great position as a cloud admin. Remember to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and develop the leadership skills you need for a fulfilling and dynamic career that keeps you on your toes. 


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