27 Honest Cloud Engineer Salaries
As far as job titles in the IT industry go, there aren't many as hard to define as "cloud engineer." What a cloud engineer does, what they're responsible for, what training they should have, and above all, what they should be paid, is a big, open question throughout the country.
For people trying to plan their career, this can be pretty frustrating. If you go through the time, effort and expense of getting trained and certified as a cloud engineer, you want to know how much to ask for in the interview. To help you get paid what you're worth, we've been analyzing tons of information about cloud engineer jobs. Read on: see our results, and use them to get a sense of what a cloud engineer gets paid, and which certifications can make that number go up.
What is a Cloud Engineer?
A cloud engineer is an IT expert who plans, configures, deploys and implements cloud solutions. But if you work in IT or with the cloud, you know that’s a very broad definition. The truth of the matter is that there’s no single definition of cloud engineer. What a cloud engineer does and is responsible for changes based on the company, the size of their network, and the complexity of their cloud requirements.
Broadly speaking, a cloud engineer is a trained IT expert who solves a company’s digital problems with whatever existing cloud architecture they have. Sometimes a cloud engineer is responsible for migrating to new cloud architectures or implementing new systems. But for the most part, cloud engineers are experts at taking a company’s cloud systems and making the absolute most of them. Usually, cloud engineer is a terminal position. In other words, there aren’t many positions much higher than on the career ladder of cloud implementation.
27 Real Salaries for Cloud Engineers
In searching for information about cloud engineer salaries, we’ve scoured the internet. We pulled data from job postings, we got access to salary information for current cloud engineers, and we made use of professional job networking sites. This gave us a sense of what a reasonable salary for a cloud engineer looks like. The surprising thing is how big the spread is.
At the national level, averages of cloud engineer salaries look like they hover at six figures::
The national average salary for a Cloud Engineer is $107,200.
The average high for a Cloud Engineer is $108,000
The average low for a Cloud Engineer is $80,000
But those numbers aren’t nearly as neat and tidy when you look state-by-state. We chose a sample of cities from many different regions of the country and from cities both large and small. This chart shows 27 salary averages for cloud engineers in different cities. You’ll see that the state-by-state numbers are quite different from the national averages:
Salt Lake City
Geography matters for cloud engineer salaries. The first thing you might notice looking at that chart is that five of the top ten highest-paying cloud engineer average salaries come out of California. And five of the 10 lowest-paying states for cloud engineers are low-population, low-density states like South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee and Kansas. The biggest takeaway for cloud engineers looking for more pay might be that you may have to move to find them.
High-paid cloud engineers are paid a lot more than the national average. What the national averages don’t show is that there are many places where the difference between a high-paid cloud engineer and the average is drastic. That suggests that the bracket of highest-paying cloud engineer jobs are also the most competitive. If you’re looking to land a high-paying cloud engineer job, you’ll want to set yourself apart from your competition with as many credentials as you can.
As pay increases, the gap between a high-paying job and a low-paying job increases. You might think that the lowest-paying cloud engineer jobs and the highest-paying ones would increase at about the same rate. And in some places that is the case. The similar increase is probably due to cost of living.
But there are many places where cloud engineers get paid much more than the national average and their lowest-paid counterparts get paid substantially less than average, or elsewhere in the country. It’s hard to say what this means definitively for cloud engineer job prospects in those places. But it suggests that the supply of cloud engineers with little experience is high, but competition amongst highly experienced cloud engineers is strong.
3 Salary Considerations for Cloud Engineer
Like we said earlier, the position of cloud engineer is a hard one to define. And for some people hoping to enter that career field, that might be discouraging. But consider the chart of cloud engineer salaries throughout the country and consider this: maybe that hard-to-define quality is an opportunity — not a problem.
In other words, the wide range of national salaries for cloud engineers suggests that no one really seems to know what a cloud engineer is or does. What that means for you is that if you set yourself apart with training, knowledge and expertise, you help define for yourself and your future employer what it means to be a cloud engineer.
Across the data, three ways for a cloud engineer to set themselves apart become clear: knowing your tools, getting certifications, and choosing your industry.
3 Cloud Engineering Services You'll Need to Know
Cloud administration, cloud development, and cloud architecture are the three pillars of cloud engineering. And dozens of service providers provide them. A successful cloud engineer has to know at least something about the top dogs in that fight — and especially has to know the ones their company uses. These are the three cloud service providers that a cloud engineer simply has to know, and why:
AWS: Cloud Storage and Cloud Compute
It hardly matters what you need to accomplish in cloud computing, AWS almost certainly does it. In fact, the fact that AWS has a service offering for well over 175 cloud storage, compute, database, analytics, networking, mobile, dev tools, security solutions is its hallmark. A cloud engineer who doesn’t know what AWS’ cloud service offerings are or how they interact with one another will struggle to move upward in the salary brackets.
Salary impact: Huge. Especially if your company relies on AWS already, a cloud engineer simply must be familiar with AWS cloud services. They’re the undisputed leader in the field.
Microsoft Azure: Interactivity and Name Recognition
The biggest appeal of Microsoft Azure is usually the name brand recognition. Sure, plenty of people are hesitant about using Microsoft products, but even they have to admit that it’s a name that means something. And Microsoft’s cloud offerings are just as robust as their operating systems. Cloud engineers working on Microsoft Azure should at least be familiar with the interoperability and integration between Azure, Office 365 and Teams — which is one of the key reasons most companies choose Microsoft for cloud solutions.
Salary impact: Big. A cloud engineer who knows how to manage and control the Microsoft Azure cloud services will be valuable to most of the biggest enterprise networks, which already depend on Microsoft for so much of their infrastructure.
Google Cloud: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
It might be the third service on this list, but Google is far from third place in the cloud. There are so many different approaches to cloud compute, storage and processing that it’s hard to give ratings to dozens of providers. But if there’s anything that Google is the hands-down winner in, it’s artificial intelligence and machine learning. Google has been the uncontested giant in the search engine wars for decades, and they’ve put all that data to excellent use. Some of the world’s best paid cloud engineers are the people who open up that AI/ML processing to their companies.
Salary impact: Big. More often than not, when companies choose Google for cloud services over the competition, it’s because they have a highly specific use case they want to optimize. A cloud engineer who can make that a reality will be very well compensated.
4 Best Certifications for Cloud Engineer
There are dozens of cloud engineer certifications available. Most of them come from the same vendor as the service in question (for example, AWS, Google and Microsoft). But certifications issued by professional organizations and third parties are also extremely valuable. At the highest levels, it’s best to choose your certifications based on what work you plan on doing, or the jobs you want to apply for.
In other words, a wide foundation is important but “wide” is a better investment early on. When certs are more expensive and can take months to prepare for, it’s wiser to be choosy.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
When it comes to solutions in the cloud, what doesn’t AWS provide? When Amazon pivoted from delivering shoes and books to providing the backbone for the internet, they pivoted hard. And although the certification has “solutions architect” in the title, a cloud engineer will need to know all the tools and products that this certification validates knowledge in. If you work as a cloud engineer for a company that uses AWS products, with this certification, you’ll be fully trained in using it and incorporating it with all the workloads your company has.
Salary impact of AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional: Huge. Getting a professional-level AWS certification isn’t just a way of concreting your expertise in the tools your company uses, it makes you eligible for the highest-paying IT jobs at any other company that relies on AWS cloud. And you’d have a hard time finding a company that doesn’t rely on AWS for some part of their digital platform.
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Google’s Professional Cloud Architect (PCA) covers the most advanced skills necessary for working with Google cloud technologies. The PCA is mainly intended for, as the name suggests, cloud architects, but cloud engineers will use it for managing, provisioning, and implementing cloud architecture. And there’s no harm in knowing how to design and plan the architectures too.
Salary impact of Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect: Considerable. There are very few lists of cloud engineer certifications which don’t have the PCA at the top of them. Google powers the most versatile and powerful cloud services in the world, cloud engineers certified in their use are reliably paid the most.
DevOps Engineer Expert (formerly Azure Solutions Architect Expert)
Despite its name, this certification isn’t meant only for those who do DevOps. The whole point of DevOps is that it overlaps with many different parts of the business. That’s why the DevOps Engineer Expert is such a valuable certificate for a cloud engineer. As you learn what tools Microsoft Azure has for designing continuous integration and delivery, you’ll learn how you can revolutionize your company’s use of networks, storage and compute resources.
Salary impact of DevOps Engineer Expert: Significant. Not every company relies on Microsoft Azure, and not every company that uses Azure will be focusing on DevOps tools. But if you have the opportunity to get this cert, you’d be surprised at how many tools Azure offers that apply to any company looking to improve processes and offload workloads.
CompTIA is one of the most reliable, trusted vendors of IT certifications in the world. The Cloud+ might not be one of the more advanced certifications a cloud engineer could earn, but it’s certainly one of the most trusted. The philosophy behind the Cloud+ is that a cloud professional should be a jack of all trades — and a master of many too. The Cloud+ is vendor-agnostic, which means it’s great for cloud engineers who want to keep their options open.
Salary impact of CompTIA Cloud+: Moderate. The Cloud+ is an excellent certification, especially for a junior cloud engineer, or someone trying to land a job as a cloud engineer. But if you’re already a seasoned cloud engineer, the Cloud+ isn’t designed as a career-defining certification, rather a career-starting one.
What Types of Companies Need Cloud Engineers?
The experience that a cloud engineer gains over the years can start to define them. If you spend all your time managing the cloud for a hospital, you might struggle to change gears later on and move over to integrating cloud security solutions for a financial company. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — but it’s best to be aware of it rather than fall prey to it.
Cloud engineers don’t work exclusively in IT companies. Many cloud engineers lead IT teams in a company that’s in an entirely different industry. And the industry you choose to work in matters for your long-term career path. Some industries have lots of cash and are eager to expand their cloud footprint, while others are working with old equipment and processes.
Higher Education Needs Cloud Engineers
Colleges and universities aren’t just constantly trying to stay up-to-date with their curriculum, they also want to reduce costs for managing and maintaining their increasing student bodies. Many companies and consultants exist on the edges of the higher education industry to help digitize the records and processes that colleges and universities use. An extremely well-trained cloud engineer can help enable these teams as they explore the many different approaches to going to the cloud with student data.
Career impact of higher education: Significant. The last several decades have been tumultuous for colleges and universities all over the country, but the schools that are doing best are modernizing and revolutionizing their networks and need cloud engineers to make that a reality. A cloud engineer who positions themselves well can find a long career keeping the campus network alive on — well — a campus.
The Financial Sector Can Always Use Cloud Engineers
Cloud security is obviously very important to the financial sector. When dealing with as many transactions and as much sensitive information as they are, they’re eager to pay cloud engineers who can design and implement robust security solutions. But that’s not all — the financial sector also needs cloud engineers who know how to develop applications in the cloud and design high-speed, high-throughput cloud networks. Many of the most important decisions in the finance sector are made at lightning speed and a cloud engineer who can accelerate a finance company’s decisions will be paid well.
Career impact of the finance industry: Significant. The finance sector is diverse and not every major player is a huge corporate multinational conglomerate. All of them will pay well for cloud engineers who can keep their data and investments secure and profitable.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Cloud Engineer
The best cloud engineers are the ones who know a little about every part of the cloud but master certain parts. So if you’re a cloud engineer, or you want to become one, the key is being bold with your career. Do additional research into what field or industry you want to work in, be creative in imagining what the cloud could do for your company, find out about other successful cloud implementations — and then choose what you want to be excellent at and get training that delivers it.
Aiming to become a cloud engineer is a great career aspiration but it’s a long road. There are many technologies, providers and tools to learn along the way. For the cloud engineers who stick it out, get the training and certification they need, the compensation is often very high. So keep your nose down, learn what your peers are learning, and carve out a cloud engineering niche for yourself.