31 Honest Cloud Architect Salaries
If you’re already a cloud architect, you deserve to know what your job is worth. Or if you’re hoping to become a cloud architect, you deserve enough information to know what you can expect to be paid. The problem is, depending on where you look for a cloud architect job in the U.S., the average salary for a cloud architect changes drastically.
For instance, the difference between cloud architect salaries in cities with smaller demand like Springfield, Missouri (where the low average sits around $63,000) and cities with much higher demand like Sunnyvale, California (where the high average is close to $172,000) is huge. So read on and get a sense of what a cloud architect should actually expect to get paid throughout the country.
What is a Cloud Architect?
A cloud architect plans, designs, develops, and then manages business solutions in the cloud. A cloud architect knows every question a company needs to ask at every stage of getting onto the cloud — and they have the technical knowledge to learn the answers.
Imagine you’re building your perfect office space. Pretty early on, you’d need to hire an architect: and they do much, much more than draw how the building will look. They figure out how many people will use the building, what they’ll use it for, how much space they’ll need, where they’ll all park, how long it’ll take to build, how expensive different options of construction materials could be, how deep the foundation needs to be in order to reach a certain height, and much more. A cloud architect has very similar responsibilities, except for a company’s digital hopes and dreams.
A cloud architect integrates and designs cloud apps, services, storage and compute solutions. They’re a big-picture expert, but they also know the technical implementations of each technology from many different vendors. For their work, cloud architects tend to get compensated very well.
31 Real Salaries for Cloud Architects
We have some pretty good data sources from all over the internet to get a sense of what cloud architects are actually being paid. We went through job postings, job descriptions, salary comparison websites, and much more to bring you a sense of what the job market looks like for cloud architects.
No matter where you look, the range of salaries that a cloud architect can expect is wide. This could be partly due to how large an umbrella the job title “cloud architect” is. There are senior cloud architects with years of experience, and there are cloud architects who focus on only one cloud provider or vendor. No matter the reason, even within the same city, the difference between low-paying cloud architect jobs and high-paying jobs tends to be around $45,000 per year.
Any time you’re analyzing IT salaries, it’s common to see a big difference between salaries in a large and expensive city like New York and a smaller city like Montgomery, Alabama. But for cloud architects, the gap is especially pronounced. Nevertheless, when you look at national averages, a pretty clear picture emerges:
The national average salary for a Cloud Architect is $102,500.
The average high salary for a Cloud Architect is $121,600.
The average low salary for a Cloud Architect is $76,500.
Like we’ve said, the difference between cloud architect salaries in large, expensive cities is significantly higher than in smaller cities. Rather than focus on those high-demand cities, we’re going to analyze the salaries of 31 mid-sized American cities. It’s our hope that this will give a sense of national opportunities for cloud architects.
Salt Lake City
Where you work affects your salary. Depending on where you live or want to live that chart might be disappointing. If you look at it geographically, most of the cities where the average salary is under $100,000 are central states. Cloud architects in coastal cities and states see average salaries exceeding $100,000 pretty reliably, but it seems that cloud architects who live in the Midwest, the mountain states, or the South generally only see six-figure salaries for the highest-paying jobs.
Experience is evidently king for salary. Not only does geography say a lot about your salary, so does experience and knowledge. If you look carefully at the range of salaries within each city, you’ll see something interesting about where the spread occurs. Although it’s not universal, generally speaking, the range for high-paying cloud architect jobs is larger than the range for low-paying cloud architect positions.
In other words, the going rate for low-paid cloud architects doesn’t change in a big way across the country: in the majority of mid-sized cities, the difference between low-paying jobs doesn’t exceed $30,000. But in those same cities, the difference between high-paying cloud architect jobs is closer to $55,000.
The salary range for high-paid cloud architects is bigger than for low-paid. That’s a bit complicated, but what it suggests is that cloud architects with less experience don’t have nearly as many opportunities for finding higher paid jobs than their experienced counterparts. The data suggests that highly experienced cloud architects who are willing to move or shop around for a cloud architect job are in much higher demand than cloud architects with less experience.
For highly experienced, highly qualified cloud architects who are willing to move for their job, you could change jobs and get a raise that’s better than most people’s full-time salaries. Meanwhile, the growth potential for less-qualified cloud architects doesn’t lie in looking around for better jobs, but improving your skills and gaining much more experience to qualify for the much better jobs.
There are exceptions to this — there are cities where cloud architects are in such high demand that the low end of the salary range is quite close to the high end. But overall the data suggests strongly that the more experienced you are, the bigger the spread of opportunities becomes.
3 Salary Considerations for Cloud Architects
The dollar difference between a low-paid cloud architect and a very well-paid one is significant. No matter what city in the U.S. you use as your baseline, some cloud architects leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table by not knowing how to get paid more. In some cities, the difference between the best cloud architect jobs and the worst is more than $60,000.
There are four things that put a cloud architect in the running for the best-paying jobs: the tools you’re qualified with, the certifications you’ve earned, and the company you work for.
3 Cloud Tools You'll Need to Know
Depending on the position, a cloud architect can be responsible for every aspect of an organization’s data needs, or only implementing one narrow part of their entire cloud strategy. Cloud service providers like Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure offer options for cloud data storage, cloud compute, networking, even analytics.
Strictly speaking, a cloud architect will typically be the person responsible for implementing a company’s cloud tools. But many cloud architects work in a hybrid environment, and they need to also have a good understanding of how the cloud offerings differ from the on-premises ones.
Cloud storage resources
It would be unreasonable to think that every cloud architect needs to know everything about all the available cloud storage services. But if you don’t know anything about any of them, or you don’t understand how Google Drive’s storage options differ from Dropbox’s, or you don’t know which cloud storage services integrate with your company’s other technologies, you simply won’t be eligible for the highest-paying cloud architect positions.
Your best bet would be to start with the cloud storage solution your company uses, and learn as much about it as possible. After that, learning as much as you can about its competitors — especially what functionally makes them different — will help give you a competitive advantage.
Cloud computing services
A cloud architect has to be the champion of cloud compute solutions for their organization, because no one understands the value of off-loading compute resources to the cloud like a cloud architect. At the same time, sometimes the migration cost isn’t worth the return, and a cloud architect also has to be the cold voice of reason sometimes, encouraging a bigger upfront investment for long-term savings in another business objective.
Companies considering cloud compute solutions have many options available to them: Microsoft Azure is often considered one of the best, followed by AWS, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud. Cloud architects who want to qualify for the jobs with the highest salaries have to be at least familiar with how the top cloud compute service providers differ, and how to implement at least one of them into an organization’s processes.
Cloud networking tools
The transition to the cloud by way of an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can be an expensive, stressful experience for a company. It usually falls on an organization’s cloud architects to plan and execute the migration and ensure that you emerge with a fast, reliable cloud network.
A cloud architect who doesn’t know anything about Cisco’s network-centric approach to multi-cloud and hybrid deployments is going to have problems. Similarly, a cloud architect would have to know at least something about how VMware enables public and private deployments to be successful. Oracle is another cloud networking provider that the most successful cloud architects should have at least some familiarity with.
Overall, the tools that a cloud architect needs to be successful are the various providers and technologies that make the cloud possible. Cloud architects who know how to make use of Google, AWS, Cisco, VMware and the other major players in the cloud have the best chance at landing top-paying jobs.
Salary impact of knowing cloud architect tools: moderate. If you think about it, having familiarity with the cloud service providers your company relies on is just common sense. If you increase your knowledge of them and others, you become more valuable, but it’s also just fundamental to doing the job.
3 Best Certifications for Cloud Architects
Broadly speaking, cloud architects with relevant certifications make much more money than their non-certified counterparts. This is particularly true for cloud architects because so much is expected of them. Cloud architects need to have command of a huge amount of knowledge, and companies’ profitability and success can depend on them — they must know if they can rely on their architects’ knowledge.
In addition to that, most cloud architect certifications are issued by service providers, like Google, AWS and Microsoft. Companies feel most confident and comfortable when their cloud architects are certified by the same companies they’re already trusting with their data and networks.
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
A cloud architect certified by Google has command over all the technologies that an enterprise-scale company needs to move its data, network or computing solutions to the cloud. The Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect (PCA) proves that an architect can design, plan, manage, provision and implement cloud architectures with Google services. The PCA is an intense and challenging certification that very few people earn. Assuming your company uses Google cloud services, having it means you’re the local expert for enterprise cloud solutions.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
For companies that use AWS for their cloud services, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional represents the culmination of years of experience and training. Architects with this cert have proven they can design and deploy scalable, available applications. This cert also proves they can design and deploy applications with the right AWS service while migrating complex apps on AWS. If your company uses AWS, this is the cert that validates your mastery of enterprise-wide scalable operations.
Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Just like the two previous certifications, the Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert is obviously best suited for cloud architects who work for companies that are already using Microsoft Azure for their cloud services. The certification exam for the Azure Solutions Expert covers a cloud architect’s ability to deploy and configure infrastructure, implement data workloads, and create custom apps in the cloud. It’s a strategic-level certification, and it doesn’t test fine-tuned skills as much as it assesses an architect’s ability to plan an enterprise’s entire cloud strategy in Microsoft Azure.
Salary impact of cloud architect certifications: large. Knowing the tools your company uses is just common sense. But an expert-level certification issued by the vendor themselves validates years of experience and gives something tangible for extra hours put in mastering it. Cloud architect positions are, by their nature, hard to define — companies rely on industry certifications to confirm who deserves jobs and promotions.
What Type of Companies Need Cloud Architects?
A cloud architect, sometimes also known as a solutions architect, is most commonly found in companies supported by an enterprise network. While some small-to-medium sized businesses need a cloud architect, the best-paid cloud architects are the ones who can take control of and plan the future of enormous, sprawling campus and enterprise networks.
Cloud Architects in the Medical Industry
The medical industry is increasingly made up of huge businesses and networks. Not only that, the last few years have seen incredible opportunities to expand the access that doctors, nurses, insurance providers and even patients have to patient data, medications, cost information, and more.
Cloud architects are often strategizing the implementation of huge networks that must have secure solutions above all else. The medical industry is in a mad rush to migrate its networks and data use to the cloud, and trained and certified cloud architects can be put in charge of entire networks.
The Telecom Industry Depends on Cloud Architects
Like so many IT positions, some of the highest demand for cloud architects comes from the IT/telecommunications industry itself. Only cloud architects can be depended on to maintain the huge servers and massive networks necessary for providing cloud services to enterprise networks and keep Autonomous Systems working. Some of the best paid cloud architects in the world are paid to keep the backbone of every other cloud architect’s network running.
Salary impact of the industry: considerable. Many companies and organizations need powerful cloud-enabled networks, but not every industry has the cash to throw around like telecoms and the medical industry does.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Cloud Architect
The single most important thing a cloud architect could do to improve their salary is increase their knowledge and familiarity with cloud solutions. There are dozens of service providers, and an ever-growing number of combinations of them to provide custom Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service solutions in cloud and hybrid environments.
Our data shows that sometimes the difference between a cloud architect position that earns you $130,000 and one that earns you $80,000 is the state you’re working in. But further analysis shows that one thing that transcends location is skill. Better-trained, certified cloud architects earn much more than their more junior counterparts — sometimes in the range of $60,000 more.