Post banner
Professional Development 9 Min Read

15 Cloud & Cloud Security Certifications for 2020

Cloud technology is continuing to evolve rapidly, making it a challenge for individuals and organizations to keep their knowledge, skills, and abilities up to date. Fortunately, numerous technology- and business-focused certifications are available. In fact, one of the challenges is to sort through the many available offerings to determine which ones suit your current job requirements as well as your longer-term professional development goals. Organizations as well need to determine which certifications will keep their teams operating at peak effectiveness, keeping in mind that it’s almost always less expensive to upskill employees than hire new ones.

In this post, we offer a broad sampling of certification types, ranging from technology- and vendor- specific to technology- and vendor-agnostic. Our goal isn’t to try for completeness, but simply to give you examples of some of the options available to help put you on the path to making informed decisions that will guide your individual professional growth while strengthening the cloud knowledge and capabilities of your entire team.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of 15 cloud and cloud security certifications offered by 6 providers. Together they represent technology-specific training as well as vendor-neutral, technology-agnostic content. The point is for you to see examples of what is available and to then decide what’s right for you.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be a complete listing of cloud and cloud security certifications. The resources included are not ranked in terms of perceived value or quality, nor does inclusion imply an endorsement of any product or service. Our intent is to provide you with examples of information that could be helpful as you add to your knowledge of useful cloud security certifications. 

Amazon Web Services — AWS Certification

@awscloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) was launched in 2006 and quickly became one of the top three cloud computing providers. They began offering certifications in 2013 to support industry-wide training and skills standardization for solutions architects, systems operations administrators, developers, and others who wanted to obtain validation of their technical skills and ability to work with the AWS Cloud. AWS has structured its courses so you can find the right level to start at and then progress as you become more experienced and need greater depth. AWS revises its courses and adds new certifications to reflect changes in technology and in the industry as a whole. Finally, AWS requires individuals to recertify every three years — which helps ensure that skills and knowledge are kept relevant and current.

Below is a brief selection of certifications at the Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty levels. For additional certifications and courses, be sure to look at 9 AWS Security Certifications to Consider in 2020.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (Foundational)

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is an introductory certification that’s designed to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the AWS platform. It’s a great way for a beginner in a technical role to start building expertise, and it’s also an excellent way for people in non-technical areas to gain a solid understanding of the AWS Cloud. This examination is a recommended, but optional step toward achieving an Associate Level or Specialty certification.

Key Point: AWS recommends that candidates have at least six months of experience with the AWS Cloud in any role, including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial as well as a basic understanding of IT services and their uses in the AWS Cloud platform. 

AWS Certified Developer (Associate)

To be certified as an AWS Developer, you must demonstrate technical proficiency in creating and maintaining applications on the AWS platform.

The AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam is intended for individuals who perform a development role and have one or more years of hands-on experience developing and maintaining an AWS-based application.

Key Point: The candidate must have more than one year of experience programming and writing code for AWS software and applications. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of best practices for using AWS workflow, notification, and database services, along with expertise in design, development, and management of AWS-based applications.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer (Professional)

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional exam deals with provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. It is designed for individuals who are seeking to validate their technical expertise in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. 

Key Point: The candidate must have two or more years’ experience in a DevOps engineer role provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of designing and managing tools to automate production operations.

AWS Certified Data Analytics (Specialty)

Note: This course was formerly named AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty. 

The AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty certification is designed for individuals seeking to validate their technical expertise in designing and implementing AWS services to derive value from data. This exam is for anyone who performs complex Big Data analyses.

Key Point: The candidate must have a minimum of five years’ experience in AWS tools for data analysis. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of the design and maintenance of Big Data along with best practices for securing Big Data solutions.

Cloud-Institute

Operating globally, the Cloud-Institute offers online, vendor-neutral programs for cloud specialists. They currently provide two tracks for certification: Certified Cloud Architect (CCA) and Certified Cloud Professional (CCP). These are designed for experts in cloud computing technology, architecture, security, governance, and infrastructure and are suited to any vendor or cloud platform. The Cloud-Institute uses the consolidated findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a basis for reference.

In addition, they offer a free Cloud Open Exam that you can take to assess your cloud computing knowledge. Basically, this is a self-assessment of cloud computing knowledge that you can use to prepare yourself for the two certification exams.

Certified Cloud Architect (CCA)

The ideal candidate for Cloud Architect certification will have a firm understanding of the technology and architecture that make up cloud computing platforms.

To successfully pass the exam, they must be able to:

  • Design and implement cloud computing services
  • Demonstrate deep knowledge of cloud technologies, platforms, practices, and solutions
  • Advise customers on cloud computing models and relevant providers
  • Estimate the cost of implementing cloud-based systems

 Key Point: Cloud-Institute recommends that candidates have at least six months of experience in an organization that uses cloud-computing technology or cloud-related IT services. They can prepare by taking the free Open Exam and reading relevant NIST publications.

Certified Cloud Professional (CCP)

To certify as a Cloud Professional, you must have a strong working knowledge of:

  • The business value of cloud computing
  • Basic cloud computing strategies
  • IT service management
  • Risk management and its impact on cloud computing
  • Cloud computing migration processes

 Key Point: The best candidates for this certification have a background in business in addition to technological knowledge. They can prepare by taking the free Open Exam and reading relevant NIST publications.

Cloud Security Alliance

@cloudsa

Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing.” 

It accomplishes this through defining best practices for cloud computing and educating others on these principles. As pioneers in their field, CSA created the industry’s first cloud security certification in 2010. Their training, certificates, and educational resources are based on CSA’s vendor-neutral research. In addition to certificates, CSA offers a range of educational and training resources, including an online Knowledge Center, webinars, courses, and events. Their certificates include the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge Plus which builds on the foundation course and adds expanded materials and extensive hands-on activities to reinforce classroom instruction.

Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

If you want to specialize in cloud security, the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) is widely respected and provides the foundation knowledge needed to secure data in the cloud. As such, it is an excellent basis on which to build additional knowledge.

 Obtaining the CCSK will help you:

  • Demonstrate your expertise in cloud security
  • Display your ability to effectively create and implement a holistic cloud security program
  • Set you apart from other candidates, making you a more desirable prospect in the cloud security market

 Key Point: The Cloud Security Alliance offers a variety of training and self-study options that you can take in preparation for this certification, giving you flexibility to customize your training to your particular needs.

CompTIA 

@CompTIA

Like Cloud Security Alliance, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a non-profit trade association serving the information technology industry. A global leader in providing vendor-neutral IT certifications, they have issued more than two million certifications worldwide. In addition to four certification series (Core, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, and Additional Professional) that are designed for all experience levels from entry-level to expert, they offer self-study tools, instructor-led training, and an extensive variety of training resources.

CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA Cloud+ is an excellent foundation-level certification that covers a broad range of skills and takes into account new technologies to support the changing cloud market. Cloud+ validates the skills you need to maintain and optimize cloud infrastructure services. By becoming CompTIA Cloud+ certified, you will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Analyze system requirements and successfully complete migrations to the cloud
  • Properly allocate cloud resources and make adjustments when needed
  • Automate technologies and processes when necessary to optimize system performance
  • Implement appropriate security controls within requirements provided
  • Troubleshoot and create solutions for any issues related to cloud capacity, automation, connectivity, and security

 Key Point: This is an excellent certification if you want something broad that will enable you to work in a variety of data center jobs. Once you have this certificate, which is valid for three years, you can use it as a foundation for ongoing professional development.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials+

This certification is designed for IT professionals as well as non-technical personnel who need the basic business acumen needed to make informed cloud service decisions. 

As such it draws on a combination of key business principles and fundamental cloud concepts that validate data-driven cloud recommendations. It is built on the concept that all necessary staff members – IT specialists as well as business oriented – need to understand how to increase efficiency, manage costs, and reduce security risks for organizations whenever tasked with making current cloud technology decisions.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ demonstrates that you:

  • Have the knowledge and understanding of the foundational business and technical components included in a cloud assessment
  • Understand specific security concerns and measures
  • Understand new technology concepts, solutions, and benefits to an organization

Key Points: Recommended background consists of at least six months of experience working in an environment that markets or relies on IT-related services, or between six months to a year of experience as a business analyst in an IT environment with some exposure to cloud technologies.

Google

@googlecloud

 As one of the three major cloud computing providers, along with Microsoft and Amazon, Google offers a range of certifications to help meet the growing global demand for cloud-savvy IT professionals. Google Cloud certifications are offered at the Associate, Professional, and User level to cover a variety of roles and experience levels. A sampling of certifications is provided below.

Associate Cloud Engineer

This certification is a good starting point for people who are new to the cloud. It focuses on the fundamental skills of deploying, monitoring, and maintaining projects on Google Cloud, and can be used as a path to professional-level certifications.

The Associate Cloud Engineer exam assesses your ability to:

  • Set up a cloud solution environment
  • Plan and configure a cloud solution
  • Deploy and implement a cloud solution
  • Ensure successful operation of a cloud solution
  • Configure access and security

Key Points: Google recommends that individuals have at least six months of experience building on Google Cloud in order to attempt the exam.

At the Professional level, Google targets a variety of roles including architect, developer, data engineer, devops engineer, cloud security engineer, cloud network engineer, and collaboration engineer.

Professional Cloud Architect

A Professional Cloud Architect is someone with an in-depth understanding of cloud architecture in general and more specifically, the Google Cloud Platform. To successfully certify, you must be able to design, develop, implement, and manage cloud-based solutions to meet business objectives.

 Key Point: There are no exam prerequisites, but it is recommended that you have at least three years of industry experience including at least one year designing and managing solutions using GCP. To prepare thoroughly, you can review the exam guide provided by Google, take online training courses, and get hands-on experience using Qwiklabs.

G Suite User

The User certification is intended for individuals with experience using G Suite and determines an individual’s ability to use core collaboration tools. Becoming certified in G Suite verifies proficiency in key features of the G Suite platform and demonstrates that you’re able to:

  • Create, share, and modify documents, presentations, files, and spreadsheets using cloud-based tools
  • Communicate effectively via email systems
  • Provide scheduling and meeting solutions through the use of cloud-based tools

 Key Point: While these skills may be basic, mastering them in a detailed, standardized manner demonstrates that you have a command of approved, best practices. Google recommends that you complete the Applied Digital Skills training course and G Suite Essentials quest, and have at least one month of experience on G Suite before attempting this certification.

Microsoft

@Azure

 The Microsoft Azure cloud computing service, offers more than 600 customized services for mobile, data management, messaging, IoT, media services, machine learning, and more. In 2019, Microsoft announced its focus on role-based training and certifications, and since then has added 34 certifications to its portfolio across Azure, Modern Workplace, and Business Applications, and currently offer an extensive array or certifications at Fundamental, Associate, Expert, and Specialty levels. Following is a brief sample of these rigorous, industry-proven, industry-recognized exams.

Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals

This certification is a good place to start building your skills and knowledge whether you’re just starting out in technology or are thinking about making a career change.

Azure Fundamentals proves that you understand:

  • Cloud concepts
  • Core Azure services
  • Security, privacy, compliance, and trust
  • Azure pricing and support

Key Point: You can prepare for the certification exam using the free, online resources, or elect to take the instructor-led course.

Azure Administrator Associate

Azure Administrators implement, monitor, and maintain Microsoft Azure solutions, including major services related to compute, storage, network, and security. This certification demonstrates your ability to:

  • Manage Azure subscriptions and resources
  • Implement and manage storage
  • Deploy and manage virtual machines (VMs)
  • Configure and manage virtual networks
  • Manage identities

Key Point: You can prepare for the certification exam using the free, online resources, or elect to take the instructor-led course.

Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Microsoft Azure Solutions Architects require expertise in compute, network, storage, and security so that they can design solutions that run on Azure. This certification demonstrates your ability to:

  • Deploy and configure infrastructure
  • Implement workloads and security
  • Create and deploy apps
  • Implement authentication and secure data
  • Develop for the cloud and for Azure storage
  • Determine workload requirements
  • Design for identity and security
  • Design a data platform solution
  • Design a business continuity strategy
  • Design for deployment, migration, and integration
  • Design an infrastructure strategy

Note: The preceding is a partial list by Microsoft. For a full list of abilities, see Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert – Skills Measured.

Key Point: You can prepare for the certification exam using the free, online resources, or elect to take the instructor-led course.