So you wanna be a cloud pro: Top AWS cloud career paths

By Nicola Wright

AWS cloud career paths

If you’re thinking about a career in tech, then the cloud is unquestionably the place to be. 

No longer the next big thing in the tech space, cloud computing is fast becoming the norm. The vast majority of the world’s businesses and organizations run at least part of their operations from the cloud, with more outfits making the leap every day.

The value of the public cloud market is expected to rocket to $331bn by 2022, with the cloud services industry set to grow at a rate three times faster than that of IT services overall.

Leading the public cloud pack by a significant margin is Amazon Web Services.

Is AWS a good career choice?

AWS is the world’s most popular cloud service provider, and its lead over competitors such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Powering the likes of Adobe, Airbnb, Fox, Netflix, McDonalds, Nintendo, SoundCloud, the US State Department and, of course, Amazon’s other business arms, a vast range of organizations across every conceivable industry use AWS.

Countless businesses are utilizing AWS cloud services, and they’re creating new roles all the time. Right now, there simply aren’t enough AWS professionals on the market to fill these positions. This talent gap is putting AWS customers in a tricky situation, but it’s great news for anyone considering a career in the AWS space.

Since skilled cloud pros are in short supply, those with the right experience to take on these roles are holding all the aces, and certainly won’t be short of options when it comes to finding a great job with a great salary to match.

In addition, budding AWS professionals have a lot of opportunities in front of them when it comes to the type of job they want to do. Cloud computing encompasses so many kinds of products and services—AWS offers tools that cover everything from infrastructure and storage to data analytics, machine learning, and software development.

It’s often said there’s no longer such thing as a job for life; it’s certainly true that in the tech sector you need to be committed to lifelong learning and upskilling to stay in demand as a professional. But cloud computing is here to stay, and if you’re looking to build a career that’s both lucrative and lasting, you can’t get much better than AWS.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the career paths you can venture down in the exciting and lucrative world of AWS.

All salary information is taken from our latest AWS Salary Survey and is accurate as of November 2018.

Your AWS career path options

What does an AWS Developer do

The role of an AWS Developer

As an AWS Developer, you’ll build solutions based on AWS. You’ll create apps and services that are powered by and deployed on the AWS platform. That could mean developing anything from infrastructure and software applications to containers, operating systems, and system management tools.

You’ll be expected to be able to test, secure, maintain, and support your creations to make sure they’re operating at peak performance levels at all times.

Employers look for their AWS Developers to have experience with commonly used AWS products like EC2, ECS, RDS, Lambda, CloudWatch, and Systems Manager, as well as familiarity with Linux; the OS of choice for many organizations working with scalable web applications and environments.

Being skilled in the use of automation software such as OpsWorks, Puppet, or Chef would be a bonus. In terms of programming languages, you’ll need a firm grasp of Bash, JavaScript, Perl, Ruby, and Python, and experience with Node.js, Typescript, and Java.

What kind of salary does an AWS Developer make?

Junior Mid Senior Contractor Rate (hourly)
AWS Developer salary $98,500 $122,000 $143,500 $120
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What does an AWS Architect do

The role of an AWS Architect

AWS Architects are responsible for designing complex cloud infrastructure in much the same way that a traditional architect designs buildings.

They start by gathering specifications and requirements from users across the business and use those to map out a solution that meets those needs using the AWS platform.

Sometimes that means designing an AWS solution from scratch; in other cases, the job involves translating existing apps and infrastructure into cloud terms, and helping businesses migrate to the cloud or replicate their existing processes using AWS products.

AWS Architects not only need to be able to map out great solutions, but also configure and secure them to ensure maximum efficiency once they’re up and running.

A great AWS Architect has both outstanding technical skills and soft skills. Cloud Architects work across the aisle, dealing with both the teams of developers and engineers who’ll build the solution and the end users who’ll use it. They need to be able to communicate with people at all levels of the business, with various degrees of technical understanding.

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As an AWS Architect, you can go down several paths. Tech job titles are often fluid; precisely what a Cloud Architect does at one company might be different from what their peer in another organization does, depending on the needs of the business. Alternatively, they might do the same job but have two different job titles. That said, (very) broadly speaking, here are the differences between popular Cloud Architect roles.

As a Cloud Application Architect, you’ll lead on the design, planning, and implementation of apps built on the cloud.

Cloud Infrastructure Architect, on the other hand, focuses more on the wider infrastructure underneath an organization’s cloud apps; things like servers, storage, delivery, security, and networks.

DevOps Architect undertakes similar projects—taking a broad look at the needs of an organization and devising a cloud-based solution to suit all of those requirements—but utilizes DevOps practices and methodologies to deliver this solution.

What kind of salary does an AWS Architect make?

Junior Mid Senior Contractor Rate (hourly)
AWS  Application Architect salary $140,000 $175,000 $200,000 $150
AWS Infrastructure Architect salary $138,500 $156,000 $187,000 $150
AWS DevOps Architect salary $182,000 $150
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What does an AWS Engineer do

The role of an AWS Cloud Engineer

Once the Cloud Architect has constructed their vision for an organization’s new cloud-based system, it’s up to the Cloud Engineer to make that vision a reality.

Typically, they’ll construct and implement any new cloud functionality or migrate existing processes to the cloud and maintain them. They’ll engineer processes across various areas like servers, applications, and databases and monitor them to ensure everything works as it should, taking necessary steps to facilitate spikes in traffic and usage.

Cloud Engineers are generally expected to be able to use AWS tools like CloudFormation, DynamoDB, SQS, Elastic Beanstalk, ELB, AutoScaling, and EC2, and have experience working with Linux.

Some Cloud Engineers go on to specialize in a particular area of AWS, often security or networking, while some concentrate on using DevOps strategies to get the job done. Many progress onto roles as Cloud Architects, taking a more comprehensive view of cloud systems and leading teams on implementation and migration projects.

What kind of salary does an AWS Cloud Engineer make?

Junior Mid Senior Contractor Rate (hourly)
AWS Cloud Engineer salary $115,000 $136,000 $163,000 $100
AWS DevOps Engineer salary $110,000 $132,000 $180,000 $120
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What does an AWS Administrator do

The role of an AWS Cloud Systems Administrator

AWS administrators are the vanguard of AWS cloud systems; managing, monitoring and optimizing operations on AWS.

They’ll oversee the flow of data to and from AWS platforms, liaise with users to determine their needs and select the right services for business requirements, and develop, document and disseminate best practices. Often, they’ll also be responsible for monitoring usage costs and budgets.

A successful AWS Administrator needs a robust understanding of all the AWS products under their control, and an appreciation of crucial cloud concepts like networking, security, and visualization. Knowledge of the AWS CLI and SDKs/API tools is super useful, as is experience with Linux, relational databases, and container tools like Docker and Kubernetes.

What kind of salary does an AWS Cloud Systems Administrator make?

Junior Mid Senior Contractor Rate (hourly)
AWS Cloud Systems Administrator salary $95,000 $115,000 $130,000 $85
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What does an AWS Data Engineer do

The role of an AWS Data specialist

Big Data is big news. An organization’s data is the most valuable asset it has and, increasingly, businesses are looking to data specialists to help them derive maximum value from their information and make them more informed and proactive.

If you’re looking to build a great AWS career working with data, you have so many hot options to choose from.

Like the other types of cloud architect, an AWS Data Solutions Architect collects requirements, assesses current usage and infrastructure, and designs solutions to address business needs; in this case, it’s data storage and management solutions they’re architecting.

Then the AWS Data Engineer comes in to develop, build, test, and maintain the databases and large-scale processing systems that the Big Data Solutions Architect dreams up.

If getting into the data itself, as opposed to the architecture that houses it, is more your bag, then consider the job of AWS Data Scientist. Big Data Scientists work on cleaning, organizing, analyzing, and presenting the data stored on a company’s AWS storage platform, fishing for valuable insights that help the business make better decisions.

Data Architects and Engineers need to be able to develop and implement data warehousing solutions that are scalable, secure, and reliable. They’ll often be required to use AWS products and services like S3, Lambda, Athena, Glue, RedShift, SageMaker, and Snowflake. Experience with Python and both SQL and noSQL databases is essential too.

Data Scientists, on the other hand, need to have excellent analytical skills, have experience with statistical modeling and machine learning, and be great at reporting and visualizing data. Familiarity with languages and tools like SPSS, R, Python, SAS, Stata, and Julia are also highly desirable.

Though these roles involve different responsibilities, all arms of an AWS data team work together to work out the most efficient and productive way to store, qualify, and scrutinize that precious data.

What kind of salary does an AWS Data specialist make?

Junior Mid Senior Contractor Rate (hourly)
AWS Data Engineer salary $100,000 $120,000 $150,000 $130
AWS Data Solutions Architect salary $150,000 $172,000 $200,000 $150
AWS Data Scientist salary $100,000 $141,000 $210,000 $150
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