What Is a Cloud Engineer & How Do You Become One?

6 minutes

So, you want to work in cloud computing. Good call! The cloud field is growing, and an estimated 70% of enterprises will use cloud platforms by 2027. You can start honing your cloud skills now so you can stand out in the job market and go after rewarding and lucrative cloud roles like Cloud Engineer. 

With so many cloud certification programs out there, it’s tough to know where to start and what’s worth your time (and money). Our new free cloud courses are designed to give you the foundational skills you need to pursue popular cloud certifications. These video-based courses will improve your knowledge of essential cloud services — like Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ — so you can make an informed decision about where to take your career.  

Curious what sort of opportunities you can have as a Cloud Engineer? We asked Egor Semeniak, Codecademy’s Senior Cloud Security Engineer, what it takes to become a Cloud Engineer and how you can get started today. 

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What is cloud engineering? 

Cloud computing (or engineering) is an umbrella term for providing businesses with essential IT services over the internet that eliminate the need for on-site infrastructure management. Businesses turn to cloud computing because it’s a cost-efficient and scalable solution that enables rapid development, data analysis, media streaming, software deployment, and data storage solutions.  

A Cloud Engineer is a Software Engineer who specializes in building and maintaining cloud applications. The average annual salary of a Cloud Engineer is $96,655, according to the latest Skillsoft IT Skills and Salary Report.  

What is a Cloud Security Engineer?  

A Cloud Security Engineer is a type of Cloud Engineer that bridges the gap between the security and compliance team and the DevOps team. The DevOps team handles the technical aspects of the cloud infrastructure (like deploying servers and containers), while the security and compliance team focuses on legal requirements and regulations. “I’m the piece that connects those two teams,” Egor says. “While being technical, I also need to have knowledge of different regulations and laws in order to make sure that we comply with them.”  

To use a non-technical analogy: Think of the cloud like a house where you store your valuable belongings. Just like in a house, you want to ensure that your data is safe and secure. The role of a Cloud Security Engineer is to safeguard this “house” and its contents and ensure that your data remains private and protected.  

Cloud Security Engineers have to stay vigilant for suspicious activity. “The most important thing about security is knowing what is out there and what you need to secure — because you’re not able to secure things that you don’t know are there,” Egor says. Being able to respond swiftly and reinforce security measures helps guarantee a secure environment for both users and developers. 

What does a Cloud Security Engineer do? 

A typical day in the life of a Cloud Security Engineer includes responsibilities like: 

  • Checking emails and alerts for any security issues that happened overnight 
  • Attending various meetings with different teams to discuss security, processes, and goals 
  • Investigating alerts  
  • Monitoring security tools and systems for potential threats or issues   
  • Working to develop new security automation code and features  

3 steps to become a Cloud Security Engineer 

Learn the technical skills and concepts 

When it comes to programming languages to learn for Cloud Security Engineer roles, Egor recommends Python for tasks like processing data, deploying things, and interacting with APIs. “I use Python for 99% of my daily tasks that require coding,” he says. Not only is Python easy to pick up, but there are also tons of Python libraries that are useful for handling data. Check out our Python courses and paths to get started, or explore this list of other programming languages for Cloud Engineers.   

Bash scripting also comes in handy because it allows you to do almost anything you want inside of your other virtual machines. You can use bash for automating tasks and configuring infrastructure like firewalls, permissions, and storage within virtual machines. The intermediate course Learn Bash Scripting will show you how you can save time by writing bash scripts. 

Cloud Security Engineers should also learn how to administer and properly configure a server, acquire a solid understanding of Linux (or any other Unix-based system), and become proficient in using the terminal. Get familiar with command line tasks like creating files, navigating directories, and executing commands. “That knowledge is very essential, but it is very hard to teach someone how to use it unless you actually have hands-on knowledge,” Egor says. You can start getting practical experience with our course Learn the Command Line.   

There are a couple other practices that are a big part of streamlining a Cloud Security Engineer’s workflow. The continuous integration continuous development (CI/CD) pipelines automate tasks like testing and deployment, so code changes are systematically verified and implemented. A Cloud Security Engineer makes sure that compliance and security measures are met in the CI/CD process. Another concept is infrastructure as code (IaC), which involves using syntax (like JSON or YAML) within templates to define resources, configurations, and policies for deployment in the cloud. You can start learning about these DevOps techniques in our course Introduction to DevOps.  

Work on your soft and business skills 

“Once you are comfortable doing things with the cloud, the hard part is the soft skills,” Egor says. Cloud Security Engineers work cross-functionally with lots of teams and stakeholders, so they need to deeply understand the product and how they fit into the business. Egor estimates that he spends about 40-60% of his day in meetings, which might sound like a drag, but it’s vital. “It is important to communicate and to have this one ecosystem where we all work together in order to achieve our goals,” he says.  

Cloud Security Engineers often interface with different segments of the business that have different priorities. You need to be able to tailor your style of communication depending on the person or circumstances. A good Cloud Security Engineer knows how to identify issues and propose solutions collaboratively, rather than simply pointing out faults, Egor says. Not to mention, Cloud Security Engineers need to know how to stay organized and prioritize tasks in critical or urgent situations. 

Bottom line: Don’t discount the importance of soft skills in tech. Even if you’re the most skilled security person in the world, you won’t be able to contribute productively unless you learn to adapt your expertise to the business environment. A strong rapport with your team ensures that your technical input will be valued and fosters a culture where your suggestions are seriously considered.  

Build your network  

You can expand your network and meet like-minded people by going to events, conferences, and activities like Capture the Flag (CTF) and hackathons. Attending events is a great way to break into the field, because it allows others to see your work ethic, behavior under pressure, and how you collaborate with peers. In niche fields like cybersecurity, personal connections matter greatly. “It is very easy to teach someone to be a good Angular developer — it is much harder to teach someone to be a good person,” Egor says.  

Start working towards a Cloud Security Engineer career 

In the cloud and cybersecurity fields, it’s challenging to demonstrate and validate your experience and expertise. That’s why many companies rely on certifications and evaluation processes to verify an individual’s skills and knowledge. Our free cloud courses are a great way to prepare for these official cloud certification programs, or just see if you find the work rewarding and interesting.

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