The IT Certification Resource Center

Featured Deal

Get CompTIA, Cisco, or Microsoft training courses free for a week.
Learn More ❯

Six Niche Cloud Computing Certifications

Sometimes you have to step off the beaten path to find the right certification. Let's take a look at the world of cloud computing certifications, and see which certs some people may be overlooking.

Sometimes you have to step off the beaten path to find the right cloud certification.The cloud is where the future of IT is headed — or have we already arrived? I was on the scene when the PC came about, and then when client-server technology was deemed the wave of the future, and then when the industry clamored that data centers needed to be built all over and on-prem (or “on company premises”).


I recall spinning up four or five physical exchange servers every weekend, thinking that I was doing the right thing for my clients. Which just goes to show that the only constant in information technology is change. So whether cloud computing is here to stay, or is just the next Next Big Thing, the race for certifications and knowledge is on.


In this article, I’d like to direct your attention to six “niche” cloud certifications. These are credentials that meet a need — there are employers who definitely want these skills — but that aren’t hogging space on all of the “most” and “best” and “top for (fill in the year)” lists. While they might not be the hottest, however, they will give you a solid foundation to build on.


Why are these credentials considered off the beaten path? Let’s find out! We’ll also describe what skills you’ll develop while pursuing these certs, what is special and impactful about each of them, and why certain employers will be on the lookout for these particular skill sets.


First up is the new and exciting Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect. While it’s attached to one of the biggest brands in IT, this certification lacks some of the heft you’d get with the leading cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft.


The Google Cloud Platform exams do have a lot of similarities to the AWS exams, but the general consensus seems to be that, for most people, Google’s Professional Cloud Architect exam will be more difficult than the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional exam. Having taken this test, I can vouch for that overall opinion.


One difference is that Google expects every architect to come from an application development background. That might not be an issue for most people, but some will be quite thrown by a question asking them to debug some Python code that has nothing to do with the Google Cloud Platform. Python is popular and powerful, however, so Google wants to make it relevant across the board.


The key difference between Google Cloud certification and AWS, however, is that Google certification revolves entirely around professionally performing the Cloud Architect role, rather than around the platform itself. There is significant value in this, because it can better represent real world ability.


This can also make the exam much harder, of course, because its scope is almost limitless. Again, you can expect plenty of exam questions that have nothing to do with Google. The exam itself is only $200, but the hours spent studying for it will take their toll on you, and preparation could cost you much more than $200.


Next up is Amazon’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate. While this certification isn’t all the obscure, you should have it under your belt when applying for just about any cloud computing position. Building on AWS makes me feel like the old days of building artisan Dell servers one by one, except that now I can build 50 servers at once, using fewer clicks.


Since AWS is by far the most well-known cloud platform, and also one of the oldest, there are a ton of materials out there for study. If you are new to the business, or to AWS, then expect to dedicate at least 120 hours of focused time to study and shell out a couple hundred dollars. The cert exam itself  is cheap enough that almost anyone can afford it, but you definitely don’t want to attempt it cold.