Six Hot Cloud Computing Certifications for 2021

Start 2021 off right with one of these six certs!

As we sit on the cusp of 2021, it's a great time for tech professionals to contemplate what certifications they should be targeting for 2021. Cloud computing is leaking into every part of IT, so a little new cloud knowledge could go a long way toward furthering your career growth, even if you don't directly work in a cloud-centered niche. With that in mind, let's consider which cloud credentials you should have your eye on.




Employers are looking for individuals to contribute to their ever-growing need to store and analyze data. They are going to need people who can understand statistics and data from 50,000 feet up all the way down to the microscopic details.


To get you in that headspace, there is no better certification or course set than the SAS Academy for Data Science. This covers the cloud install of quite a few products, including from ANOVA and SAS itself, but it also teaches you how to analyze data. Whether you're looking at getting a better job, bagging a promotion, or enhancing your existing skillset, start here.


The standout credential is SAS Certified Data Scientist. Training for this cert will take your everywhere you want to go, it covers neural network modeling as well as data mining. This is one to put on the top of your list and falls into the category of "big data" training.


Amazon Web Services


Next up on the list is a very solid certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional. Employers are really keen to look at this because Amazon Web Services is one of the most popular cloud platforms around. Getting this certification will show any employer that you know your way around of the most important cloud technologies out there.


When it comes to the cloud, this one can help you gain a role just about anywhere. The certification program teaches you how to design scalable applications on AWS. You will have to get the "non-pro" version first, as you work your way up to this particular certification.


Start 2021 off right with one of these six certs!

Specifically, the Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification teaches you how to protect your infrastructure from DDoS attacks, implement encryption, manage multiple accounts, and move large amounts of data (quite a few cloud certs will also broaden your understanding of Big Data).


If you are a networking professional with a few years of experience creating and implementing cloud environments on AWS, then this certification is for you. You should already understand how to design cloud solutions and architectures, as well as everything that goes along with them, such as data storage, cloud migration, security, the works.




IBM is often overlooked in the discussion of the biggest players in the cloud computing market, but that's a mistake. There are lots options here, as IBM has a robust certification program. I'm going to recommend that you go in one of two directions. Start with the IBM Certified Solution Advisor - IBM Cloud Foundations credential if you aren't particularly versed in cloud computing.


If you have solid foundational knowledge of cloud computing, then you're likely capable of tackling a bigger challenge. In that case, you should take a look at the IBM Certified Architect - Cloud Solutions credential. This one will help you master cloud concepts and architectural principles and demonstrate your fluency at evaluation customer needs and creating a cloud architecture than can meet those needs.




Start 2021 off right with one of these six certs!

One effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that bad actors have come out of the woodwork — with cyberattacks on every front, employers need worker who have strong cloud security skills. If you know the ins and out cybersecurity in general, and you have a strong grasp of cloud security protocols in particular, then you'll be a hot commodity.


The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) from (ISC)2 is meant to help you learn about cloud security. Unlike role-based or vendor-based certifications, this one is function-based. You will actually be hands-on with this cert, so employers will know that you know your security.


CCSP is, however, an expert-level certification, so you'll need to take the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) beforehand (which will help anyway; that's the big dog of security certifications). This is one that I have and really love.


The CCSP gives you the tools to secure and manage your cloud environments and to be successful doing that. It demonstrates your advanced technical skills when it comes to best practices, policies and procedures in conjunction with designing and managing data, applications and infrastructure security.




Google is catching up to AWS on the cloud services front, so this is an opportune time to chase Google's Professional Cloud Architect credential. It is one of the highest paying IT certifications out there and will certainly add to your bottom line.


This advanced certification focuses on the skills required to perform the cloud architect role in a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) environment. There are not many companies out there where this certification doesn't play well. That's because there are not many companies out there where Google doesn't play a role.


The Cloud Architect certification teaches you how to design, manage, provision and secure cloud solution architecture. It's designed for experienced cloud professionals, enterprise architects, system administrators and developers who want to validate their proficiency with Google Cloud Platform.




Start 2021 off right with one of these six certs!

Bill Gates recently got bumped down to being the world's third richest man, but his company's certifications have not diminished in value at all. My recommendation here is the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert credential. It can help you gain advanced skills with its proprietary platform and learn how to decode business requirements into scalable and secure cloud solutions.


Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform is right up there with Google and IBM, challenging AWS for the highest usage out there. I personally think this cloud platform is the most intuitive and easiest to pick up. Employers, for this reason, have adopted it and are looking for professionals who have a great deal of knowledge in it.


With this certification, the requirements are pretty steep and broad. You will be measured on your skills in infrastructure, security, app deployment, data authentication, cloud development and cloud solution design.  Because this is an expert-level certification, you should have experience in cloud development and administrator beforehand.


Microsoft requires you to take two courses, AZ-300 and AZ-301, prior to earning the Azure Solutions Architect certification. This one will stretch you; the training and testing are no joke.


Off you go


No matter what cloud technology you choose in the upcoming 2021 year, I personally believe that employers will come calling for you. High-quality proven professionals are what they are seeking. Any of these credentials will demonstrate your bona fides.


The most important question is to figure out where you want to go. Pick the path that excites you and always do good things for the right reasons and you will be successful. I wish you the best of luck and happy certifying!


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About the Author
Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive.

Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills include finance, ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.