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Most in-demand cloud roles in 2021

Thu 11 Feb 2021

Many companies delayed hiring new employees during 2020. This year, expect companies change tack and hire more cloud specialists than ever before

The events of 2020 have made an enormous impact on society and the ways that we do business. As companies were forced to pivot to remote work very quickly – and often without the time to strategise – the importance of data accessibility and collaboration enabled by the cloud became very clear. 

Cloud adoption had already been on an upward trajectory, as companies of all sizes and across all industries began migrating processes and data to the public, private, or adopt a hybrid cloud modelSome were driven by the need to streamline operations, centralise data storage, or control costs, while others were ready to offload the effort of maintaining their own private data centres. 

However, it was the accessibility that cloud tools provide has helped many to manage the shift to remote work necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research supports the continued increase in cloud adoption, with the most recent findings from Gartner predicting an 18 percent rise in end-user cloud spending bringing the global market to $305B USD in 2021. 

Recent events have increased the awareness of the benefits of the cloud and driven the urgency of adoption among those companies that were lagging. 

Many companies delayed hiring new employees during 2020 – a conservative response to the economic uncertainty of the pandemic. But as we move into 2021, businesses are becoming more comfortable with hiring again, adding delayed 2020 job roles to 2021 hiring goals. 

As a result, the demand for skilled cloud technologists is increasing rapidly worldwide. The most in-demand cloud roles for 2021 include:

Cloud architect

Median Salary: £88,118  

A cloud architect is responsible for developing a company’s cloud strategy, from design to adoption, management to monitoring. They have responsibility for recommending public, private or hybrid cloud solutions and evaluating different providers and contracts. A cloud architect should also have a good understanding of the business, to create a flexible and scalable strategy; as well as networking, infrastructure, and security.

Cloud engineer

Median Salary: £72,500

Like a cloud architect, cloud engineers may design, implement and maintain cloud computing systems – but are more focused on execution than strategy. Smaller companies may offer an opportunity for generalists, while large companies tend to segment cloud engineering jobs into specific areas of focus, such as vendor management, software development, provision and maintenance, or disaster recovery. 

Cloud security specialist

Median Salary:  £75,000 

A foundational concern of businesses switching from on-premise to cloud-based systems is security. Will sensitive data be safe from accidental exposure, or hackers, when it is stored and managed in another location? As cloud adoption numbers rise, the need for experienced cloud security specialists will increase. 

A cloud security specialist is responsible for all aspects of cloud security, ensuring that systems are made safe from breaches. It is critical that a professional in this role not only understand cybersecurity but also stays on top of trends in the evolving cloud security ecosystem. 

DevOps engineer

Median Salary: £52,000 (UK) 

DevOps adoption is on the rise. According to a recent survey25 percent of companies have 3-5 years of experience with DevOps, while 37 percent are following at 1-3 years. Combined with growing cloud adoption, the demand for cloud DevOps engineers is likely to increase as well.  

Cloud DevOps engineers are focused on implementing and maintaining robust, fully automated CI/CD pipelines and ensuring that companies follow DevOps best practices. 

Cloud network administrator

Median Salary:£52,000 (UK) 

Cloud network administrators are experienced in cloud migration and implementation, but are focused primarily on optimization: making improvements to cloud processes to streamline and control costs. The position requires knowledge of coding languages, network protocol, and often experience with DevOps practices as well. 

AI architect

Median Salary: £53,000 (UK)

An effective AI architect generally needs experience with data science, and an understanding of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) as well as cloud technology. 

In-demand technical skills

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear market leader among cloud providers, with 32 percent of the total global revenues. Microsoft Azure follows at 20 percent, Google Cloud at 9 percent, and Alibaba at 6 percent. Certifications and experience in these technologies are valued by hiring companies, with those certified in AWS typically earning more than those without. 

Other in-demand skills include: 

  • Linux 

  • Java 

  • Docker 

  • Kubernetes 

  • DevOps 

In-demand soft skills

No cloud role can operate effectively in a bubble. Generating buy-in and cooperation among different departments, and managing expectations among key stakeholders are becoming an important part of the job. This means that technologists can no longer rely on their technical skills alone – soft skills are increasingly important as well. These include: 

  • Leadership skills 

  • Communication 

  • Flexibility 

  • Empathy 

  • Problem-solving 

  • Organization and time management 

The demand for cloud technologists is rising, in part due to the way that the COVID-19 pandemic increased the importance of remote accessibility and collaborative tools supported by the cloud.

Technological experience and certification are required in many roles, but the high demand and limited supply of these candidates may represent an opportunity for candidates and for employers alike. Candidates may benefit from accessing a job role at an introductory level that they can use to grow their skills and reach a higher level. At the same time, businesses can benefit by selecting a candidate that may lack experience now but that has the capacity to learn and grow.

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