If you are planning to reskill or upskill and dive into cloud computing anytime soon, chances are you have already looked into cloud certifications. Availability is not a problem here – various providers offer a vast selection of certifications, and there’s certainly something for everyone. However, choosing which one is right for you might be trickier. Let’s review some of the most important features you should evaluate before picking your first cloud certification to obtain!

Vendor-Neutral or Vendor-Specific?

All cloud certifications currently available on the market can be separated into two massive categories: those focusing on general cloud computing concepts and principles and those concentrating on a particular cloud platform (such as AWS or Google Cloud). The former is commonly known as vendor-neutral, and the latter as vendor-specific.

Having a vendor-neutral cloud certification proves you are familiar with cloud computing’s general best practices and have a strong understanding of this technology. Some would argue it’s more theory-based and has less to do with practice, as you are not getting to know any system from the inside and learning how to use it – however, this means it can act as a strong foundation before opting for vendor-specific certifications.

A vendor-specific cloud certification is focused on a specific vendor (no surprise there) and proves that its holder is capable of using the platform professionally. Having a confirmation of your practical skills and knowledge of a certain system’s products and services is not just a great help in finding a job but can also significantly shorten the onboarding and training process. Typically, these certifications are issued by the cloud service providers themselves.

Best Vendor-Neutral Certifications Currently on the Market

When you’re looking for a vendor-specific cloud computing certification, your choice is a bit limited (and hence made easier) by knowing which platform you want to master. When it comes to vendor-neutral certifications, however, you need to make sure you choose a reliable provider and obtain well-recognized and acknowledged credentials.

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) currently offers a choice of two cloud certifications: Cloud Essentials+ and Cloud+. According to CompTIA itself, these are the only vendor-neutral cloud computing certifications that are recognized internationally.

As the name itself suggests, a holder of a Cloud Essentials+ certification knows the basics of cloud computing – however, someone who has passed the Cloud+ exam is a lot more proficient in the area. This certification covers various technical concepts and topics you need to know to work in any data center, including but not limited to cloud maintenance, configurations, security, and troubleshooting.

Vendor-Specific: Mastering Platforms from Scratch

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud – each of these cloud service providers have their own certification programs with multiple types of credentials available. If you or your employer has a clear favorite, choosing which one to obtain might be simple – but what if you don’t?

If you have no preference on which platform you’d like to master but wish to dive into a specific one and be ready to get employed in the field as soon as possible, your safest bet is undoubtedly AWS. First to offer cloud services to the public in 2013, it is still the global market leader – and by learning from all-inclusive online courses like this one from BitDegree Academy, you can prepare for the Foundational level certification in less than a month.

Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud certifications are also pretty solid choices – especially if you plan to get cross-certified in multiple market-leading platforms. According to Global Knowledge’s Top-Paying IT Certifications list for 2020, the best-earning cloud specialists hold 3–6 cloud certifications on average – and they don’t limit themselves with just one cloud provider, either. In addition to that, 5 out of 15 IT certifications listed are cloud-related – and, interestingly enough, none of them is vendor-neutral (there are 2 for AWS, 2 for Azure, and 1 for Google Cloud).

After You Make Your Choice

Certification exams are paid and rather time-consuming, so once you choose a type of cloud credentials you would like to obtain, make sure you do a good job as you prepare and revise. Online courses are probably the best option for that: there’s no wasting time for commuting, the price is often lower than that of the on-campus classes, and the content is more likely to be constantly updated and enriched.

Don’t be afraid to set ambitious goals for yourself – become a cloud specialist in 2021 and enjoy an innovative and gratifying career!