Professional development

Which Cloud Certifications are Important for 2018?

January 30, 2017 by

If you work with the cloud on a regular basis, becoming certified by a trusted company will help you improve your career prospects and ensure that you have a high level of understanding about this important topic.

CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA Cloud Essentials debuted in November 2011. This certification had the distinction of being the first completely cloud-focused option put forth by the Computing Technology Industry Association and was developed in tandem with ITpreneurs and the Cloud Credential Council (CCC).

FREE role-guided training plans

FREE role-guided training plans

Get 12 cybersecurity training plans — one for each of the most common roles requested by employers.

Originally, this certification was known as just Cloud Essentials. This changed in 2013, though, when CompTIA released the Cloud+ version. This proved to be far more robust than the previous option. Amongst other things, this means it’s more appropriate for cloud IT professionals who have at least two or three years of experience. Aside from cloud computing, it also validates virtualization skills.

If you hope to earn this certification, you’ll need an intimate understanding of cloud methods and terminology, industry-best practices and IT security. You should know how to implement, deliver and maintain a cloud infrastructure, too. It will also help if you know about IT networking, network storage and data administration.

Again, this is meant for those who have been working in the field for at least three years.

Once you receive your Cloud+ certification, it remains valid for three years. Most people who work for it already have credentials like CompTIA Storage+, Server+, Security+ or Network+. To renew this certification, you will need to earn 50 CEUs (Continuing Education Units).

The exam for this certification features 100 questions. You have 90 minutes to answer them and must score a 750 out of 900 points. It will cost you $285 to take it. CompTIA’s website features a training page where you will find multiple resources to help you prepare for the exam, including sample test questions, exam objectives, books, training, study guides, CertMaster, e-learning tools and more. Numerous study guides are available all over the Internet, too.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

On March 31st, 2017, Microsoft will retire their MCSE: Private Cloud credential. The MCSE will be introduced in its place.

This certification was created to:

  • Recognize an individual’s ability to manage a data center
  • Validate skills in systems and identity management, network virtualization, storage and relevant cloud technologies
  • Provide a reliable framework for working with Microsoft cloud software that can be used as a frame of reference for professionals

However, before you can take the exam to earn this credential, you must first have done the same with one of the Microsoft Certified Solution Associate certifications below:

  • MCSA: Cloud Platform
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2016
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 Certifications
  • MCSA: Linux on Azure

Depending on the path you decide to take, each of these certifications requires at least two exams to earn. The Linux on Azure option requires that you have passed the Linux Foundation Certified System (LFCS) exam.

Furthermore, you will need to pass the MCSE specialty exam. These exams include a number of different topics like:

  • Development, implementation and architecture of Azure-related solutions
  • Design and implementation solutions for cloud data software
  • Design and implementation of big data analytics solutions
  • Security of Window Server 2016
  • Implementation of server infrastructures

Note: these requirements could change on a year-to-year basis. You’ll want to verify with the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure website to confirm current requirements, just in case. You’d hate to make a mistake when preparing for this exam.

Speaking of your preparations for this certification, MVA (Microsoft Virtual Academy) offers free courses and other training materials on a number of topics that are relevant to the exam. You may also be interested in an Exam Replay from Microsoft Learning. This will allow you to buy an exam with retake at a discounted bundle price. You can order practice exams too, if you like.

At the moment, MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure remains Microsoft’s sole cloud-labeled administrator certification. However, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web Applications certification includes a test that is just on Windows Azure and Web Services. Expect more certification topics related to the cloud in the future, though.

The total cost for the exam is $165.

VMware VCP6 – Cloud

There are a few important reasons VMware’s offering makes it onto our list of cloud certifications that are important in 2017, but the main one has to be that this company does virtualization better than anyone else. Though virtualization is essential to enabling the cloud, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This is not a problem with VMware. This subsidiary of Dell Technologies has become known for the many angles from which it has approached this important topic.

VMware’s newest cloud credential is the VCP6-CMA (Cloud Management and Automation) certification. It is awarded to IT professionals who are able to extend data virtualization all through the cloud.

There are four paths available to IT professionals who want to earn this credential. These are:

  • Current holders of the VCP6 credential who already possess a valid certification and, thus, will be automatically granted this new one related to the cloud.
  • Candidates who already have a VCP credential only have to pass Exam 2V0-631: VMware Certified Professional 6 – Cloud Management and Automation.
  • Those with an expired VCP certification are required to go through a training course and pass the 2V0-620: vSphere 6 Foundations Exam and Exam 2V0-631: VMware Certified Professionals 6 – Cloud Management and Automation.
  • Candidates who have no prior credentials with VMware will need to amass six months of experience with vRealize and vSphere 6, go through the mandatory training course and pass the exams we mentioned in the last bullet point.

VMware also offers other credentials that are relevant to IT professionals who must work with the cloud. These include:

  • VCA6-CMA: VMware Certified Associate – Cloud Management and Automation
  • VCA6-HC: VMware Certified Associate 6 – Hybrid Cloud
  • VCAP6-CMA Design: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 – Cloud Management and Automation Design
  • VCAP6-CMA Deploy: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 – Cloud Management and Automation Deployment
  • VCIX6-CMA: VMware Cloud Implementation Expert 6 – Cloud Management and Automation

Finally, VMware has clearly made it a priority to continue updating and replacing certifications to reflect new technologies. This is another reason to pursue your credentials through VMware: it makes it that much easier to earn whatever they offer next.

The VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX6-CMA) is a good example of this. Though it’s still in the works, it will most likely join the other options we have mentioned thus far as a well-respected version with a ton of potential.

For 2V0-620, the price is $225 for the exam. If you want 2V0-631, the price is $120. VMware’s certification page has everything from courses to study guides to instructional videos to community resources and more to help you prepare for either exam.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Back in May 2013, Amazon Web Services released its very popular AWS certification program. It consists of two associate-level certifications and three which are considered professional level.

For networking professionals who design and deploy cloud environments on AWS, and have been doing so for at least two years, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is an option. This credential was designed for people who work with clients by assessing their needs, planning and designing solutions that meet these needs, recommending an architecture for implementing and provisioning AWS applications and providing guidance for the entire life of such a project.

Candidates pursuing this certification should be very familiar with subject matter like business continuity, high availability, deployment management, data storage, cloud migration, hosting, network design, scalability, security, elasticity and hybrid architecture.

Other certifications in the AWS program include:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: This is the prerequisite certification for the professional-level version. It’s for workers who currently identify and gather requirements for solution plans and provide guidance on the best practices for the architecture required by AWS projects.
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate: This certification is designed for those who design, develop and implement cloud-based solutions by utilizing AWS.
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – This version is for people who provision systems and services on AWS, follows best practices, automates deployments and monitors metrics on the platform.
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Associate: This certification is most appropriate for professionals who provision, operate and manage distributed applications by leveraging AWS. These professionals may also:
  • Implement and maintain security controls, delivery systems, compliance and governance validation.
  • Define and deploy monitoring, metrics and log-in systems.
  • Maintains operational systems.

There’s no doubt that Amazon is currently king of the hill when it comes to the cloud computing service market. As such, you can expect the influence of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect to continue to grow. With more and more companies relying on it, an ever-growing amount will be looking for professionals with one of these credentials above.

The exam for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Level costs $300. You have 170 minutes. AWS offers an exam blueprint and sample test questions. The certification homepage also offers a number of other helpful resources for test preparation.


Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification has recently become a hot commodity. A big reason for this is the fact that it’s supported by ISC2 and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), two of the leading nonprofits in the entire world dedicated to cloud security.

This credential distinguishes those who have earned it as having an in-depth knowledge of cloud computing infrastructure security. Furthermore, it denotes that an individual has hands-on experience in this regard.

As such, the credential was created with a particular type of professional in mind: those who already have real-world experience as information security professionals. At least five years of such experience is required. This experience must have occurred on a full-time basis in an IT environment. It must have also included three years of information security experience and at least one specifically focused on cloud security.

Most midlevel professionals and above should have no problem meeting these requirements and benefiting greatly from the credential. Professionals who are CCSP certified generally have some history of doing the following:

  • IT Architecture
  • Information Security
  • Cloud Security Engineering
  • Web Security Engineering
  • Governance
  • IT Auditing
  • Risk and Compliance

Just about any IT professional with the required years of experience we mentioned above would be an appropriate candidate for CCSP certification provided they work with the cloud every single day.

Some examples of the job titles commonly held by people who seek CCSP certification include:

  • Enterprise Architect
  • Systems Engineer
  • Security Administrator
  • Security Consultant
  • Security Architect
  • Security Engineer
  • Systems Architect
  • Security Manager

This global credential was designed for taking on the global environment so many IT professionals find themselves dealing with, in large part due to the cloud’s capabilities. That’s why the CCSP certification also requires a high-level understanding of regulatory and compliance issues stemming from the multi-jurisdictional housing of all kinds of sensitive information.

The test itself will focus on:

  • Architectural Concepts & Design Requirements
  • Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security
  • Cloud Application Security
  • Cloud Data Security
  • Operations
  • Legal & Compliance

ISC² even provides an exam outline to help candidates study. For the actual test, applicants have four hours to complete it. The exam consists of 125 multiple choice questions. You must earn 700 out of a possible 1,000 points in order to pass.

Other helpful exam preparation resources include:

  • In-Class or Live OnLine Training
  • Interactive Flashcards
  • OnDemand Training

Like so many things with ISC², one of the major benefits of becoming certified through CCSP is that you have a frame of reference that is recognized by cloud professionals all over the planet.

This concludes our list of cloud certifications that are going to be most important in 2017. It should have given you more than enough variety to choose from in order to meet the unique needs of you or your company. Most importantly, these certifications should remain valid well past 2017, as well.


What should you learn next?

What should you learn next?

From SOC Analyst to Secure Coder to Security Manager — our team of experts has 12 free training plans to help you hit your goals. Get your free copy now.