Experience Trumps Certifications for Cloud Jobs

If you’re a cloud engineer, architect, developer or support specialist with strong cloud computing skills, you’re in luck. Demand for professionals like you vastly exceeds supply.

Some cloud and sunrays1.2 million cloud jobs went unfilled during 2012, says Marcus Robertson, chief technical officer of True Ability, a San Antonio IT staffing company. Research firm IDC says that number is close to 1.7 million and estimates there will be as many as 7 million cloud jobs by 2015.

“I have hired about 150 people here in Austin to do customer support and development,” says Emil Sayegh, CEO and president of Codero Hosting.

His biggest challenge is finding developers. He’s looking for people “who have not only developed a small piece of software, but have learned how to develop for massive scales (of clients), or are interested in learning,” he says. “I look for developers with skills, not experience in specific languages. A good developer is a good developer regardless because the language is easy to learn and the logic is what matters.”

True Ability’s Robertson says that in addition to developers, he sees a high demand for systems engineers and quality assurance engineers.

Experience Counts

While more companies — like hosting provider Rackspace — are offering cloud certifications, a number of tech executives say hands-on experience is worth much more than the credentials.

“People interested in this field need to go try it themselves, play with it, get experience with cloud technology and learn how it works,” Sayegh says. He suggests getting involved in open-source communities like OpenStack, Cloud Foundry or CloudStack, where you can write lines of code and include the work on your resume. “I will hold that more credible if somebody told me they had committed these many lines of code to open-source projects than the certifications they would show me,” he adds.

Get Your Credentials, But How?

If you don’t have a lot of experience, credentials can help, but they’re not a magic bullet.

“The field is moving very quickly,” observes Martin Dunsby, CEO of Hybridge, a Redwood City, California, company that provides IT solutions for small businesses. “It would be hard for someone to take a course and get certified, because there’s a fairly high chance that at the end of the course, what they’ve learned wouldn’t be relevant.” Much like Sayegh, Dunsby and his team put a stronger premium on experience than on certifications.

However, all agree that since cloud computing is an evolving field, there are several paths to getting the right credentials if you want them. For example, many technical colleges or institutes offer courses in cloud computing, ranging in length from a few weeks to several months.

Murshed Chowdhury, CEO of recruiter Infusive Solutions, says students should expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for a course. He does point out that there are free training options as well. Besides free webinars, he suggests looking at LinkedIn groups, which include an array of experts. He also advises that you attend the appropriate Meetups that are held in cities like Washington, D.C., and New York.

Despite the trove of available jobs, hiring managers say it’s still important to market yourself smartly and to do some self-evaluation if you have difficulty landing a job. “If you’re known as the cloud guy and can’t communicate that to me, that’s a problem,” explains Sayegh, adding that you need to ask yourself a series of questions if you can’t find work.

“How well do you know the material? Where are you located? Are you using a recruiter? Are you networking? Is it the resume?” Only by addressing those fundamentals, he says, will employers recognize right away that you’re a serious candidate.

3 Responses to “Experience Trumps Certifications for Cloud Jobs”

  1. Fred Bosick

    Catch 22 anyone?

    There are plenty of skilled IT people out there, especially those displaced by outsourcing and offshoring. Expecting to fill 7 million “cloud” jobs by hiring only experienced people is lunacy.

    • Mark Feffer

      Fred, you should note the passage where it says many companies are willing to train people if they can’t find their preferred people. Wouldn’t surprise me if that willingness expanded over time.