The 15 Highest-Paying Cloud Computing Certifications
IT talent is in high demand, but that doesn’t mean landing an IT job is easy. The battle for the hottest IT roles can be fierce in even the most labor-friendly markets. With many organizations laying off workers and slowing their hiring efforts, 2023 could ratchet up the competition even further.
Despite potential headwinds, earning a cloud computing certification can help IT pros set themselves apart as proven skills remain highly coveted.
Certification is, in general, a good idea for IT pros. According to Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report, 91% of IT pros hold at least one certification, and 56% of certification holders say certifications have made them better at their jobs. IT pros also report that certification makes them more engaged (41%) and can lead directly to raises (19%).
Employers value certifications just as much as IT pros do — perhaps even more so. The IT Skills and Salary Report found that 96% of IT managers feel certified staff add value to the organization, and 41% say certification is key to closing their skills gaps.
Certifications for cloud computing can be especially powerful differentiators, as cloud computing skills are the number one investment area for tech leaders today, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report. Earning a cloud certification can help IT pros — beginners and veterans alike — land new jobs or become more valuable to their current employers.
Of course, there are a lot of different cloud technology certifications out there. Determining which are the best will largely depend on the individual, their career goals, and the kinds of cloud technology their employer already uses.
That said, some cloud certifications are more lucrative than others. Let’s take a look at the 15 highest-paying cloud certifications in the United States.
Also Read:15 Top-Paying IT Certifications
The 15 Highest-Paying Cloud Certifications
1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world's most popular cloud computing platform, accounting for an estimated 32% of the cloud market. It’s no wonder that multiple AWS-related certifications rank among the highest-paying. In fact, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification is not just the top-paying cloud certification but the highest-paying IT certification period, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report.
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification focuses on the skills IT pros need to successfully design and deploy AWS apps, covering topics like system design, identity and access management (IAM), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), and more.
As a prerequisite, IT pros should first earn the lower-level AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification (more on that below). Additionally, Amazon recommends 2+ years of hands-on experience with AWS cloud architecture. Then, IT pros must pass a 75-question exam. The exam costs $300.
Read Next: The Top 5 Highest-Paying AWS Certifications (North America)
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2. Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect
Google Cloud is the third-largest cloud platform in the world by market share, and the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect certification is the Google equivalent to Amazon’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect.
Like its AWS counterpart, Google’s Professional Cloud Architect certification focuses on skills like designing cloud solutions, security and compliance, managing cloud infrastructure, and optimizing business processes. Also worth noting: This particular certification is the third highest-paying certification overall, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report.
There are no prerequisites, but Google recommends 3+ years of relevant experience, including at least one year of Google Cloud experience. The certification exam is 50-60 questions and costs $200.
Read Next: The 5 Highest Paying Google Cloud Certifications (North America)
3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
As mentioned earlier, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate is one rung below (and a prerequisite for) AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional. So if you’re after the highest-paying cloud computing certification, you’ll want to consider this one first.
Regarding specific skills, the Solutions Architect - Associate certification focuses on designing cost-effective and performance-optimized cloud solutions. Because this certification is designed to give IT pros a strong foundation in AWS, it doesn’t require as much prior knowledge. While some hands-on experience with AWS is recommended, Amazon explicitly notes the exam “does not require deep hands-on coding experience.” All things considered, this could be one of the best cloud certifications for beginners.
To earn this certification, IT pros must pass a 65-question multiple choice exam, which costs $150.
4. AWS Certified Security - Specialty
This certification is a more specialized than the cloud computing certifications covered so far, as it focuses on creating and deploying secure AWS solutions. The AWS Security - Specialty certification is also one of the highest-paying cybersecurity certifications, making it doubly in demand among IT pros and organizations alike.
In addition to general cloud security concepts, this certification focuses on AWS-specific data protection, encryption, and secure internet protocol mechanisms. The exam is 65 questions and costs $300. Amazon recommends at least five years of IT security experience and two years of hands-on AWS security experience. While there are no prerequisites, it can help to earn an AWS Solutions Architect certification first.
5. NCP-MCI - Nutanix Certified Professional - Multicoud Infrastructure
The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform provides the foundation for many organizations’ private clouds. The NCP-MCI certification validates an IT pro’s ability to work with Nutanix’s platform to manage virtual infrastructure, conduct routine maintenance, and perform disaster recovery operations when necessary.
Nutanix recommends that IT pros have 1 to 2 years of general IT infrastructure experience and at least 6 months of Nutanix experience before seeking this cloud infrastructure certification. The exam itself is $199 and consists of 75 multiple-choice questions.
6. Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Microsoft is the number two cloud provider in the market, and its Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification focuses on the mastery of various computing, network, storage, and security components of Azure. In particular, holders of this certification are expected to know how to design and deploy monitoring, IAM, data storage, and infrastructure solutions in Azure environments.
As denoted by the word “Expert” in its name, this cloud service certification is not for novices. Microsoft recommends “advanced” knowledge of IT operations, including Azure administration, development, and DevOps. IT pros must also earn an Azure Administrator Associate (more on that below) certification before trying for this one. The exam fee is $165.
7. Google Cloud - Cloud Digital Leader
The Cloud Digital Leader certification is an outlier on this list, as it doesn’t focus much on deep tech skills. Instead, this certification centers on foundational knowledge about Google Cloud’s products, services, and common use cases.
Holders of this certification aren’t necessarily implementing cloud infrastructure, but they can clearly explain what Google Cloud is and how it fits into an organization’s digital transformation efforts. As such, the Cloud Digital Leader certification is a good fit for IT pros who regularly work with non-technical business units. The certification exam has no prerequisites and costs $99.
8. AWS Certified Big Data - Specialty
This cloud data certification focuses on skills like automating complex analyses, working with core AWS big data services, and designing and maintaining big data storage solutions.
While there are no mandatory prerequisites, Amazon recommends holding a related AWS certification like Cloud Practitioner or Solutions Architect and a minimum of five years of experience in data analytics. The exam costs $300.
9. VCP-DCV – VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization
VCP-DCV certification focuses on implementing and managing infrastructure for vSphere, VMware’s virtualization platform.
The VCP-DCV certification is updated regularly to reflect the continuous evolution of vSphere. IT pros with older forms of the certification are encouraged to spend time with the latest version of vSphere before sitting for the newest exam. Those IT pros with no previous VCP certifications are required to attend at least one of VMWare’s training courses and pass a certification exam. The exam fee is $250.
10. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is considered an excellent introductory cloud tech certification, as it focuses on cloud computing fundamentals. This certification is recommended for IT pros who are new to AWS, non-IT pros who are interested in AWS-related careers, and non-technical employees whose roles require some knowledge of AWS. There are no prerequisites, and the exam costs $100.
11. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals
The Azure Data Fundamentals certification focuses on the skills required to work with data in Microsoft Azure. In addition to general knowledge of data and data science, this certification also deals with Azure-specific subjects like Azure SQL Database and Azure Stream Analytics.
Microsoft recommends having extensive knowledge of Azure before trying for this certification. There are no mandatory prerequisites, but candidates may want to earn an Azure Fundamentals certification (see below) first. The exam costs $99.
12. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
The Azure Administrator Associate certification focuses on core Azure skills like identities and governance, managing virtual networks, and monitoring and backups.
Microsoft recommends that candidates first familiarize themselves with general networking and virtualization concepts and get some hands-on experience with Microsoft services like PowerShell and Microsoft Azure Active Directory, among others. The exam costs $165.
13. Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
The Azure Fundamentals certification is, as its name suggests, aimed at professionals who are new to Microsoft Azure. As such, it centers on general cloud computing concepts and basic Azure services, workloads, and security.
While the Azure Fundamentals certification isn’t a prerequisite for further Azure certifications, it can be the best starting point for IT pros who want to earn an Azure Data Fundamentals or Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. The exam costs $99.
14. AWS Certified Advanced Networking - Specialty
The AWS Advanced Networking - Specialty certification focuses on the networking side of the cloud. To earn this cloud certification, IT pros will need to master skills like designing and maintaining AWS network architecture and automating AWS network tasks. They'll also need a strong knowledge of advanced networking architectures like multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and virtual private LAN service (VPLS).
There are no prerequisites, but holding another relevant AWS certification like Cloud Practitioner or Solutions Architect can help. Amazon also recommends having at least five years of experience with network architecture. The exam costs $300.
Just Missed the Cut
15. Google Cloud — Professional Data Engineer
This certification is a regular on lists like these, claiming the top spot in 2021 as the highest-paying IT certification overall. This year, it just barely missed the cut.
Those who did report holding this certification are among the highest earners in the field, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report. Professionals with this certification can design and operationalize data processing systems and machine learning models.
Before sitting the exam, candidates should have at least 3 years of industry experience, with at least 1 being with Google Cloud specifically. The exam is two hours and costs $200.
Finding the Right Certifications for Cloud Computing With Skillsoft
When exploring cloud certification paths, it can be tough to know where to begin. One place to start is considering the specific cloud platforms you want to work with — or the ones your organization already uses.
Beyond that, IT pros should think about their career goals. For example, something like Azure Data Fundamentals might be a good fit if you want to work in data analytics. If you’re more interested in cybersecurity, AWS Certified Security - Specialty might better serve you.
IT pros should also consider the cloud provider certifications they already hold, if any. For example, if you’re already a certified Google Cloud Associate Engineer, it may make more sense to keep climbing the Google certification ladder rather than starting from scratch with a brand-new platform.
For more information on picking the right cloud-related certifications, check out How to Select the Right Certification for You. No matter what path you choose, Skillsoft has a full library of cloud courses to help you earn a certification that takes your career — and your salary — to the next level.
How We Built This List
Our U.S. list of the top-paying cloud certifications is based on survey responses from the Skillsoft 2022 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted May 2022 to August 2022. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs and experience, certifications and salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.
The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers, certification bodies and Skillsoft, among others. Over 2,500 IT professionals in the U.S. participated.
To qualify for our list, a certification must have at least 50 U.S. survey responses to be considered. Then, we consider relevance, demand, and certification requirements. Salaries are not normalized for cost-of-living or location (e.g., California vs. Montana).