What Does a Cloud Architect Do? A Day in the Life

April 29, 2024 | Activate Learning | 7 min read

Cloud computing has become core to business, underpinning an organization’s ability to transform its operations, improve productivity, and far more. Cloud platforms host the capabilities and apps that workers across disciplines rely on — from software engineering to executive leadership and everywhere in between. 

The rise of remote work has further accentuated the reliance on cloud-based collaboration tools and infrastructure, amplifying the already existing need for skilled cloud professionals who can not only ensure seamless operations and security, but do so in global or distributed environments. 

Given the demand for cloud computing professionals is fierce— especially considering the rise of generative AI, the severity of security attacks, and the reliance on cloud solutions at work and at home — these roles are among the toughest to hire. In fact, according to our IT Skills and Salary Report, 82% of decision-makers say the demand for cloud computing skills is increasing within their organizations.

Why? Cloud computing skills have become synonymous with resilience, innovation, and growth, making them indispensable in today's digital-first era and driving their continued demand.

It’s no wonder that cloud computing certifications top the list of most popular and pursued certifications worldwide, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft cited as priority vendors. Certifications from these companies also command some of the highest salaries for those professionals who’ve earned them. 

In fact, Google Cloud’s Professional Cloud Architect tops the overall top-paying certifications list, with U.S.-based certification-holders earning an average annual salary of $200,960. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional certification comes in fourth with an annual average salary of $174,137. 

Cloud architects, solution architects and those carry out similar functions are often highly paid and sought-after professionals, whose job plays a critical role for their organizations. 

But what exactly does a cloud architect do? How many different certifications do they have? How happy are they in their role? And what are their day-to-day challenges?

Let’s pull back the curtain on a day in the life of a cloud architect. 

What is a Cloud Architect?

There are different types of cloud architects — or solutions architects — but in the realm of cloud computing, an architect is the mastermind behind the cloud infrastructure. 

These architects serve as the linchpin between business objectives and technological possibilities, translating the former into robust, scalable solutions on various cloud platforms — such as AWS, Google, or Azure. 

At their core, a cloud architect is a problem solver, tasked with designing and implementing effective, cloud-based solutions to execute on business objectives. Unlike traditional architects who design physical structures, cloud architects work with cloud engineers, developers, and other stakeholders to design and implement solutions that leverage the capabilities of public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, while ensuring regulatory and legal compliance.

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What does a Cloud Architect do?

A cloud architect is responsible for architecting scalable, reliable, and secure cloud environments that optimize performance, enhance flexibility, and drive business value. 

That means their day-to-day duties are often quite varied, depending on the organization and project requirements. At a high level, here are some of their overarching responsibilities:

  • Analyze business requirements: Conduct a comprehensive analysis of business requirements, stakeholder needs, and existing IT infrastructure to gain a deep understanding of objectives, constraints, and desired outcomes.
  • Design cloud solutions: Based on this analysis, design cloud solutions to meet the business requirements, architecting a mix of cloud services, platforms, and technologies.
  • Evaluate technologies: Once the architecture is designed, cloud architects evaluate different cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and deployment models (public, private, hybrid) to determine the most suitable approach.
  • Guide development and implementation: Provide the development team with detailed technical documentation — such as architecture diagrams, interface specifications, and data models — which are essential to build and implement the solution correctly.
  • Ensure security and compliance: Design and implement security controls, encryption mechanisms, and identity management solutions to protect cloud assets from cyber threats and data breaches, as well as ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards.

What Do Cloud Solution Architects Earn?

Globally, cloud architects make $135,882 on average. In the United States, the average annual salary climbs to $200,471. Salaries vary widely based on the region, according to our IT Skills and Salary Report — which is the result of thousands of IT professionals worldwide graciously participating in our annual survey that you can take here! The report offers comprehensive insight into the value of skills and certifications, showing that architects make anywhere from $68,000 to more than $200,000. 

In this year’s overall top-paying certifications list, certified cloud architects earn some of the highest salaries among tech professionals. However, it’s important to remember that what a professional earns is the culmination of many factors. According to the architects who participated in the survey, the main factors that contribute to salary increases over one's career are (in order) job performance, developing new skills, typical company raises, promotions, and industry certifications. 

Here’s an overview of the average annual salaries for the top-paying cloud architect certifications (and similar roles):

CertificationAverage Salary (U.S.)
Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect $200,960
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $174,137
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert $136,674

Are Cloud Architects Happy with Their Careers?

When it comes to any job, salary isn’t everything. As part of our IT Skills and Salary survey, we also collect responses on job satisfaction. The good news? An overwhelming majority of cloud architects are satisfied in their role, with 82% stating they are extremely or somewhat satisfied. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 77% stated they feel extremely good or somewhat good about their job security, which is a reassuring position in this difficult job market.

What Challenges Do Cloud Architects Face?

While cloud architects are among some of the highest paying and overall satisfied roles within an organization, it doesn’t mean the job is without its challenges. Based on our survey results, here are the top challenges cloud architects face:

  1. Resource and budget constraints. Organizations are constantly under pressure to do more with less, which can result in longer lead times to complete projects or deliverables. For an architect to understand the constraints of the business and the aspirations or requirements for cloud resources, it’s important to clearly communicate back to stakeholders what’s feasible. Clear communication and presentation skills help while having tougher conversations on complex topics
  2. Unclear job roles and responsibilities. While some responsibilities may apply broadly to cloud architect roles, they can vary. Grappling with unclear job roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion and frustration. Here, too, clear communication and a regular dialogue with peers, managers, and stakeholders can help define roles and speed up project durations. 
  3. Employee morale. Despite favorable job satisfaction, they are still impacted by the overall employee morale, which is a common challenge in tech. For some, these roles are demanding and expansive, meaning these professionals must work cross-collaboratively to successfully carry out their duties. What’s more, given the nature of the roles — having to split focus between strategy and implementation — the work can come with a great deal of pressure to get it right. Communication with peers and managers can go a long way to alleviate some of this pressure by dividing the workload or allotting time away from work when it’s needed.  

What Training Do Cloud Solution Architects Prefer?

The demand for cloud certifications shows that training is essential to a cloud architect's success. But what types of training do these professionals prefer? 

It’s a mix. Most tend to train at their own pace, enjoying on-demand, interactive training. Others, however, would rather learn in person with their peers and an instructor. Both have their benefits. 

On-demand training caters to architects' heavy workloads, while in-person instruction allows for a more tailored experience. Architects who pursue live training led by an instructor can bounce ideas off an expert and ask more scenario-specific questions that speak to their day-to-day work.

When it comes to the subject of training, a majority focus their training on earning IT-focused certifications, which pays off in more ways than one. Surely, it gives their skills a monetary boost — but it also leads to higher job satisfaction, more engagement at work, and more. 

Overall, cloud architects are some of the industry's most in-demand and highest-paid professionals. Even more importantly, though, this career path is rewarding for those who participated in our annual survey. Largely, they enjoy their work, find it fulfilling, and have the peace of mind that comes with solid job security. 

If you’re interested in becoming a cloud architect, certification and training opportunities are designed for all levels. Explore options through Global Knowledge and Skillsoft for comprehensive cloud mastery.