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Compare CompTIA Cloud+ vs Cloud Essentials+ certifications

CompTIA Cloud+ and Cloud Essentials cover various areas and target different career paths. Find out which certification is right for you and how to prepare.

Cloud certifications are as common as clouds in the sky. Many vendors have taken unique approaches to making their certification program stand out. One vendor, CompTIA, has made its name by providing platform-agnostic certifications. CompTIA currently offers two cloud certifications: CompTIA Cloud+ and CompTIA Cloud Essentials+.

Cloud services are still one of IT's biggest topics -- even with the rising AI star -- and job seekers need to be familiar with them.

This article compares Cloud+ vs. Cloud Essentials+ in various aspects, such as objectives, target audience and value to your career. Find out which cloud certification is best for you or if you'll benefit from holding them both.

What is the CompTIA Cloud+ certification?

Cloud+ is among the top-tier certifications CompTIA offers. It's a difficult exam that requires a significant amount of prerequisite knowledge. CompTIA refreshes exams approximately every three years.

The certification objectives list the concepts and practices the test focuses on. This exam covers five knowledge domains:

  • Cloud architecture and design.
  • Security.
  • Deployment.
  • Operations and support.
  • Troubleshooting.

CompTIA provides the following details:

  • Exam number. CV0-003.
  • Exam cost. $369.
  • Length of test. 90 minutes.
  • Passing score. 750.
  • Recommended experience. Two to three years of system and network administrator experience as well as experience with at least one cloud platform.

Cloud+ target audience

CompTIA designed Cloud+ to cover a more technical, hands-on body of knowledge. It's intended for IT administrators who will deploy, maintain and troubleshoot cloud services. It assumes a significant amount of system and network administration experience as well as knowledge of CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Server+ concepts.

Cloud+ candidates should understand design and deployment issues, including cloud migrations. You will also need experience with cloud-based networking, such as virtual private clouds. As always, there's a strong element of security throughout the exam topics. Optimizing, rightsizing and scaling resources are also critical topics for Cloud+.

Many businesses are taking an integrated approach to cloud services, where some services are hosted on premises and the rest are hosted by two or more cloud service providers. Organizations use this multi-cloud approach to maximize service and minimize cost. That means administrators need skills that transition between cloud vendors. It also emphasizes cloud storage options.

A well-rounded body of knowledge of these topics goes a long way towards advancing your career.

Prepare for cloud certifications.

What is the CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ certification?

Cloud Essentials+ is one of CompTIA's professional series certifications, alongside Project+, Data+ and DataSys+. It emphasizes the business practices around cloud services and how those practices impact an organization.

The objectives sound similar to Cloud+, but this cloud certification focuses on business aspects rather than technical management. That includes the following:

  • Cloud concepts.
  • Business principles of cloud environments.
  • Management and technical operations.
  • Governance, risk, compliance and security for the cloud

CompTIA offers these details for those pursuing Cloud Essentials+:

  • Exam number. CLO-002.
  • Exam cost. $138.
  • Length of test. 60 minutes.
  • Passing score. 720.
  • Recommended experience. Six to 12 months as a business analyst in an IT environment.

Cloud Essentials+ target audience

This exam domain exposes businesspeople to cloud vocabulary and differentiates cloud-based services from traditional server-hosted resources. The idea is to give analysts an idea of what cloud administrators -- who are most likely Cloud+ certified -- talk about.

The remaining domains discuss the impact of cloud migrations on an organization's business practices. For example, one of the most significant changes is a shift from capital expenditures in the form of large, expensive server purchases to operating expenses through monthly subscription fees. This change alone heavily impacts the accounts payable team and the annual budget process.

Cloud Essentials+ frequently covers topics surrounding managing costs through optimizing cloud resources. These topics relate to business concerns that must be communicated to administrators.

Which cloud certification exam is best for you?

I was a systems administrator for years, and my career suffered because I lacked understanding of business practices and concerns. Furthermore, these business skills are essential if you intend to move into IT leadership roles. That makes Cloud Essentials+ a great choice for technical people.

While I think in-the-trenches cloud administrators would benefit from the Cloud Essentials+ content, I don't believe the reverse is true. Even in a cloud environment, business analysts don't need to know anything about day-to-day cloud administration. The other reason I suggest Cloud Essentials+ for administrators is its relative simplicity. It's not as technical an exam as other CompTIA tests, and it draws on cloud terminology you probably already know.

Both certifications are a good way of advancing your career. They offer a vendor-agnostic look at cloud services, which indicates a solid command of the basics. It also means you're well prepared for multi-cloud deployments, where an organization hosts different services in different cloud environments, such as some services in AWS and others in Azure.

It's worth noting that both exams put a premium on optimizing cloud resources to control costs.

Damon Garn owns Cogspinner Coaction and provides freelance IT writing and editing services. He has written multiple CompTIA study guides, including the Linux+, Cloud Essentials+ and Server+ guides, and contributes extensively to TechTarget Editorial and CompTIA Blogs.

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