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Top 11 cloud certifications for 2024

Cloud certifications are available for all levels of cloud expertise. Use this guide to evaluate basic, topic-specific, high-level and vendor-neutral certifications.

For those seeking to fill the skills gap or enter the IT field for the first time, cloud certifications are an excellent way to demonstrate skills, provide value to employers and ensure up-to-date knowledge of the latest technologies.

Explore a list of the top cloud certifications for both newcomers and experienced administrators. It also provides certification details, costs, prerequisites and additional vendor information. These certification providers offer other training and certification options, but the selected examples broadly explore the options cloud professionals have in their cloud computing careers.

Get started with cloud administration

Fundamental cloud administration skills are a good place to start, particularly for people new to an organization's cloud team. Microsoft offers a certification geared toward newer Azure administrators.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals candidates demonstrate knowledge of basic computing, networking and storage concepts. The test also covers software development, security and database management basics.

  • Certification exam. AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals.
  • Exam cost. $99.
  • Exam time. N/A.
  • Number of questions. N/A.
  • Minimum passing score. 700.

Microsoft offers both self-paced and instructor-led training options.

Increase cloud administration skills

Candidates with some cloud experience can upgrade their skills to the next level. Amazon and Microsoft administrator certifications test on a more intermediate cloud skill set.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate

Amazon offers a certification specific to those with experience deploying, managing and operating AWS cloud resources. The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate certification builds on fundamental knowledge and experience using multiple choice questions. AWS offers self-paced learning opportunities and instructor-led courses. Third-party training options are also available.

  • Certification exam. SOA-C02 AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate.
  • Exam cost. $150.
  • Exam time. 130 minutes.
  • Number of questions. N/A.
  • Minimum passing score. 720.

Download the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SOA-C02) Exam Guide for the objectives, candidate description, exam details and more. Test-takers have 130 minutes to complete the exam.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

The Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate certification focuses on implementing, managing and monitoring Microsoft Azure offerings. These administrators daily manage the scalability, availability, capacity and operations for their organization's Azure deployment.

The related exam is the AZ-104 Microsoft Azure Administrator. As with Azure Fundamentals, Microsoft offers both self-paced and instructor-led learning options.

  • Certification exam. AZ-104 Microsoft Azure Administrator.
  • Exam cost. $165.
  • Exam time. N/A.
  • Number of questions. N/A.
  • Minimum passing score. 700.

Objectives for this exam changed on Oct. 6, 2023, so candidates need to ensure they're using current exam materials.

Focus on cloud and DevOps

What about those with more specialized knowledge or career goals? The continued excitement around DevOps lends itself to cloud administration. With that in mind, Google offers a DevOps-specific certification.

Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer

Google recognizes the importance of DevOps roles with the Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification. Exam candidates use Google approaches to create delivery pipelines, optimize services, manage reliability and performance, and apply site reliability engineering practices.

  • Certification exam. Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer.
  • Exam cost. $200.
  • Exam time. 120 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 50 to 60 multiple choice/answer.
  • Minimum passing score. N/A.

Google offers various learning resources for Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer candidates, including hands-on labs and training courses. This training supplements the suggested three years of experience. Check out the exam guide for more information. Test-takers have 120 minutes to complete the 50 to 60 multiple-choice exam questions.

Developers and the cloud

Developers are not left behind in certifications. AWS offers a specific cloud developer training and certification program aimed at helping developers create efficient and secure cloud apps.

AWS Certified Developer - Associate

Developers with knowledge of at least one high-level programming language and experience with basic cloud deployments might pursue the AWS Certified Developer - Associate certification. This exam includes CI/CD practices, cloud app optimization and secure coding concepts. Expect 65 multiple-choice questions with a 130-minute time limit.

  • Certification exam. DVA-C02 AWS Certified Developer - Associate.
  • Exam cost. $150.
  • Exam time. 130 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 65 multiple choice/answer.
  • Minimum passing score. 720.

Download the official exam guide for more details, including the intended audience and objectives for the AWS DVA-C02 exam.

Specialize in cloud security

Security is a universal topic in IT certifications. The following certifications are vendor neutral, which is important to organizations that want to avoid vendor lock-in. It's also critical to candidates who need knowledge across a broad spectrum of services.

Certified Cloud Security Professional

Candidates for the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification face questions on cloud architecture and design, data security, platform security, application security and compliance concepts. The CCSP also satisfies the Department of Defense Directive 8570.1. Download exam details for more test information.

The CCSP is unique because it requires proof of five years of cloud security experience. Candidates are awarded the Associate status if they pass the exam without the related work experience.

  • Certification exam. CCSP Certification Exam.
  • Exam cost. $599.
  • Exam time. 240 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 150 multiple choice.
  • Minimum passing score. 700.

GIAC Cloud Security Automation

The GIAC Cloud Security Automation certification provides knowledge about various cloud security skills and practices, including DevOps, security controls, services, containers, infrastructure as code and more. It is a vendor-neutral certification, making it attractive to employers managing hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

  • Certification exam. GIAC Cloud Security Automation.
  • Exam cost. $949.
  • Exam time. 120 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 75.
  • Minimum passing score. 61%.

Architecting the cloud

Architecture is the pinnacle of cloud skills. From hybrid cloud to multi-cloud to security, cloud architects are responsible for it all. AWS and Google offer opportunities to fulfill this role.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional

AWS offers an advanced, professional-level certification suggested for candidates with two or more years of AWS problem-solving and optimization experience. Knowledge focuses on performance, cost optimization and security. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification also strongly emphasizes automation, which is a critical part of current cloud deployments.

  • Certification exam. SAP-C02 AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional.
  • Exam cost. $300.
  • Exam time. 180 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 75 multiple choice/answer.
  • Minimum passing score. 750.

Download the official exam guide to learn more about the SAP-C02 exam. Candidates face 75 multiple-choice/multiple-answer questions during the three-hour exam.

Google Professional Cloud Architect

Google offers the Professional Cloud Architect certification to recognize individuals skilled at architecting cloud designs at their organization. Exam areas include planning, designing and provisioning effective cloud services. It also covers optimizing processes, designing for compliance and managing scalability. Candidates have two hours to answer 50 to 60 multiple-choice questions. Many questions focus on specific case studies, as noted in the exam guide.

  • Certification exam. Google Professional Cloud Architect.
  • Exam cost. $200.
  • Exam time. 120 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 50 to 60 multiple choice.
  • Minimum passing score. N/A.

Like the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification above, Google considers the Professional Cloud Architect to be an advanced measure of architecting skills.

Broader cloud knowledge

Most certification candidates choose a path using their company's preferred vendor, such as AWS, Microsoft or Google. What about those who need a more well-rounded skill set that provides vendor-agnostic knowledge of cloud services? Or those who work for organizations planning a multi-cloud deployment? That's where CompTIA Cloud+ comes in.

CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA has long been a recognized leader in the IT certification realm. Certifications such as A+, Network+ and Security+ provide some of the most sought-after skills. The CompTIA Cloud+ certification provides a vendor-agnostic test that emphasizes skills and practices common to all cloud environments. Learn about general cloud concepts, cloud networking, storage, security principles and more while preparing for the CVO-003 certification exam.

  • Certification exam. CompTIA Cloud+ Exam CVO-003.
  • Exam cost. $358.
  • Exam time. 90 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 90 multiple choice and performance based.
  • Minimum passing score. 750.

CompTIA refreshes its certifications in three-year cycles. Expect a new set of Cloud+ objectives in the summer of 2024. Check the CompTIA Cloud+ website for more information. Both CompTIA and third-party training vendors help with exam prep. Note that CompTIA considers Cloud+ to be one of its most advanced certifications.

Cloud for business professionals and decision-makers

Finally, it's worth noting that not everyone needing cloud knowledge seeks to be a cloud administrator. Accounting professionals, business leaders and decision-makers all need a certain amount of cloud vocabulary to understand how the cloud affects and changes business processes. A great example is the shift from traditional on-premises server rooms full of equipment billed as Capex to cloud subscriptions as Opex.

The CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ certification offers this knowledge, providing participants with the concepts and vocabulary they need to interact with cloud architects, administrators and security professionals.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials+

CompTIA's Cloud Essentials+ (Exam CLO-002) certification fills an essential role in cloud services. Instead of focusing on administration tasks, such as security or web app deployments, it emphasizes the business ramifications of the cloud. These ramifications include financial choices, cloud models and compliance.

  • Certification exam. CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ Exam CLO-002.
  • Exam cost. $134.
  • Exam time. 60 minutes.
  • Number of questions. 75 multiple choice.
  • Minimum passing score. 720.

Candidates have one hour to answer 75 multiple-choice questions on basic cloud concepts as they affect business.

Cloud Essentials+ is geared toward nontechnical employees who must understand and decide on cloud resources but are not responsible for regular administration tasks. This is many people, so organizations should ensure they don't leave these employees behind.

Wrap up

Day-to-day system operator skills are crucial. But consider supplementing these certifications with DevOps and security credentials to add deployment best practices and increase career opportunities.

Some Microsoft certification exams might be recognized for college credits, so those also pursuing a degree might consider that route.

It's in cloud professionals' best interest to increase their knowledge and effectiveness around their company's chosen cloud vendor. But with the current focus on multi-cloud services, vendor-agnostic certifications are worthy of attention.

Editor's note: These certifications were selected based on popular roles and are the opinion of the contributor.

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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