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What is a cloud security engineer, and how do I become one?

A cloud security engineer has specific responsibilities for helping to secure cloud infrastructure, applications and IT assets.

The cloud security engineer role is a type of cloud engineer. While a cloud engineer has broad responsibilities in planning, deployment and management of cloud computing resources, the cloud security engineer is tasked specifically with securing information and applications in public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The work of a cloud security engineer is part of the larger effort devoted to maintaining cloud security.

What are the main responsibilities of cloud security engineers?

Cloud security engineers have a wide range of responsibilities, including the following:

  • Design. The design of secure cloud architectures is a core responsibility. Decisions must be made to select cloud services and configurations that minimize risk.
  • Implementation. Cloud security engineers are responsible for making sure cloud data and assets are protected. That protection includes the effective use of technologies such as encryption, as well as the management of identity and access controls to prevent data breaches and leaks.
  • Monitoring. Proactive and continuous monitoring of cloud environments for potential security risks is another part of the job. As part of these monitoring duties, cloud security engineers also conduct regular security assessments that might include penetration testing to evaluate the security posture.
  • Compliance. Ensuring compliance with applicable regulations is also a core responsibility. That includes conducting regular compliance audits and working with third-party auditors as necessary.
  • Education. Helping to foster a culture of security awareness is also part of the job. As cloud computing increasingly becomes a core part of all IT operations, security engineers should be willing to talk with their coworkers about good security habits.

What skills are required to be a cloud security engineer?

Cloud security engineers typically have a mix of technical skills, formal certifications and soft skills.

The outlook for cloud security careers appears promising, with strong growth prospects, competitive salaries and a high demand for skilled professionals.

The right technical skills include the following:

  • Linux experience. Many cloud instances and services rely on Linux as a foundational operating system.
  • Programming language proficiency. Commonly used languages in the cloud include JavaScript, Java and Python.
  • Cloud environment awareness. An understanding of cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, as well as their respective security tools and features, is a critical skill set.
  • Container experience. Much of the modern cloud relies on the use of container technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes. Awareness of container security concepts and best practices is a required skill.
  • Infrastructure as code familiarity. It is important to have skills in using tools such as Terraform because IaC is a prevailing deployment and management approach for cloud resources.
  • Cloud security tools experience. It is helpful to be familiar with common monitoring approaches and security tools, including cloud access security brokers (CASBs), cloud security posture management (CSPM), cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) and cloud-native application protection platforms (CNAPPs).
  • Identity and access management skills. Expertise in managing user identities and permissions through IAM is essential.

A cloud security engineer should also possess the right soft skills. These include strong communication and collaboration skills; attention to detail; proficiency in research and analysis; and adaptability to change.

Certifications for cloud security engineers

There are numerous certifications for cloud security professionals. Here are some of those most applicable to cloud security engineers:

Examples of cloud security engineer certifications

How much money do cloud security engineers make?

Salaries for cloud security engineers vary depending on experience, location and other factors.

According to Built In, the average salary for a cloud security engineer in the U.S. is $134,398. ZipRecruiter indicates the average U.S. cloud security engineer in 2024 earned $152,773 per year. Similarly, Glassdoor reports an average U.S. salary of $148,543. According to salary.com, the average U.S. salary for a cloud security engineer is $95,300.

Future of cloud security careers

The outlook for cloud security careers appears promising, with strong growth prospects, competitive salaries and a high demand for skilled professionals.

As cloud technology continues to evolve, cloud security professionals will need to stay on top of the latest advancements and threats. This includes understanding new cloud services, security tools, compliance requirements and data privacy regulations.

The rise of AI and automation in cloud security will also likely enhance the efficiency of security operations. However, this does not diminish the need for skilled professionals; rather, it emphasizes the importance of human expertise in managing complex security challenges.

Sean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He has pulled Token Ring, configured NetWare and been known to compile his own Linux kernel. He consults with industry and media organizations on technology issues.

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