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Cloud career advice: Pick a specialty

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

In cloud technology, specialty segment skills and an understanding of specific enabling technology increases your chances to be paid top dollar for having those specific skills. Review them all, pick the ones that interest you most, and then look at the salary ranges.

January 31, 2019

A blog post by David Linthicum, managing director, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP

I love the questions I get when I speak at colleges and universities, questions such as: “What job can I get that makes the most money in cloud computing?” or, “What skills do I need to pay the bills?” Or my favorite: “How can I get paid the most and work the least?”

I’m not sure I would hire any of the students who ask questions that way, but I like where their heads are at. They are trying to find the sweet spot with today’s technology trends. Their end goal, I believe, is to make a good living using a skill set that will be in demand for the longest time.

Some suggestions:

You can’t understand everything about cloud-based technology, there is just too much of it, and you don’t have that much time in your day. Jacks of all cloud trades in the cloud industry are typically regarded as people who know very little about a lot of things.

A better approach is to find a specialty. You might think that means knowing a lot about a specific cloud service, such as ops monitoring for a major public cloud provider. You’d be wrong. It’s more about specializing in the basics of a cloud segment, such as security, governance, DevOps, performance, and also the technology that is specific to the technology segment.

For instance, security is one of the higher paying cloud skills. To compete or excel in the field, you need to know about most security models, such as centralized trust, identity, and access management, key management, encryption, etc., and then understand the technologies that make up each enabling technology, such as the cloud-native encryption of a major cloud provider.

You can think of this as a hierarchy. You pick cloud as the meta technology space as your focus, and then you pick security as the specialty segment of cloud technology. From there you need to find out as much as you can about the segments of the enabling technologies, both the technology you’re using now and technology you’ll use in the future.

The reason for this approach is that you may have to change technologies, and you need to know about the other likely solutions, how they work, and if they’ll even work for your specific security situation. However, you don’t need to understand much about the other segments, such as monitoring and operations, other than how they relate to your specialty segment, i.e., security.

Confused? Look at it this way. Say you plan to be a vehicle mechanic. You could choose to work on cars, trucks, buses, semis, etc. If you train to work on everything, you’ll probably struggle the simplest procedures for everything. However, if you specialized in automobiles, and then perhaps the types and brands under that such as work trucks and panel vans with a focus on specific brands, you’ll have a general as well as a specific skill. The more specific you are, the more likely you will know what you’re doing in most situations with more knowledge gained with each year of experience.

In cloud technology, specialty segment skills and an understanding of specific enabling technology increases your chances to be paid top dollar for having those specific skills. However, my suggestion is to always pursue what interests you most and you can naturally increase the odds that you will excel. You can find specialists in every field everywhere. Most supervisors and potential bosses can identify the ones who are there for the paycheck, and the ones who are there to make advances in their field…and for the paycheck. Fortunately, segment skills in cloud technology cover a wide range of possible specialties. Review them all, pick the ones that interest you most, and then look at the salary ranges.

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