Cloud careers for students. What’s your 5-year plan?


It’s fall. A time when high school students and ambitious undergrads are looking ahead and feverishly completed their college and post-graduate applications. The stress and anxiety of selecting a program of study (and ultimately a career path) is trumped only by the possibility of rejection. Any middle aged person looking back to these days is no doubt aware of the ridiculousness of making these decisions at a young age, and business analysts scratch their heads wondering how young people will train for jobs in the cloud  that do not yet exist.

Students may not know where they’ll be in five years but with the cloud computing industry expected to install 1.8 million servers and earn $9.4B in global revenue by 2015 (International Data Corporation, IDC), it’s safe to say many will be working in mobile technology. It’s official, cloud computing super nerds are in high demand and commanding high salaries and here’s what students need to know to be at the top of the pack and the pay grade.

It’s all about supply and demand

Over the next two years, companies large and small are, and will be seeking to fill a staggering 14 million jobs worldwide in the private and public sectors (IDC). Experts with skills in cloud architecture development, deployment, and maintenance will be sought en-masse to help these organizations build their business and keep pace with evolving technology.

According to Wanted Analytics, the United States posted 5,000 cloud computing job adds in February 2012. Not bad, but get this; hiring demand is up 92% from February 2011 which is nothing compared to the 400% increase in hiring demand captured in 2010.

All this job growth and spending is great news for IT professionals, students and economies but there remains one problem. There aren’t enough people to do the work.

We’ve outsmarted ourselves

A report on growth and development in mobile and cloud industries from UK Commission for Employment and Skills highlights the lack of engagement and training available to IT professionals and students, as well as the failure of industry and government to attract new talent to the sector.  According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, “If the digital sector is able to exploit the potential of new technologies, it will need to adapt to the pace of change by building up the capabilities of its workforce and finding new ways to bring new people into the sector.” In other words, companies willing to invest in strong mentorship and retention programs have a serious leg up on the competition.

Build on a strong cloud computing foundation

Students and IT pros can take advantage of cloud certification programs from big providers like Microsoft or IBM. Independent organizations like Learning Tree (they have excellent snacks) also offer accreditation. That said, much of the training and learning going on today is being done on the job and through in-house mentorship, but more often than not, people are still learning on their own.

Although a strong IT knowledge base is essential to becoming a cloud computing expert, other fields are beginning to require some savvy as well. Software and System Engineers and Network Administrators are being joined in the cloud by Sales Managers, Analysts and Marketing specialists. And with 14 million jobs to fill, we’re going to need all the help we can get.