As cloud computing increasingly plays a significant role in our lives, the demand for security researchers has skyrocketed in recent years. Job growth for cloud security experts is high, and the typical salary range for this career path is in the six figures.
In practice, cloud security engineers are responsible for continuously strengthening the attack surface. They develop and propose new features to establish control over data and resources, prevent malicious attacks by external hackers or insider threats, and continuously improve cloud-based systems to protect workloads from accidental or malicious disruption.
The job responsibilities for cloud security engineers can vary from company to company. Regardless of your company or job title, you will work with responsible stakeholders, such as cloud solutions architects, developers, and other engineers, to deliver cloud security solutions. You will play a significant role in implementing security measures to protect cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data.
While it is evident that cloud security professionals are in high demand, the path to becoming a cloud security engineer is not as straightforward. There are numerous ways to receive a cloud security education and even become certified, but how do you know which one is practically right for you?
If you are ready to pursue this career, read on to learn more about the essential cloud security certifications you need to hit the ground running.
5 Responsible Cloud Security Certification programs
There are a myriad of career opportunities for those who master the cloud security skills. Let’s inspect the certifications that are profitable for a career in cloud security engineering. These programs are developed to help you skill up to get your foot in the door.
Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)
The CKS program comes under the responsibility of two distinguished non-profit organizations in the Cloud Computing ecosystem, CNCF and The Linux Foundation. It is a much sought after certification in the cloud security as Kubernetes has become an essential tool for software engineering teams for automating software deployment and running containerized applications with scalability and portability.
The Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) program helps organizations identify and develop open source talent with critical skills, knowledge, and competence on a broad range of security practices for securing container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime.
Learn the best security practices for Kubernetes platforms during build and deployment, including monitoring, logging, and runtime security. We strongly recommend understanding how containers work at a low-level, which will be mind stretching and of much value to bootstrap your security knowledge.
Here are a few practice resources to cement your knowledge in each of the general domains and competencies of the CKS exam.
- Kubernetes Security Essentials — The Linux Foundation
- Kubernetes Security Specialist video course — Whizlabs
- CKS hands-on training — KodeKloud
- Securing Cloud Applications with examples using Spring and Kubernetes
- Kubernetes Security and Observability: A Holistic Approach to Securing Containers and Cloud Native Applications
Is it right for you?
CKS program is intended for individuals who perform a security role and have at least taken and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam prior to attempting the CKS certification exam. CKA is concerned with day-to-day challenges of operation teams, and both certification programs are suitable for anyone with the fundamental knowledge of Kubernetes.
Kubernetes Security Specialist — The Linux Foundation (CNCF)
Azure Security Engineer Associate
Microsoft Azure Security Engineer Associate — certification allows you to validate and demonstrate your cloud security expertise for managing the security posture, data protection, incident response, planning and implementing cloud-based management and security for all the critical assets on the Azure platform.
The Azure platform offers a variety of services, such as compute, containers, analytics, IoT, security, and machine learning. Obtaining, therefore, Azure Security Certification means you have the functional knowledge of the numerous security services along with the unique security features that are available within other Azure services — showing potential employers you are capable of working on cloud security projects.
The certification exam is designed to measure your security skills and functional knowledge. We strongly recommend learning infrastructure as code, security operations processes, cloud capabilities, and Azure services. Also, gain hand-on experience in administration of Azure and hybrid environments to understand how things work in the backend.
Here are a few best resources available to help you prepare for the AZ-500 exam.
- Exam AZ-500: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies — Whizlabs
- Microsoft Azure Security Technologies (AZ-500) Learning Path — Pluralsight
- Azure Infrastructure as Code
- Microsoft Azure in Action
- Exam Ref AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies, 2/e
- Microsoft Azure Security Technologies Certification and Beyond: Gain practical skills to secure your Azure environment and pass the AZ-500 exam
Is it right for you?
Azure security certification is a valuable credential for anyone looking to work in the cloud security field. The certification validates security expertise and understanding of the Azure platform and how to protect it. It is suitable for anyone with programming skills and basic knowledge of cloud computing.
Azure Security Engineer Associate AZ-500 — Microsoft Azure
CompTIA Security+ is a vendor-neutral certification program that validates the essential security skills necessary to perform core security functions for pursuing a security career. This program designates professionals who are skilled in risk assessment and management, incident response, forensics, enterprise networks, hybrid/cloud operations, and security controls.
Organizations that placed their efforts in developing CompTIA Security+ include Netflix, Splunk, Target Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, etc. This CompTIA certification demonstrates a person's security knowledge and technical expertise required for entry-level security jobs. It also incorporates best practices in hands-on troubleshooting, ensuring candidates have practical security problem-solving skills for the job roles.
The program leans towards self-study and is suitable for independent individuals who enjoy working through the material at their own pace. The exam focuses on the practical and hands-on-capability of a practitioner in the identification and resolution of various security threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities.
- The Complete 2023 CompTIA Certification Course Bundle – stacksocial
- CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam prep — Whizlabs
- CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601) Learning path — Pluralsight
- CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead
- CompTIA Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide, Sixth Edition
Is it right for you?
Obtaining CompTIA Security+ certification means you'll gain a strong foothold in the information security by knowing all the latest advancements in the tech. This certification program validates your functional knowledge in multiple security roles and equips you for cloud security jobs.
CompTIA Security+ — CompTIA Inc
Professional Cloud Security Engineer - Google Cloud
The Professional Cloud Security Engineer badge will elevate your cloud security game. It is a vendor-specific certification program that validates security skills and a thorough understanding of cloud architecture to design and implement secure workloads and infrastructure on Google Cloud.
Google Certified — Professional Cloud Security Engineer program enables experienced security professionals to demonstrate their proficiency in all aspects of cloud security using progressive Google technologies to implement data protection, configure network security, manage operations, ensure compliance, and demonstrate a functional knowledge of the application of dynamic regulatory considerations.
With a holistic understanding of best security practices, you’ll learn to design, develop, and manage a secure infrastructure. To pass the certification exam, practice, practice, and when you are done practicing, take a few practice exams until you become positively ready for the official exam. Tighten your grip on the important topics, such as configuring and managing access, defining organizational structures and policies, configuring network security, and VPC networks.
Here are a few resources to pass the certification exam.
- Professional Cloud Security Engineer Training course — Whizlabs
- Google Cloud Professional Security Engineer Learning path — Pluralsight
- Professional Cloud Security Engineer - 110 Practice Questions with Answers and Explanations (Kindle Edition)
Is it right for you?
With the Google Cloud — Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification, you can enter both the cloud computing and information security domains simultaneously. This credential validates your security skills and technical expertise for exploring responsibilities, such as data protection, network security, analyses of GCP logs, incident responses, etc.
Google Certified — Professional Cloud Security Engineer — Google Cloud
AWS Certified Security Speciality
The AWS Security certification validates you can efficiently use AWS security services to stay secure in the AWS cloud. This program enables security professionals to advance their cloud knowledge to design and implement solutions to secure workloads and data on AWS.
AWS security engineers often serve as part of a larger team to plan and implement security solutions. It is suited to anyone who wants to validate their AWS knowledge across a range of security topics, including application security, risk assessment, infrastructure security, data protection mechanisms and encryption methods, identity and access management, identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, responding to security incident escalations, etc.
Candidates require an expert knowledge of security controls for workloads on AWS, and at least two years’ of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads. The certification exam is designed to examine your security skills and cloud knowledge through problem-based scenarios that focus on how to solve actual problems.
Here are a few instructional resources to help you pass the exam.
- AWS Certified Security Specialty — Whizlabs
- AWS Security Specialty Learning path — Pluralsight
- AWS Security: Audit and Intrusion Detection Automation
- AWS Security Controls
- AWS Security: Compliance and Observability
- AWS Security
- AWS Certified Security—Specialty Exam guide
Is it right for you?
If you currently have any Associate level certifications, and have an interest in cloud security, this certification path is very suitable for you. This is a specialty certification, and it demonstrates your exhaustive security knowledge — showing hiring managers you are capable of being lead engineer on complex AWS projects.
AWS Certified Security — Speciality ← AWS
FAQs — Plotting Your Cloud Security Certification
Are Cloud Security Certifications worth it?
The answer to this question will vary depending on your desired outcome. Yes, it's no surprise that cloud security experts such as those with CKS or AWS Security Specialty badges are in increasingly high demand. The right cloud security certification can give you a competitive edge — and each certification is demanding for its own reasons.
What’s the value of Cloud Security Certifications?
Whether you are an experienced researcher or a fresh college graduate, cloud security certification will add value to your resume. Cloud Security certifications don't guarantee you'll get a cloud security job but they're proof of your knowledge, expertise and specialty that you can pick up the real security scenarios better and faster compared to someone without certification.
What Cloud Security Certification is best?
Earning a cloud security certification can be exhaustive. The Cloud security certification or a respected specialty badge doesn't just look good on your portfolio—it will significantly boost the salary or rate you command.
How to Choose a Cloud Security Certification?
It is important to choose the right one for your professional goals. If you want to specialize in a specific cloud platform, the vendor-specific certifications like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud are suitable for you but if would you prefer to keep your options open, consider vendor-neutral certifications like CompTIA, CCSP, CCSK and GCSA.
There’s so many options, we’ve created a Cloud Computing Stack to help you discover free and helpful resources. The only mistake you can make is to make no choice at all!