How to Become a Cloud Security Engineer in 2024
Cloud computing has revolutionized businesses and organizations of all sizes by enabling on-demand access to computing resources, storage, application security, and services over the internet. However, securing data and workloads in the cloud also introduces new risks and attack vectors that must be addressed.
This growing need for expertise in cloud security has created immense demand for cloud security engineers. So what exactly does a cloud security engineer do, and how can you break into this exciting and lucrative field in 2024?
What is a Cloud Security Engineer?
A cloud security engineer is responsible for safeguarding infrastructure, platforms, data, and applications hosted in public, private or hybrid cloud environments.
Cloud security engineers architect and implement security solutions to monitor and protect cloud workloads against threats. They proactively identify vulnerabilities and recommend fixes to strengthen defenses.
When security incidents occur, cloud security engineers thoroughly investigate, contain the attack, and initiate remediation steps. They also define security requirements and compliance controls aligned to organizational policies and industry regulations.
In essence, these IT security specialists fill the crucial role of security architect, auditor, operations manager and incident responder for the cloud.
Why Become a Cloud Security Engineer?
Here are some of the key drivers behind the soaring demand for cloud security engineers:
- Critical Role: They are essentially cybersecurity defenders for the cloud, which today powers a majority of businesses. Their expertise is mission-critical.
- Growth Potential: As per Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be over 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally in 2025. A fifth of these roles could be for cloud security experts.
- High Salaries: Average salaries for cloud security engineers range from $91,000 to $115,000 per year. Specialists with over 7-10 years of experience can earn as high as $200,000 annually.
- Rewarding Work: Cloud security engineers enjoy exciting and meaningful work safeguarding critical systems and data from adversaries. They also get opportunities to continuously learn and innovate.
- Career Options: Starting as an cloud security engineer can open doors to other coveted roles like Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
Simply put, choosing a career as an cloud security engineer in 2024 provides you a chance to do fulfilling work in a domain with incredible growth, strong financial upside and long-term viability.
Aspiring cloud security engineers typically pursue one of the following educational paths:
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or cybersecurity serves as the baseline qualification for most entry-level cloud security roles today.
Coursework areas like networking, systems administration, risk management, identity access management (IAM), cryptography and compliance provide a well-rounded foundation.
Hands-on exposure to programming and scripting languages is also valuable. Python in particular is ubiquitously used for cloud automation and orchestration tasks.
Although not strictly necessary, an advanced degree such as a Master’s in Computer Science gives you an edge especially when competing for senior cloud security engineering positions.
A graduate degree allows you to specialize through electives focused explicitly on topics like cloud infrastructure security, DevSecOps, containerization platforms, and other adjacent domains.
The research and technical skills you build also help in investigating incidents, assessing the risk landscape and keeping updated with the state-of-the-art.
Develop Technical and Business Skills
Beyond formal education, intentionally develop skills in domains like:
- Cloud platforms: Attain expert-level fluency in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or other major providers.
- Infrastructure-as-Code: Learn Terraform, Ansible, Chef or Puppet.
- Containerization: Understand Docker, Kubernetes and container security concepts.
- Compliance frameworks: Know essential regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR and ISO 27001.
- Scripting: Master Python, PowerShell, Bash and other languages to automate security controls and processes.
- Monitoring and analytics: Become adept at using cloud access security brokers (CASB), cloud workload protection platforms (CWPP) and leading tools.
- Business and communication skills: Build capabilities to effectively collaborate across teams, translate technical details to business needs and clearly communicate risk. This ability to bridge the gap between security and business is invaluable.
Gain Relevant Experience
With a degree in hand, the next imperative step is gaining direct hands-on experience. Aim to get broad exposure to the security domain for 2-3 years before specializing explicitly in cloud security.
Here are typical roles through which cloud security engineers evolve:
Entry-Level Security Roles
Starting out as a security analyst, IT auditor or identity and access management (IAM) specialist allows you to familiarize yourself with foundational concepts.
You get opportunities to use security tools, work on projects and collaborate with experts building your knowledge, skills and network.
The next natural transition is into an intermediate security administrator or SOC analyst position.
Here you apply your learning working directly with prevention, detection and response security tools on a daily basis. These 2-3 years build proficiency in investigating threats, assessing risk and hardening defenses.
Modern cloud environments extensively leverage infrastructure-as-code (IaC) techniques for provisioning and managing resources.
As a DevSecOps engineer, you insert security into development pipelines ensuring security best practices are followed through the entire lifecycle.
This role provides great experience with public cloud platforms and demonstrates your ability to collaborate with cross-functional teams.
Mid-Level Cloud Security Engineer
After accumulating at least 3-5 years of experience spanning different facets of security, you become qualified for mid-level cloud security engineering roles.
As an established cloud security engineer, you will architect cloud-based solutions, apply deep knowledge of cloud security services and stay on top of emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
From here, with 7+ years of experience you can explore specialized security engineering roles in threat intelligence, forensics or security operations centers focusing explicitly on cloud environments.
Senior cloud security engineers also have exciting leadership opportunities to progress into roles like Principal/Lead Engineer, Chief Cloud Security Officer or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
Pursue Industry Certifications
Relevant cybersecurity and cloud certifications serve as stamps of approval showcasing your expertise to recruiters and hiring managers.
They validate your knowledge by requiring you to pass proctored exams testing your competence in key domains.
Here are some of the most valued credentials aligned specifically to a career in cloud security:
The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) credential offered by (ISC)2 verifies your proficiency across six domains spanning cloud governance, compliance, cloud architecture, operations and incident response.
It covers multi-cloud concepts applicable across AWS, Azure and GCP making it one of the most versatile cloud security certifications.
Cloud Platform Specific
Each major provider also offers role-based and specialty certifications evaluating your skills in securing workloads and data managed by their specific cloud:
- AWS Certified Security – Specialty: Demonstrates ability to secure AWS workloads
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate: Validates Azure security skills
- Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer: Proves GCP security administration competence
Other great supplemental options aligned to technologies commonly used in cloud environments include:
- Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- ISACA Certifications (CISA, CRISC, CISM)
The most effective strategy is attaining platform-specific cloud security certification along with vendor-neutral credentials like CCSP or CISSP.
Start Your Cloud Security Engineer Journey with Jessup University
The Computer Science program at Jessup University offers specialized coursework covering the most essential aspects of the cloud ecosystem that companies urgently demand – from core infrastructure knowledge to cutting edge development paradigms.
Educational Pathways for Cloud Engineering Prospects
Considering a career as a cloud security engineer? Jessup University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science presents an in-depth program that fuses theoretical foundations with practical application. With options for both in-person and online learning, our approach is adaptable to various educational preferences, allowing students to excel in their chosen format.
In-person attendees will benefit from 15-week courses, immersive community involvement, and comprehensive resource access. Those opting for the online route can take advantage of shorter, 7-week courses, flexible scheduling, and six annual start dates. This program offers specializations in Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Data Science, Information Technology, and Software Engineering, providing a customized educational journey whether you’re on campus or studying from afar.
Jessup University’s Program Focus Areas and Principal Courses:
Cybersecurity (Online Only):
- Introduction to Cybersecurity
- Cybercrime and Governance
- Contemporary Cybersecurity
- Network and System Security
- Cyber Forensics
Data Analytics (Online Only):
- Foundations of Data Analytics I & II
- Data Analytics Principles & Techniques I & II
- Data Analytics Practicum
What is Data Science:
- Data Science 1 & 2
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
- Calculus II, Linear Algebra, Intro to Mathematical Proofs
Software Engineering Concentration:
- Mobile Computing
- Web Stack Technologies
- Data Structures & Algorithms 2
- Database Systems
Crucial Skills for Success in Computer Science
What is computer science? It’s the field of study that focuses on computation, information, and automation using computers and computational systems. It’s the backbone and foundation behind software engineering, and can lead you many directions within the tech space.
Prospering in the ever-changing field of computer science is tied to a robust skill set. Jessup University’s program stresses expertise in advanced programming languages, proficiency in modern software development methodologies, and effective technical communication – to bring you the cloud computing or edge computing skills necessary to conquer this world.
The curriculum deepens understanding of computational challenges, their requirements, and constraints. Additionally, it embeds a Christian ethical outlook towards technology, preparing graduates to be proficient and morally responsible in their field.
Whether participating in on-campus activities or via online modules, students are groomed to deploy their skills in various professional settings, armed with our Computer Science degree.
Your Exciting Career Ahead
You now have a comprehensive roadmap covering all key steps – ranging from foundational training, gaining well-rounded experience, attaining credentials, building professional collateral and tapping opportunities – equipping you to launch a successful career as an cloud security engineer in 2024.
The information security domain as whole faces an enormous skills shortage. An estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity positions will be unfilled by 2025 according to Cybersecurity Ventures.
And given exponential growth in cloud adoption showing no signs of slowing down, talented cloud security engineers will be in tremendous demand for years to come.
Organizations are aggressively competing for professionals who can effectively secure critical data and workloads migrated to the cloud. Those who invest effort developing expertise and building strong professional profiles will find rewarding, lucrative careers securing the cloud platforms powering a majority of innovation and progress worldwide.
If this is you, reach out to Jessup University today, we’d love to go over your options!