Cloud Engineer vs Software Engineer: What Sets a Cloud System Engineer Apart

Cloud Engineer vs Software Engineer: What Sets a Cloud System Engineer Apart

Cloud engineers and software engineers are often thought to have similar job responsibilities, but they actually have distinct roles in the world of technology.

While both work with software applications, cloud engineers specialize in the infrastructure and support of cloud computing systems, while software engineers focus on the development of software solutions.

Differences Between Cloud and Software Engineers

The main difference between cloud engineers and software engineers lies in their focus and skillset. Cloud engineers prioritize the management and support of cloud-based systems and infrastructure. They ensure the availability, reliability, and security of cloud services.

Software engineers, on the other hand, concentrate on software development, creating applications and solutions that run on various operating systems and meet specific user requirements.

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Cloud engineers versus software engineers

What Is A Cloud Engineer?

A cloud engineer is a professional who specializes in designing, building, and maintaining cloud-based infrastructure and services. They have expertise in various cloud platforms and technologies, such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

Cloud engineers play a crucial role in modern IT environments, enabling businesses to leverage the power of the cloud for scalable and cost-effective solutions. They help organizations migrate their infrastructure to the cloud and ensure the smooth operation and ongoing support of cloud-based systems.

Cloud engineers are similar or sometimes, interchangeable, to the following roles: DevOps Engineers, Cloud Architects, Systems Administrators, Network Engineers, Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), Cloud Security Engineers, DevSecOps, Cloud Solutions Architects, Cloud Operations Engineers, and Data Engineers.

What Does A Cloud Engineer Do?

A cloud engineer is responsible for designing, implementing, and managing cloud-based solutions. They ensure the availability, performance, and security of cloud infrastructure and services.

Cloud engineers work closely with software developers, network engineers, and system administrators to create efficient and scalable cloud-based architectures. They are also responsible for monitoring and troubleshooting cloud systems, optimizing resource utilization, and implementing best practices for cloud infrastructure management.

Read More: The Top DevOps and Cloud Conferences to Attend in 2024

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Are you on the cloud yet?

What is Cloud Computing?

At its core, cloud computing refers to the delivery of various services, such as storage, computing power, databases, networking, and software, over the internet, often through a network of remote servers.

This approach allows users to access and leverage these resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, eliminating the need for extensive on-premises hardware and infrastructure.

Cloud computing is characterized by its scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, making it a driving force behind the digital transformation of businesses and the delivery of innovative services.

Cloud engineers play a pivotal role in the world of cloud computing by ensuring the seamless operation and optimization of cloud-based systems. They are instrumental in bringing the concept of cloud computing to life.

Cloud engineers come into play by designing, building, and maintaining the cloud infrastructure and services that organizations rely on, as well as sometimes even maximizing cloud financial management.

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Job responsibilities vary between cloud engineers and software engineers

Cloud Engineers vs Software Engineers – Job Responsibilities

Cloud engineers are primarily responsible for designing, implementing, and managing cloud infrastructure and services to support an organization's IT operations. 

Their primary focus is on leveraging cloud computing platforms and technologies to optimize performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency. They ensure the reliability and efficiency of cloud services, working closely with cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

On the other hand, software engineers are involved in the entire software development lifecycle,  with responsibilities related to everything from designing and coding to testing and debugging. They create software solutions that meet specific user needs and enhance system performance.

Read More: Platform Engineering vs DevOps

Software Engineer vs Cloud Engineer: Salary Difference

In 2023 and beyond, both software engineers and cloud engineers find themselves in incredibly high demand in the technology industry. With the digital transformation of businesses and the growing reliance on cloud-based services, these professionals play a vital role in the development and maintenance of modern software systems.

The salaries for both roles are quite similar, and they depend on factors such as experience, certifications, technical skills, and proficiency in programming languages.

According to ZipRecruiter, the US national average salary for Cloud Engineers is approximately $130,000 mirroring the average for Software Engineers in 2023.

However, it's noteworthy that entry-level positions in the field of cloud engineering tend to offer a higher average salary at around $109,500, as compared to entry-level software engineering positions, which average around $91,966.

The broad pay range for entry-level positions in both fields, differing by as much as $48,500, implies that there are ample opportunities for career advancement and increased compensation, influenced by factors such as expertise, geographic location, and years of experience. 

Read More: The Best DevOps and Cloud Bootcamps of 2024

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Salaries can vary greatly depending on location, skills, and more

Why are Cloud Engineers Paid So Much?

The demand for cloud engineers is high due to the increasing adoption of cloud computing by businesses. Cloud engineers possess specialized skills and knowledge in cloud technologies, making them valuable assets in the tech industry.

Their ability to design, build, and manage cloud systems that optimize productivity and efficiency contributes to their higher salary levels.

Keep in mind that expenses for hiring a cloud engineer go beyond just salary, but can include other hidden costs of your hiring pipeline, such as technical interviews, hiring mistakes, and more.

What Skills Does a Cloud Engineer Need?

A cloud engineer must possess a solid understanding of cloud technologies and platforms such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. They should have expertise in networking, virtualization, and storage technologies.

 Additionally, strong programming skills in languages like Python, Java, or C# are necessary for scripting and automation purposes. Communication skills are also vital as cloud engineers often collaborate with teams and need to effectively convey complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders.

Is Coding Required for Cloud Engineers?

Yes, coding is an essential skill for cloud engineers. While they may not write large software applications like software engineers do, cloud engineers still require programming skills for scripting, automation, and infrastructure as code tasks. They often use programming languages to automate processes and manage cloud resources efficiently.

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Consider coding languages like Python, Java, C#, Golang, and Powershell

Which Coding Languages Do Cloud Engineers Use?

Cloud engineers commonly use programming languages such as Python, Java, C#, Golang, and PowerShell. These languages offer flexibility, extensive libraries, and frameworks that enable cloud engineers to build and automate cloud infrastructure effectively. Additionally, proficiency in infrastructure as code tools like Terraform or Ansible can be beneficial in cloud engineering.

What Technical Skills Should Cloud Engineers Have?

Besides proficiency in cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as being well-versed in programming languages to automate tasks and manage cloud resources effectively, there are other expertise cloud engineers should have.

A solid grasp of networking principles, including VPC, VPN, and load balancing, is crucial for building efficient and secure cloud architectures. Expertise in virtualization, storage solutions, and serverless computing is essential for resource optimization and scalability. 

 Additionally, knowledge of containerization technologies like Docker and orchestration tools such as Kubernetes has become increasingly important in a landscape where microservices and containerization are prevalent.

How to Evaluate DevOps or Cloud Engineers

When evaluating DevOps or cloud engineers for your team, it's important to go beyond traditional interview questions.

While scenario-based queries, technical problem-solving exercises, and inquiries about real-life experiences are valuable, modern tools like Cloud Assessments have proven to be more effective in assessing a candidate's performance on the job.

Read More: Choosing the Best DevOps Engineer Assessment

Brokee's DevOps assessments provide a real-world simulation of the tasks and challenges a DevOps engineer will face in their role. They offer a more comprehensive and practical way to gauge a candidate's proficiency in using tools, implementing best practices, and collaborating effectively within a DevOps or Cloud team.

By incorporating such assessments into your evaluation process, you can make more informed decisions about the suitability of candidates for the demands of cloud engineering roles.

Can a Software Engineer Work as a Cloud Engineer?

Yes, a software engineer can transition into a cloud engineering role with the right skills and training. Software engineers already possess the foundational knowledge of systems and programming, which is valuable in cloud engineering.

By acquiring additional skills in cloud technologies, networking, and virtualization, a software engineer can successfully transition to a cloud engineer role and take advantage of the growing demand for cloud expertise.

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Choose the right type of engineer for your business needs

Which Engineer is the Right One to Hire?

Selecting the right engineer for your project or business is a crucial decision that hinges on the specific needs and objectives of your endeavor. When making this choice, it's essential to consider the nature of the project.

If you require infrastructure management, cloud deployment, and system optimization, a cloud engineer may be the ideal choice, bringing expertise in cloud platforms and technologies.

Read More: 7 Signs You Should Hire a DevOps Engineer

On the other hand, if your project centers around software development, application creation, and coding, a software engineer is likely the best fit, equipped with the skills needed for software design and implementation.

By understanding your project's unique requirements and the core competencies of each engineering role, you can make an informed decision to ensure the success and efficiency of your business or project.

We recommend using skill assessment software to qualify candidates, ensuring you choose the best talent for the job.

Read More: What's the Right Ratio of DevOps to Developers?

Final Word: Software Engineers and Cloud Engineers

Both roles are in high demand in the technology industry, with similar salary averages in 2023. The transition from software engineering to cloud engineering is feasible with the right skill set.

Ultimately, the synergy between software engineers and cloud engineers enables the creation of efficient and scalable cloud-based solutions, facilitating the digital transformation of businesses in the modern technological landscape.


Q: What education and certification are needed to become a Cloud Engineer?

A: While a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science or a related field is beneficial, it is not always required to become a Cloud Engineer. However, obtaining relevant certifications, such as those from AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, can greatly enhance your chances of getting a job in this field.

Q: What is the career path for a Cloud Engineer?

A: The career path for a Cloud Engineer typically starts with an entry-level position, such as an intern or junior Cloud Engineer. With experience and expertise, one can progress to roles like Cloud Architect, Cloud Consultant, or even Cloud Engineer Manager.

Q: What are the responsibilities of a Cloud Engineer?

A: The responsibilities of a Cloud Engineer include designing and implementing cloud architecture, managing cloud infrastructure, ensuring security and compliance, troubleshooting issues, and optimizing performance of cloud systems.

Q: How long does it take to become a Cloud Engineer?

A: The time it takes to become a Cloud Engineer can vary depending on various factors, including your prior knowledge and experience in IT or software development. However, on average, it can take several years of dedicated learning and hands-on experience to become a proficient Cloud Engineer.

Q: How much do Software Engineers and Cloud Engineers earn?

A: The salary of Software Engineers and Cloud Engineers can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and industry. However, both roles generally offer competitive salaries, and with experience and expertise, the earning potential can increase significantly.