If your next goal is to level up your skill at work and you have chosen public cloud as your preferred area of focus, then you have three options- a) take a course on cloud, b) get hands-on with it at work or c) experiment with different public cloud services. You can either choose one or a combination of the above to gain experience in public cloud. Either way, you will have gained both real-world knowledge and expertise on the subject that are applicable at work.
If you choose to study for a certification, then you are in luck for there is a ton of courses offered online as well as on-campus on cloud nowadays. These courses offer a basic idea about public cloud which helps to develop a general understanding of it. If you want to stop one step short of certification, then study the certification materials available online. If you want to go all in, then get involved in the cloud stuff at work and learn on the job. Alternately, you can take a tour of public cloud by taking advantage of the cloud playground that certain providers offer free access to.
Daniel Dib writes about how to get experience with public cloud with all the said options. In his blog Getting Experience with Public Cloud, he writes:
“Public cloud is a little like walking into a gigantic supermarket. You are looking for something very specific, maybe just a carton of milk, but if you have never been to this supermarket it could take you hours to find the milk. Maybe the milk is named something else in this store. To understand a specific cloud such as AWS, Azure, or GCP, you must first build up a basic understanding of what services they offer and how to use them.”