How to Become a DevOps Engineer: Career Path, Skills, & Jobs

DevOps engineers combine development and operations processes to implement code. Learn how to prepare for lucrative DevOps engineer jobs here.

portrait of Alison Plaut
by Alison Plaut

Updated November 4, 2022

Edited by Cameren Boatner
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How to Become a DevOps Engineer: Career Path, Skills, & Jobs
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DevOps engineers solve development and operations teams' inefficiencies in any company or organization. Their job is to combine the two processes to implement new code.

If you love coding and solving development problems, read on to learn how to become a DevOps engineer.

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Ready to start your journey?

What Is a DevOps Engineer?

A DevOps engineer works to simplify the software development process. They bring together the requirements of development teams and IT operations teams to deploy code and manage applications.

Before DevOps became common among software teams, developers would write code and pass it to the operations team to deploy to a server. Without the teams consulting one another, you can imagine the process was messy. You can bridge that gap by becoming a DevOps engineer.

What Are Key DevOps Engineer Requirements and Skills?

DevOps engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field. DevOps engineers also usually earn one or more certifications, such as Amazon Web Services Certified DevOps Engineer or Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert.

DevOps engineers benefit from skills like:

  • Coding and scripting
  • Security skills
  • Testing skills
  • Automation skills
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Proactivity
  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving skills
  • And other soft skills to interact with diverse groups

DevOps Engineer vs. Site Reliability Engineer

While both DevOps engineers and site reliability engineers work on problem-solving, their focus is different. Site reliability engineers (SREs) focus on operational problems like:

In contrast, DevOps engineers focus on development problems that cater to business requirements.

DevOps focuses more on writing and deploying code, while SREs focus on the end user's perspective, including scaling.

How to Become a DevOps Engineer

Becoming a DevOps engineer requires a passion for writing code and solving development problems, a bachelor's degree, and some hands-on experience.

Step 1: Learn Programming

Becoming a DevOps engineer requires proficiency in coding. There are both free and paid online coding courses and coding bootcamps where you can learn the basics of programming. You'll want to start by learning common coding languages like:

Programming often includes a more complex understanding of data structures, which you can learn and practice through data analytics courses. Important programming topics to master include:

Step 2: Understand Operating Systems

You also need to become familiar with the common operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Understanding operating systems includes both hardware and common functions such as:

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers often look more at a DevOps engineer's skills than their education. However, most employers still value a degree — it shows you earned a well-rounded education. Valuable bachelor's degrees for DevOps engineers include:

Step 4: Get Certified

DevOps engineers will also want to earn one or more certifications to demonstrate their skills to potential employers. There is not one universal DevOps certification. Popular certifications include:

Free DevOps certificate courses include:

Step 5: Get Hands-On Experience in DevOps Engineering

To become a DevOps engineer, you'll need some experience under your belt. One way to do this is to start working with developers to see what they're doing. Understanding existing processes can prepare you for DevOps roles.

You can also start writing code to automate existing processes if you're currently in a tech position. Alternatively, getting an internship in DevOps, operations, or development can help you gain real-world experience.

Other tips to get internships and other practical experience:

Step 6: Start Applying for DevOps Engineer Jobs

After earning a degree, certifications, and gaining experience, most professionals are likely qualified for DevOps engineering jobs. Now it's time to showcase expertise. You'll need a solid portfolio that demonstrates your technical skills, certificates, and degrees when applying for DevOps engineering jobs.

If you already work in tech, ask management about transitioning into a DevOps position. Early experience and networking connections can help to find DevOps engineer jobs.

How to Find DevOps Engineer Jobs

DevOps jobs are listed on many professional sites, including LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter. In addition to job listings, you can contact tech companies about DevOps openings or reach out to your network for opportunities.

Demonstrating DevOps skills in other positions can sometimes help you secure an engineering job. Some professionals work their way into DevOps from either development or operations teams. One career path people take is getting jobs related to DevOps engineering and working their way laterally to becoming a DevOps engineer.

What's the Average DevOps Engineer Salary?

According to Payscale, the average salary for DevOps engineers is $99,530 as of October 2022. Professionals with five to nine years of experience earn an average of $110,000. Those with 10-19 years of experience earn an average of $125,000. Senior DevOps engineers make an average salary of $120,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California, Texas, and Washington have the highest median salary for software developers, a career that includes DevOps engineer jobs.

Many companies require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field for DevOps engineer positions. Some employers prefer professionals with a master's degree, additional certifications, or more than five years of work experience in development.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a DevOps Engineer

What qualifications do you need to be a DevOps engineer?

DevOps engineers usually need a bachelor's degree, certifications, and hands-on experience. While employers usually look at your skills over your education for technical roles like this, they still value applicants with degrees.

That said, if you have a great resume and portfolio showing years of experience, you can probably get by with fewer years in school.

How long does it take to become a DevOps engineer?

You'll probably need around five years of experience in a development or operations role to become a DevOps engineer. If you work in DevOps while earning a bachelor's or master's degree, you can significantly cut down the time it takes to earn that experience.

Is DevOps engineering difficult to learn?

Learning a new coding language is difficult if you don't have the right motivation. That's without learning the development and operations processes necessary to become a DevOps engineer.

There are tons of online courses, certifications, and degree programs to help you get on the right track to becoming a DevOps engineer.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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