How to Become a DevOps Engineer: Career Path, Skills, & Jobs
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- DevOps engineers remove the silo between development and operations teams.
- DevOps engineering jobs are in high demand, with an average salary of over $99,000.
- DevOps engineers need coding, leadership, and communication skills.
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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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
Communication and collaboration
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:
- Product failures
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:
- Data structure
- Databases and SQL
- Object-oriented programming languages (OOP)
- Integrated development environments (IDEs)
- Web development
- Cloud computing
- Text editors
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:
- Main memory management
- Secondary storage management
- Security management
- Processing management
- File management
- Network management
- Command interpreter system
- I/O device management
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:
- Computer science
- Software design
- Software engineering
- Information technology
- Computer programming
- Other related fields
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:
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional
- Puppet Certified Professional
- Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
- Docker Certified Associate (DCA)
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)
- Architecting with Google Cloud Platform
Free DevOps certificate courses include:
- Free DevOps Course from LinkedIn
- Free DevOps Training Course by Microsoft
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:
- Create a GitHub account: You can put all your coding projects in your GitHub and put the link on your resume.
- Networking: Connecting with other DevOps professionals is one of the best ways to gain experience and find DevOps opportunities.
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.
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.