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DevOps Engineer Career Guide

How to Become a DevOps Engineer

Before the days of DevOps, development and operations teams worked separately: the development team created products, and the operations team managed and maintained them. That all changed when the DevOps model was introduced in 2008. This model merges development and operations teams so that the entire software development lifestyle (SDLS) can be automated, and digital technologies can be delivered faster. 

DevOps engineers are the glue that hold this process in place. They work in between development and deployment, collaborating with software developers, quality assurance, and other IT staff to monitor a software solution, catch and fix bugs, and push an updated version back to the client.    

As more companies implement the DevOps model, the need for DevOps engineers is soaring. In fact, LinkedIn lists more than 53,000 open positions for this role. Not only are DevOps engineers in high demand, but they're paid well, too, with many earning six-figure salaries.  

If you want to be a part of this fast-growing, fast-paced career field, here’s what you need to know about what a DevOps engineer is and how to become one.

What Is a DevOps Engineer?

A DevOps engineer is an IT professional who works with both development and operations teams to implement software releases and deployments. Their job is to ensure applications run smoothly and securely so users are happy with the product and continue using it. 

Many DevOps engineers have experience in software development, software engineering, or IT operations, although good DevOps engineers can come from all kinds of IT backgrounds. 

male DevOps engineer

What Does a DevOps Engineer Do?

The goal of a DevOps engineer is to streamline the SDLS process through continuous evaluation, quality assurance, and collaboration. They help take a software solution from idea to completion by seeing the big picture and helping everyone involved in the project work together.  
DevOps engineers take on a variety of tasks every day. For example, a DevOps engineer job description might include: 

  • Monitoring the performance of software applications.
  • Improving the security of software for end users.
  • Deploying updates automatically using configuration management software.
  • Performing routine application maintenance and troubleshooting to ensure production runs smoothly.
  • Performing gap analysis to identify performance enhancements, identify alternative solutions, and assist with modifications.
  • Collaborating with other IT members to conceptualize, develop, and release software.
  • Conducting quality assurance to ensure that software meets guidelines.
  • Securing software to prevent breaches and other vulnerabilities.
  • Collecting and reviewing customers' feedback to enhance user experience.
  • Pitching ideas for projects based on gaps in the market and technological advancements.

How Do I Become a DevOps Engineer?

The road to becoming a DevOps engineer can look different for everyone, but the most common pathway to this career includes: 

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree 
The specialized knowledge and skills you need to work as a DevOps engineer are most often obtained by completing a degree program. A bachelor’s degree in computer science will teach you subjects such as programming languages, coding processes, software development, and IT operations, all of which are required for this role.  

Step Two: Consider a Master’s Degree 
Consider enhancing your skills and knowledge with a graduate degree. Getting your Master of Science in IT Management or a related advanced degree can help you impress potential employers and show that you’re serious about a career in DevOps.

Step Three: Build Experience 
Gaining industry experience in roles that expose you to scripting, programming, automation tools, and cloud technologies can help you build on your knowledge and stand out in the job market.

Step Four: Get Certified  
Earning DevOps certifications shows future employers that you’ve achieved an expert level of skill and knowledge.

There are several you can choose from, including: 

  • CompTIA
  • ITIL 
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
  • Google’s Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
  • Hashicorp Certified Terraform Associate DevOps

Best Degrees for a DevOps Engineer

Computer Science – B.S.

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task: ...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task:

Lay the groundwork for the computing breakthroughs that will enable tomorrow's technologies. 

  • Time: 70% of graduates in similar programs finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster.

You'll have the opportunity to earn these certifications:

  • CompTIA Project+
  • Axelos ITIL Foundation

Professionals who need the skills a computer science degree provides include computer systems analysts, computer programmers, artificial intelligence specialists, software engineers, machine learning engineers, and more.

Information Technology Management – M.S.

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:

  • Time: 89% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,235 per 6-month term.

Included in your program—at no extra cost—is the opportunity to earn the valuable PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.

Maximize the opportunities that your IT career path has afforded you—earn your master's and keep moving up. 


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What Skills Does a DevOps Engineer Need?

First and foremost, you'll need foundational knowledge in Linux or a related operating system. You'll also need to know how to create automation between DevOps stages and how to monitor, log, and alert teams once an application is released.

On top of that knowledge, the DevOps engineering role requires a unique set of skills and experience. Here are some things an employer might look for on a DevOps engineer résumé: 

  • Experience with programming languages such as Ruby, Python, and JavaScript.
  • Knowledge in the complete software development life cycle. 
  • Cloud computing skills. 
  • Experience building CI pipelines; both design and implementation.
  • Experience with automation and scripting.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills. 
  • Hands-on experience in deployment tools such as Puppet, Terraform, and Chef. 
  • Ability to work collaboratively with the development and operations teams, as well as other teams and departments involved in the project development life cycle. 

How Much Does a DevOps Engineer Make?

$121,000

Many DevOps engineer jobs come with high salaries. According to Salary.com, the average DevOps engineer income is $121,000 per year, but the range falls between $109,000 and $135,000. This range largely depends on whether you’re a junior DevOps engineer or a senior DevOps engineer. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

22%

Demand for DevOps engineers is here to stay. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t collect information on DevOps engineers yet, the job outlook is strong based on data of similar roles. For instance, the BLS estimates a 22% job growth for software developers from 2020 to 2030. This growth is much faster than average when compared to all occupations. 

Is a Cert Needed to Become a DevOps Engineer?

Yes

To excel in DevOps engineering, it’s crucial to maintain a modern and marketable skill set. Earning certifications can help you do that. As a DevOps engineer, you might need the following IT certifications: 

-CompTIA Certifications

-ITIL® Foundation Certification

Frequently Asked Questions

A DevOps engineer is an IT professional with an in-depth understanding of the software development life cycle. They work in between development and deployment, collaborating with software developers, quality assurance, and other IT staff to monitor a software solution, catch and fix bugs, and push an updated version back to the client.    

DevOps engineers take on a variety of tasks every day, but their main responsibility is to troubleshoot software and hardware so they work together successfully.  

Most DevOps engineer jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. To remain competitive, you should also consider a master’s degree and DevOps certifications.

Interested in Becoming a DevOps Engineer?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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