At its core, a DevOps engineer seeks to streamline the life cycle of software, applications, and systems development through quality assurance, continuous evaluation, and collaborative practices. Using the services of a DevOps engineer, companies are more quickly able to introduce new applications and upgrades, release new features, improve user experiences, and integrate systems.
As one who plays an integral part in the development and operations of software and other IT systems (development and operations = DevOps), a DevOps engineer is typically schooled in various areas of IT. Preparation for this career usually means studying and likely obtaining at least a four-year degree in computer science, computer engineering, information technology, or a related field.
DevOps Engineer Degree
One of the most popular degrees obtained by aspiring DevOps engineers is the bachelor of science in computer engineering. Studies in this field tend to address concepts in designing, testing, and implementing various components of integrative computer hardware and software systems. You could expect to learn about operating systems design, computer programming, digital system design, electronic circuits, data structures, and computer networks in this program.
Introductory courses in software engineering and engineering design could also be taken. The curriculum of a BS in computer engineering program is also focused on math and science courses, including calculus, physics, discrete mathematics, and chemistry.
Other relevant degrees one might pursue to begin a career in DevOps engineering are bachelor of science in computer science, bachelor of science in software engineering, bachelor of science in software development, bachelor of science in information technology, or bachelor of science in electronics engineering technology. You might also pursue a bachelor’s degree program with a relevant area of emphasis. For example, you might study for a BS in information technology with an emphasis on software development.
Courses common to these types of programs that would help in the development of a DevOps engineering career include:
- Database Design
- Linear Circuits
- Data Programming
- IT Management
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Organization
- Application Development
- Information Systems Security
- Principles of Computer Systems
- Concepts of Programming Languages
With its managerial responsibilities, a position in DevOps engineering could, in some cases, require a master’s degree. At the least, some companies might require that one hold a master’s degree for advancement purposes. Examples of relevant graduate degrees are:
- Master of computer science
- Master of software development
- Master of science in computer science
- Master of science in computer engineering
- Master of science in software engineering
- Master of science in information technology
- Master of science in computer and information science
In these master’s degree programs, you could expect to take courses addressing cloud computing, database management, data analytics, software architecture, artificial intelligence, advanced programming concepts, and decision science. Many schools offer these degrees online, allowing for the flexibility sought by professionals who wish to maintain their current obligations while pursuing an advanced degree.
What is a DevOps Engineer?
With a focus on software and applications development processes, a DevOps engineer generally works with teams within IT operations in coding, systems development, software updates, and application maintenance. They might be involved in creating software prototypes, running tests on new and upgraded software, integrating systems, and ensuring data security.
DevOps engineers work closely with other IT professionals in this collaborative role, such as coders, software developers, programmers, and systems administrators. DevOps engineers draw on knowledge of project management practices, automated processes, reporting, security, and overall IT infrastructure in their daily tasks.
Over the years, the responsibilities of a DevOps Engineer have grown to encompass cloud architecture, various automation processes, artificial intelligence, micro-services, and machine learning as these new technologies are adopted and incorporated into many IT operations.
While DevOps engineers do not necessarily create code, they should understand coding, scripting, and programming languages. They must also be adept at using software development and testing tools, configuration management tools, applications software, storage devices, and information security systems.
With statistics showing a 24 percent increase in job demand for DevOps engineers over the next few years, opportunities should be plentiful in this field. Some noted skills that are expected to help candidates stand out in the coming years include Linux Scripting, cloud-based OpenShift and OpenStack, Gradle (an automation system), and the NoSQL database platform.
How to Become a DevOps Engineer
The knowledge of programming languages, coding processes, software development, and IT operations needed to work as a DevOps engineer is most often obtained by completing a four-year degree program. Once a bachelor’s degree has been earned in computer engineering, software engineering, information technology, or computer science, one can pursue employment as a DevOps engineer.
Online and in-person, full- or part-time tech bootcamps are effective ways to build the programming and software engineering skills required to work as a DevOps Engineer. In a relatively short period, usually between eight and 36 weeks, you can master skills in scripting, coding, back- and front-end software development, mobile app development, integration, configuration, and product management. Bootcamps can be run by technological companies, professional associations, software manufacturers, computer consulting firms, trade schools, or certification course providers.
Bootcamps, for which you can usually obtain scholarships and loans as you would any educational program, can be used to build initial skills for beginners or further develop abilities for current engineers. In some cases, you might be able to land a job as a DevOps Engineer after completing a bootcamp and demonstrating mastery of skills needed for the position. Still, you may be required to obtain a bachelor’s degree after securing employment.
Professional certifications allow you to demonstrate your expertise in and dedication to DevOps engineering. The DevOps Institute, a global association, founded in 2015, offers certifications that “enhance your professional credibility” and help you “stand out from other applicants.” The DevOps Leader (DOL)® certification validates your abilities in organizational leadership, change management, DevOps tools, innovation, IT agility, and applications architecture.
Certifications in individual systems or technologies also carry weight for DevOps Engineers. Some examples are:
- Docker Certified Associate
- Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)
- Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
- Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
DevOps Job Description
Once you feel confident that you’ve strengthened the skillset needed to pursue a career in DevOps engineering, you could search for employment as a DevOps Engineer, DevOps Support Engineer, Systems Engineer, or DevOps Architect.
Based on an actual posting, a job description for a DevOps Engineer might look like this:
- Bachelor’s (Preferred)
- Azure: 1 year (Preferred)
- AWS: 1 year (Preferred)
- Kubernetes: 1 year (Preferred)
Full Job Description
- Understanding customer requirements and project KPIs
- Implementing various development, testing, automation tools, and IT infrastructure
- Planning the team structure, activities, and involvement in project management activities.
- Managing stakeholders and external interfaces
- Setting up tools and required infrastructure
- Defining and setting development, test, release, update, and support processes for DevOps operation
- Have the technical skill to review, verify, and validate the software code developed in the project.
- Troubleshooting techniques and fixing the code bugs
- Monitoring the processes during the entire lifecycle for its adherence and updating or creating new processes for improvement and minimizing the wastage
- Encouraging and building automated processes wherever possible
- Bachelor’s (Preferred)
- You might begin as a Junior DevOps Engineer. As such, as shown in the job listing below, you would work in more of an “assisting” role:
- Assist in implementing, documenting, and maintaining a clouded infrastructure strategy with appropriate standards
- Assist in designing, implementing, documenting, monitoring, and maintaining a reliable, scalable infrastructure (including databases) with multiple, sometimes ad-hoc, production, development, testing, and staging environments
- Assist in designing, implementing, and maintaining an infrastructure that can be adapted to scale and change quickly
- Assist in designing, implementing, documenting, monitoring, maintaining, and testing infrastructure backup plans and systems
- Work with developers to help build and improve existing pipelines and infrastructure that promote automated, continuous integration and accelerates delivery of new products and services
- Assist in implementing, documenting, monitoring, maintaining, and testing a secure network infrastructure using reasonable best practices in the cloud and at our local place of business
- Assist in procuring, setting up, and maintaining employee devices, network connections, and permissions
- Help negotiate and coordinate procurement and setup of products and services with vendors.
- Assist in identifying, recommending, procuring, and installing appropriate products and services to implement approved infrastructure improvements and strategy
- Other tasks and duties as assigned
Other career titles that you might start with as you pursue a career as a DevOps Engineer are software developer, applications developer, software release manager, software tester, or cloud engineer.
Based on statistics published by PayScale.com in December 2021, DevOps Engineers earn an average annual salary of $97,098. Entry-level DevOps Engineers earn just under $75,000 per year, while those with 20-plus years of experience can realize a yearly wage of $130,847. Salaries for DevOps Engineers above the national average are seen in such cities as San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.