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DevOps Engineer Career Guide

What is a DevOps engineer?

A DevOps engineer is a tech whiz who works with software teams and IT experts to get software ready and out the door. They mix development (the ‘Dev’ part) and day-to-day operations (the ‘Ops’ part). Their goal? To make software better and faster. They’re like the glue between the people who build the software and those who keep it running.

Duties and responsibilities

DevOps engineers are jacks of all trades. They handle everything from setting up the tech to making sure the software works great. They write code, automate stuff to make life easier, and set up tools so developers and IT teams can work together better.

But there’s more—they also keep an eye on how well everything’s running and jump in if something goes wrong. They use all sorts of tech tools to keep everything humming and bridge the gap between creating software and making sure it works well for everyone.

Work environment

DevOps engineers usually work in offices, but working from home is pretty common, too. Their work is fast and furious, with lots of moving parts, so they’re always busy. They’re also the go-between for tech and non-tech people, explaining everything in a way everyone can understand.

Typical work hours

Normally, DevOps engineers work the usual 9-to-5, Monday to Friday. But since they’re part of teams that need to keep things running constantly, they might have to work some odd hours. They must be ready to fix things or monitor operations, sometimes even on weekends.

How to become a DevOps engineer

Becoming a DevOps engineer is a journey full of education, skills, and real-world experience. Here’s a straightforward path to get you there:

Step 1: Get a degree

Start with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or something similar. These degrees give you the basics like programming and software development. If you’re really into it, think about a master’s or Ph.D. for deeper knowledge and a boost in your career later on.

Step 2: Build technical skills

You’ve got to be good with tech skills. Learn programming languages (think Python, Java, Ruby) and get to know automation tools (like Jenkins or Ansible). Cloud services (AWS, Google Cloud) and container tools like Docker are also crucial. And don’t forget database management and being a great problem-solver.

Step 3: Gain experience

Start working in roles related to software development or IT. This experience is super important because it shows you how everything works in the real world. People often move into DevOps roles from jobs like software developers or systems administrators.

Step 4: Learn DevOps practices

DevOps isn’t just about tech; it’s also about how you work. Get familiar with practices like continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), infrastructure as code, and the importance of teamwork and solving problems together.

Step 5: Get certified

Certifications can really help. They show you know your stuff and are serious about this career. Options include AWS Certified DevOps Engineer or Docker Certified Associate. It’s usually best to get these after you’ve got some experience.

Step 6: Apply for jobs

With your education, skills, experience, and maybe some certifications, you’re ready to go for DevOps engineer jobs. Make your resume and cover letter shine with everything you’ve learned and done. And prep well for those technical interviews. Good luck!

How much do DevOps engineers make?

Compensation for DevOps engineers varies by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Certain factors, such as proficiency in automation tools, containers, and scripting languages, along with knowledge of cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, can positively impact their salary.

Highest paying industries

  • Information Services: $136,500
  • Software Publishers: $133,300
  • Data Processing and Hosting: $130,600
  • Insurance Carriers: $129,800
  • Real Estate: $128,500

Highest paying states

  • California: $138,700
  • Washington: $136,500
  • New York: $134,700
  • Massachusetts: $132,800
  • Virginia: $130,600

Browse DevOps engineer salary data by market

Types of DevOps engineers

DevOps engineering has branched out into several specialized careers. Let’s look at some of the main roles:

  • Infrastructure architect: These tech wizards focus on the nuts and bolts of a system’s tech environment. They look at all the hardware and software parts to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 
  • Release manager: Think of them as the project’s orchestra conductor. They handle the nitty-gritty of getting new software or updates out the door. 
  • Security engineer: These folks are super important in a world where online security is a big deal. They design and test ways to protect networks and systems from cyber threats. 
  • Cloud engineer: As more companies move to cloud computing, cloud engineers are in high demand. They’re the ones designing and managing cloud systems – be it a private cloud, public cloud, or a mix of both. 
  • Scripting and automation expert: Time is money, and these experts are all about making things faster and more efficient. They write scripts and use tools to automate repetitive tasks. 

Top skills for DevOps engineers

Certain skills and traits are essential to excel as a DevOps engineer. Here’s what you need to shine in this role:

  • Broad tech knowledge in software and IT: You need a good grasp of both software development and IT operations. This helps bridge the gap between development and operations teams, making things run smoothly and faster.
  • Expertise in automation tools: Automation is a big deal in DevOps. Knowing tools like Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and Jenkins inside out helps speed up the process by cutting out repetitive tasks and increasing efficiency.
  • Problem-solving skills: Tech often throws curveballs, so being able to stay cool and solve problems is key. You must understand system architecture well and think logically to figure things out.
  • Understanding cloud technology: Cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are often part of their toolkit. Knowing how to use these platforms and what they’re good for is super important.
  • Great communication: Since you’ll work with various teams, being able to explain tech stuff in a simple way is essential. Good communication makes it easier for everyone to understand and work together.
  • Eagerness to learn: Tech changes fast, so staying up-to-date is non-negotiable. Whether through courses or on your own, keeping up with new tech and methods is part of the job.

DevOps engineer career path

As DevOps engineers grow, they often branch out into roles with more responsibility or pursue related fields. Their deep understanding of both software development and systems operations puts them in a prime position for various career advancements:

Senior DevOps engineer

Moving up to a senior role is a common goal. Senior engineers have mastered their craft, managing bigger projects and leading teams. They’re the go-to for tough problems and also help mentor newer team members.

Site reliability engineer (SRE)

Becoming an SRE is another path. They focus on keeping large software systems running smoothly and efficiently. They use their DevOps knowledge to boost system performance and prevent issues before they start.

Cloud architect

For those really into cloud technology, becoming a cloud architect is a great move. In this role, you design and build cloud-based solutions for companies. It’s all about using cloud tech to meet business needs in the best way possible.

DevOps consultant

If sharing knowledge and solving varied challenges sounds exciting, consider consulting. DevOps consultants work with different organizations, helping them adopt or improve their DevOps strategies. You could work independently or with a consulting firm, guiding companies through their DevOps journeys.

DevOps engineers are in a sweet spot right now, thanks to how popular the DevOps method has become. It’s all about bringing together development, operations, and quality assurance; companies of all sizes are really into it. Here’s why DevOps experts are in demand:

  • High demand in the market: Companies are on the lookout for pros who get the whole development lifecycle. If you understand how everything from creating software to keeping it running fits together, you’re like gold in the job market.
  • Boost from cloud services: The cloud is big business these days, and it’s only getting bigger. This boom is making companies more eager than ever for engineers who can work their magic.
  • Key role in IT and tech startups: In a world where tech is king, their role is becoming super important. They’re not just another cog in the machine but central to keeping the whole IT department or a tech startup ticking along smoothly.

Employment projections

Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, employment in this field is expected to jump by 25% through 2031. Given these trends, going into DevOps engineering isn’t just a solid choice for right now; it’s also a smart move for the long haul. There’s a growing need for these skills, making it a career path with plenty of opportunities ahead.

DevOps engineer career tips

Understand the correlation between agile and DevOps practices

Recognize how Agile and DevOps practices complement each other. Both focus on efficiency, teamwork, and high-quality output rooted in lean manufacturing principles. Merging these practices in your daily work can significantly boost operations and value delivery.

Stay current with automation tools

Automation is a big part of DevOps. Tools evolve quickly, so keeping up with the latest developments is crucial. Staying informed about new automation tools optimizes your productivity and enhances your expertise and appeal in the job market.

Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement

DevOps is all about ongoing delivery and enhancement. Aim to continuously seek out learning opportunities, refine processes, and explore more efficient task execution methods. This approach makes you a valuable asset in any team.

Build a professional network

Networking keeps you connected with industry trends and provides access to experienced insights and potential job leads. Engage with professional bodies and online groups such as:

  • DevOps Institute
  • DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA)
  • LinkedIn Groups such as DevOps Discussions and DevOps Networking

Prioritize continuous learning

Staying updated is vital. Here are some ways to keep learning:

  • Attend industry conferences and webinars
  • Take up relevant online courses
  • Pursue advanced certifications such as AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, Google Professional DevOps Engineer, and Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

Where the DevOps engineer jobs are

Top employers

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Oracle
  • Google

Top states

  • California
  • Washington
  • Texas
  • New York
  • North Carolina

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder


What are the key skills required to become a DevOps engineer?

They should be proficient in computer software, programming languages, and software development. They should also have a thorough understanding of DevOps tools and technologies, strong problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team. Familiarity with system administration and system architecture is additionally important.

What educational qualifications are required to become a DevOps engineer?

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or a related field is typically required. Some hiring managers might prefer candidates with a master’s degree in these areas. Additionally, specific certifications such as the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer and the Certified Kubernetes Administrator may be beneficial.

What kind of tasks does a DevOps engineer perform regularly?

Day-to-day responsibilities might include developing and implementing software solutions, collaborating with product development teams to deliver high-quality software more efficiently, maintaining and enhancing CI/CD pipelines, and managing IT infrastructure. They might also be responsible for troubleshooting software issues and monitoring system performance.

What is a typical career path for a DevOps engineer?

This career will often stem from software developer or system administrator positions. With experience, they may move up to management or higher-level technical positions, such as DevOps architect. Some may even advance to the level of director of engineering.

What are the work hours like for a DevOps engineer?

Most work full-time, typically during regular business hours. However, they may need to be on-call in case of any systems issues that occur outside of regular office hours. Some may have the flexibility to work remotely as well.

What type of companies hire DevOps engineers?

Organizations across various sectors, including technology companies, software firms, e-commerce organizations, financial institutions, media companies, education institutions, healthcare providers, and more. Any business that has a significant digital presence or builds software might need their skills.

What software tools does a DevOps engineer typically use?

Common tools include Jenkins for continuous integration, Docker for containerization, Kubernetes for container orchestration, Ansible for configuration management, and cloud service platforms like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud. They also often use several programming languages like Python, Ruby, Perl, or Java.

Is it necessary to learn coding to become a DevOps engineer?

A basic understanding of coding concepts and the ability to write scripts in languages like Python, Ruby, or Perl is often necessary. This is because DevOps bridges the gap between development and operations, and understanding code helps to facilitate better communication and collaboration between these two aspects.

How significant is automation in the DevOps role?

Automation is critically important, primarily because one of the key objectives of DevOps is to improve the speed and efficiency of software delivery and infrastructure changes. By automating repetitive tasks, they can ensure faster delivery times and greater consistency while reducing the risk of human error.

What does a DevOps engineer do to ensure system security?

They work closely with security teams to integrate security measures into the development lifecycle. This role might involve establishing secure coding practices, using security software, monitoring and addressing security incidents, and increasingly, implementing DevSecOps practices, a philosophy that integrates security considerations more directly into DevOps.