What Is DevOps? Becoming a DevOps Engineer – Forbes Advisor

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DevOps (development and operations) is a popular set of practices, tools, philosophies and processes for streamlining and improving the software development lifecycle. DevOps engineers collaborate and communicate between development and operations teams and facilitate continuous improvement and technology automation in software development.

With strong demand for this skill set in the developer hiring market, learning DevOps can help you improve your career prospects. Popular DevOps career paths include software developer, security engineer and DevOps engineer.

But what is a DevOps engineer, and what do these professionals do? Responsibilities and job descriptions for this role vary, but DevOps engineers generally oversee and improve the software development lifecycle. They use coding, administrative, problem solving and interpersonal skills to connect development and operations teams and improve, speed up and automate parts of the software development process.

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Historically, software operations teams and development teams worked separately from each other. Starting around 2007, however, the DevOps model began to challenge this isolated approach to software development.

DevOps encourages software developers, IT operations, IT security and quality engineering professionals to collaborate throughout the software development lifecycle. This requires an organization-wide commitment to embrace a DevOps culture.

DevOps focuses on improving customer service by speeding up, automating and continually improving software planning, development, deployment and operations. Other DevOps goals include agility and adaptability, reliability and shorter recovery times following security breaches and failures.

Companies increasingly want professionals with DevOps skills. The 2022 State of Tech Hiring Report from CoderPad and CodinGame found that 25% of recruiters planned to hire DevOps engineers in the coming year, speaking to the high demand for this role.

DevOps professionals come from diverse tech backgrounds, and there isn’t one clear-cut path to launching a DevOps career. You can start learning DevOps by completing a relevant bootcamp or online course.

Coding bootcamps provide intensive hands-on training to help graduates build the skills for entry-level IT positions. A typical coding bootcamp covers computer science fundamentals, computer programming languages, web development and databases. Some bootcamps cover several coding languages; others focus on just one.

If you already have a good grasp on programming, you might consider a DevOps-focused coding bootcamp. DevOps bootcamps cover topics such as continuous delivery, configuration management, containerization and deployment automation. They provide hands-on training with popular DevOps tools like Kubernetes, Terraform and Ansible.

Online courses offer another excellent way to learn about DevOps and get a feel for the field. Usually offering a self-paced learning structure, online courses come with various levels of instructor engagement, career support, education and experience prerequisites and tuition prices.

Because DevOps seeks to improve technology and culture, DevOps engineers need strong technical coding and interpersonal skills. Although DevOps skills are in demand, the DevOps engineering role is relatively new; responsibilities and job descriptions vary.

Typical DevOps work environments include the computer systems design industry, software publishing companies, and finance and insurance. DevOps engineers often work with software developers, system administrators and site reliability engineers.

DevOps engineers need communication skills. They must understand the goals of their organization’s development and operations teams. Interpersonal skills can help DevOps professionals facilitate better collaboration between teams, cutting down the time needed to develop and deploy a software product.

Typical responsibilities for a DevOps engineer may include building and deploying code, automating tasks, updating software and system administration. DevOps engineers also work on security issues, plan new code, test software reliability and troubleshoot problems.

DevOps engineers need expertise in coding and operating systems, and many hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science-related fields. Many employers prefer or require a DevOps certification and relevant professional experience. Learn more about what it takes to become a DevOps engineer below.

Coding, which involves using computer programming languages to create websites and applications, is a foundational skill for DevOps engineers. Popular coding languages for this role include Python, Java, JavaScript and HTML. DevOps engineers should also understand data structures and algorithms, web development, databases, and cloud computing.

DevOps engineers need a strong grasp on operating systems, which are the main computer programs enabling all other software and hardware programs to run.

Get exposure to several common operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Google Android, Apple macOS and iOS, and Linux. Familiarize yourself with operating system issues like network management, security management and file management.

DevOps engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software development, information technology, computer programming or software engineering. Programs vary in focus and curricula but should include classes in computer programming languages, foundations of computer science and operating systems.

That said, many employers hire applicants without academic backgrounds in computer science for DevOps positions. While a degree helps your chances, you can still find work if you can demonstrate relevant skills learned through self-study or a bootcamp program.

Though not universally required by the industry, professional certification can help you launch a DevOps career. A DevOps certification can help you show potential employers you have the technical skills and knowledge to succeed.

The tech industry highly values certifications, with many employers preferring or requiring applicants to hold relevant professional credentials. You can use a professional certification to help yourself stand out from other DevOps job applicants or to ask for a higher starting salary or a raise.

You can get real-world DevOps work experience while in school by completing an internship in DevOps, software development or operations. Consider joining the DevOps LinkedIn Group to network with industry professionals and learn about ways to get experience.

Many people also gain relevant experience working in other tech positions such as software developer or IT administrator before becoming a DevOps engineer.

Many DevOps engineers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer science, software development or software engineering. As a relatively new field that invites people from various educational and professional IT backgrounds, DevOps work does not require one specific degree.

Yes, DevOps offers an in-demand, high-paying career path. Payscale reports that DevOps engineers earn about $105,900 per year on average. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track data specifically for DevOps engineers, it projects a 25% job growth (much faster than average) between 2022 and 2032 for software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers, a similar career category.

Career opportunities for people with DevOps skills include DevOps engineer, software developer, and computer and information systems manager. Organizations also seek people with DevOps skills for roles like automation expert, quality assurance engineer and security engineer.

Liz Simmons has been writing for various online publications about career development, higher education and college affordability for nearly a decade. Her articles demystify the college application process and help prospective students figure out how to choose a major or career path.