What Does a DevOps Engineer Do? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 15, 2021

A DevOps engineer is responsible for optimizing an organization's software, including software maintenance and server administration. Learn how to get the skills you need to be a DevOps engineer.

[Featured image] A DevOps engineer in jeans and a pink knit sweater stands in front of her desk and smiles at the camera. Her workspace has two monitors, a telephone, and several indoor plants.

A DevOps engineer is responsible for leading and coordinating the activities of different teams to create and maintain a company's software. The term 'DevOps' is a portmanteau of "development operations" and is a practice that aims at automating all steps of software construction.

A DevOps engineer’s end goal is to shorten the software development cycle, increase the frequency of updates, and allow for more dependable releases.

How much is a DevOps engineer's salary?

The average salary for DevOps engineers in the United States is $105,017 per year, according to Glassdoor data in December 2021. DevOps engineers can work overtime or spend time on-call, as software issues can come up at odd hours.

Types of DevOps engineers

DevOps engineers may take on specific roles, depending on their interests and the needs of the organizations where they work. Among the types of DevOps engineers are:

  • A release manager manages ongoing software updates.

  • Software developers write code.

  • Quality assurance engineers are responsible for reviewing and testing new code.

  • Security engineers ensure the security of the software in the system.

DevOps engineering skills

DevOps engineering requires a mix of technical and people skills to succeed.

Technical skills

DevOps engineers are first and foremost engineers. In addition to standard engineering skills, like math and analytical thinking, they should understand:

  • Project management: As the person responsible for ensuring that a company's software is up to date, secure, and free from bugs and glitches, a DevOps engineer needs to be looking for and implementing any relevant improvements constantly. A good DevOps engineer must have a firm grasp of the initiation, planning, execution, and monitoring of everything from minor bug fixes to massive updates.

  • Coding: Although some DevOps engineers may not always write code, they must still understand the fundamentals of whatever coding language is being used.

  • Server administration: DevOps engineers administer a company's networks and servers that host any software that's being created. This means creating accounts, updating permissions, and ensuring that everything is regularly backed up. They also set the procedures that junior IT professionals follow when troubleshooting, debugging, or making any other changes.

People skills

DevOps engineers are also team players and spend a lot of their days working with people from all sorts of different professional backgrounds. To be successful, you must understand:

  • Communications: Part of the process of making sure that software is constantly up to date and glitch free involves talking to tech support, listening to feedback, and passing it on to the team. They need to effectively explain what's going on and what needs to be done.

  • Coaching: An effective DevOps engineer should always be looking to improve their team and software. This means identifying gaps in the skill set and devising ways to fill them, whether training existing staff or hiring new staff.

  • Flexibility: Software issues can happen at any hour of the day or night. DevOps engineers often work irregular hours and stay on call to resolve any issues. 

How to become a DevOps engineer

Consider a bachelor’s degree.

Many job descriptions for DevOps engineers call for at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, though some employers will accept equivalent work experience.

Earn a certification.

Some companies might look for certifications in subjects like Linux administration and SQL server development to show competency.

Start in a related role.

DevOps engineers should have a lot of experience with all sorts of software tools and coding languages. You can work in IT, system administration, or software development to get this experience.

DevOps engineers can start with an entry-level system administrator, support, or help desk role. This will give you experience with software maintenance.

Get started in DevOps

If you're ready to take the next step toward an in-demand career in DevOps, consider earning the Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud DevOps Engineer Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn from industry experts at Google as you prepare for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification exam.

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Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 15, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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