What Does a DevOps Engineer Do? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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 is sitting on their desk in the office.

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 base salary for DevOps engineers in the US is $104,095 per year [1]. When acknowledging additional pay like commissions or profit-sharing, Glassdoor estimates the total pay value to be $132,767 . 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 used.

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

Workplace skills

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

  • Communications: Part of ensuring 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 must effectively explain what's happening 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. 

Read more: What Are Job Skills and Why Do They Matter?

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. For example, an aspiring DevOps engineer may earn a certificate in Linux System Administration with IBM Power Systems:



Linux System Administration with IBM Power Systems

This course introduces administrative tasks that a system administrator can perform with Linux hosted on IBM Power servers. This includes virtualization ...


(95 ratings)

5,352 already enrolled


Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, virtualization, IBM Power Systems, Cloud Computing

Start in a related role.

DevOps engineers should have a lot of experience with 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 to gain 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.


professional certificate

Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud DevOps Engineer

Advance your career as an SRE & DevOps Engineer


(2,248 ratings)

29,715 already enrolled


Average time: 5 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine (GAE), Google Cloud Platform, Cloud Computing, SRE Culture, Business Value, Organizational Culture, Disaster Recovery, Site Reliability Engineering, Continuous Delivery, Kubernetes, Jenkins (Software)

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. "How much does a DevOps engineer make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/devops-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.htm." Accessed November 22, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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