What Does a DevOps Engineer Do? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A DevOps engineer optimises an organisation'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' blends development and operations, much in the way that you form a bridge between the two worlds. DevOps aims to automate 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?

Salaries for DevOps engineers in the UK’s London area average £53,673 per year [1]. In the United Kingdom, the annual salary is slightly lower at £52,127 per year [2].

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 several different roles as they advance in their careers. The progression can include the following trajectory:

  • Apprentice DevOps engineer

  • Junior DevOps engineer

  • DevOps engineer

  • Senior DevOps engineer

  • Senior DevOps engineer-management

  • Lead DevOps engineer

  • Lead DevOps engineer-management

  • Principal DevOps engineer

  • Principal DevOps engineer-management

A DevOps engineer can also work under several different job titles, including:

  • Platform Engineer

  • Build Engineer

  • Site Reliability Engineer

  • System Engineer

  • Cyber Security Engineer

  • Product Manager

  • Release Manager

  • Data Analyst

  • QA Lead

  • Automation Architect

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 traditional engineering skills, like maths 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 they’re working with.

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

  • Information security. As a DevOps engineer, you’ll design solutions and services while maintaining security protocols and ensuring systems comply with regulations. The focus will be on cutting security threats.

  • Systems design and integration. You’ll translate logical designs into physical builds using the required standards and prototyping tools. You may need to build and test systems considering levels of risk, business and technical complexity, and meaningful impact. 

Workplace skills

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

  • Communications: Ensuring software is constantly updated 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’s in progress.  

  • Coaching: A practical 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 problems.

  • Adaptability: DevOps engineers work in a continuously evolving environment. Expect to constantly encounter new technologies as you work to build and deploy better quality software quickly.

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.

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.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "How much does a DevOps engineer make in London, United Kingdom?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/london-devops-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IM1035_KO7,22.htm/." Accessed June 4, 2024.

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