DevOps Engineers are in demand like nobody’s business. Well, somebody’s business, because that’s sort of the whole point. But either way this pent up demand means good news for anyone considering a career in the field. Even more good news — at an average of $100,000+ per year, DevOps engineers command healthy salaries.
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Engineers in this field have to flex multiple different muscles in order to do their jobs well. This makes the role both challenging and fulfilling. They also get to have a major impact on their organization in terms of efficiency and reliability. In fact, companies using DevOps practices reportedly deploy code up to 30 times more frequently than competitors—and 50 percent fewer of their deployments fail.
All that said, this role is not without its challenges. Because the field is newer, there really isn’t a clear cut career path. Some DevOps engineers start as developers while others start as system administrators. Others get their start in something else entirely. Complicating things further is this role can have very different responsibilities from one company to another. Be aware of this as you interview. It’s important to clarify often wildly different sets of expectations.
The upside of all this murkiness? Individuals who are interested in this field can build their own path to some extent, accumulating experience in different industries and roles in order to carve out a career that makes sense for them. If you’re interested in a career in DevOps, the following tips can help get you on your way.
Weak programming skills are one of the resume gaps that many employers cite when it comes to DevOps candidates, so if you’re aiming for a career in this field, you need to make sure that you are up to date with languages like Ruby or Python at a minimum.
Some consider DevOps challenging to break into. Why? Because you need to be able to write code and to work across and integrate different systems and applications. Job listings include everything from networking and data management to storage, security and even newer container technologies like Docker, Mesos, Kubernetes and Nomad. Most employers won’t expect you to be an expert in all, but have experience in at least some.
A few you’d be well advised to gain more experience in include third party APIs and configuration management tools like Chef, Puppet and Ansible. You should also be able to speak to the importance and implementation of a sound software development lifecycle (SDLC), including version control, automated tests and deployment best practices.
And because part of your job as a DevOps engineer is to improve and add efficiency to existing processes, you should demonstrate your ability to stay on top of emerging trends and technologies. Positioning yourself as a constant learner who is not content with the status quo is a surefire way to set yourself apart in the interview process.
While the strong focus on coding chops makes software engineering a natural path to a career in DevOps, the challenge for candidates who are coming from this world is they need to be able to prove that they can look outside their immediate team and project.
DevOps engineers facilitate collaboration and communication between the Development and IT teams within an organization. For successful interviews, demonstrate your understanding of how disparate parts of the technical organization fit and work together.
Related: Curious about a Career in DevOps? How to Prep for Strong Interviews
Given the emphasis on communication and collaboration in DevOps, soft skills are more critical than in other engineering roles. Need proof? In a CA Technologies’ survey of 1,300 IT decision makers, soft skills all ranked highly for DevOps success. These skills included communication (36%), project management skills (30%), and people skills (30%). All ranked above technical skills.
As Dell engineer and chief security architect David Mortman noted in a recent article for DevOps.com, “Sharing is a key tenet of DevOps and if you can’t share what you know and what you’ve learned, then having that knowledge is effectively useless. You’ve just made yourself a bottleneck.”
One of the reasons soft skills are so important is this role is highly cross-functional. Most DevOps engineers must overcome silos between the development and operations team. These teams may be competitive or even mistrustful of one another. As a result, may hesitate to share knowledge and best practices.
In this way, the DevOps movement impacts the culture of an organization. They bring engineers in the development and operations together to develop and maintain the production system as a single team.
DevOps is an exciting field with the chance to enact change on your respective organization. What’s more, it gives its practitioners countless learning opportunities along the way.
If this is a field you’re committed to carving out a career path in: