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Career Path: How to become a Build/Release Engineer

Build/Release Engineers play a key role in tech companies. With modern software stacks becoming increasingly more complex, IT companies rely on build-engineers to optimize developer productivity. A career in this field provides the opportunity to get involved in a variety of innovative projects across different tech industries. It also comes with a lot of potential for career growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the huge increase in demand for software applications, job opportunities for application developers, including Build-Release engineers, will grow by over...more

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Career Path: How to become a Build/Release Engineer

Build/Release Engineers play a key role in tech companies. With modern software stacks becoming increasingly more complex, IT companies rely on build-engineers to optimize developer productivity. A career in this field provides the opportunity to get involved in a variety of innovative projects across different tech industries. It also comes with a lot of potential for career growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the huge increase in demand for software applications, job opportunities for application developers, including Build-Release engineers, will grow by over 30 percent by 2026.

Getting through the Door

To get an entry-level position as a Build/Release Engineer, you’ll need to demonstrate strong technical skills as well as hands-on experience in the compilation, assembly, and deployment of source code. Depending on the employer, this may include extensive experience with computer languages like Python and PowerShell as well as software tools like JIRA and Jenkins. Although it’s possible to get a job without a degree, most employers require that Build and Release engineers have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in software engineer, computer science or a related field. Recruiters also search for candidates who already have some experience in IT projects or software development processes.

You can improve your readiness for the job while in college by completing an internship program at a software company. This will give you an effective way of improving your programming skills while shoring up your resume. Some engineers start in lower level tech positions, working as a desktop support professional. In addition to technical skills, some of the other minimum requirements that you’ll need to succeed in this position include:

  • Good communication skills
  • Sharp attention to detail
  • Solid analytical skills
  • Good social skills

Working as a Junior Level Build/Release Engineer

Build/Release engineers often work alongside a team made up of project managers, clients and developers. They rely on different scripting and programming languages to test and deploy applications. Depending on the company, your duties may include performing static code analysis and executing programming scripts. You’ll resolve software issues, fix bugs and troubleshoot each application version before release. The job may also involve reviewing crash logs, software reviews and user-reported bugs. You may be tasked with developing implementation plans and contributing to timely software releases. Your responsibilities may also include maintaining software documentation for the project manager all through the development and deployment processes.

Mid-level and senior level engineers may mentor younger developers and provide training for other members of the team on SCM tools. Depending on the size of the team, they may contribute to the delivery cycle by developing code alongside other programmers to ensure stable performance.

Advance Your Career: How to become a Senior Build/Release Engineer

Most employers require that candidates for senior-level positions have a minimum of three years of experience as well as have extensive skills in a variety of areas, such as build tools. Recruiters prefer candidates who have extensive knowledge and experience in core areas. While the needs of companies may vary, most employers ultimately want engineers who have good design, debugging and development skills. As a senior engineer, you’ll need to write clean, adaptable and maintainable code that simplifies complex problems. Your company will rely on you to come up with hard-to-catch edge cases as well as to quickly spot bugs within a code base. You should also be able to make solid code reviews that help improve the overall code as well as be able to write clear documentation that allows new developers to get quickly up to speed.

Learning more about build tools is recommended. Working with modern build tools helps improve the workflow process and might even help optimize complex build processes across several machines. It automates the creation of a software build as well as its associated processes, such as running automated tests and compiling source code. While most software companies typically have a preferred tool, some of the popular options include:

  • Bamboo
  • Version One
  • Ansible
  • Gradle
  • Maven
  • CircleCI
  • Jenkins
  • Travis CI
  • TeamCity
  • Oracle Hudson CI
  • IBM Rational Build Forge

You may also want to consider getting an advanced degree to boost your resume. A Bachelor’s degree in software engineering or computer science is often enough for most junior or mid-level positions. However, if you’re looking to rise to senior or top-level positions, a graduate degree can be a great advantage, especially if it is in an important field like distributed networks or software engineering.

Keep Learning and Expand Your Network

Learn more about the different domains that you may have to work with. Some positions require candidates skilled only in Linux while others require proficiency with multiple operating systems. You’ll also need to have extensive knowledge in key areas like distributed systems, web development and configuration management to succeed as a Build Engineer. Senior build engineers are able to write well-documented code in one or more scripting languages. Finally, it’s important that you expand your network to include other build and release engineers. Join professional networks, online groups and tech forums. Sign up for conferences and seminars. A wide network helps to keep you updated on the emerging trends and technologies in the field as well as potential job opportunities.

Build/Release Engineer Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level build/release engineer with between 2 and 5 years of relevant experience.

As a Senior Build/Release Engineer, you’ll be tasked with managing the development and deployment of software releases. You’ll work closely with a team of professionals, including QA engineers, development engineers and product engineers. Our engineers are versatile and self-motivated, can work in a self-directed manner or in a collaborative setting as needed, and display leadership qualities. We value a diversity of perspectives and encourage healthy discussion and debate, but unite behind our decisions.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Developing new builds and release pipelines
  • Correcting build errors and maintaining formal release records to track release content
  • Developing dashboards to help quantify internal processes
  • Storing tools in source control
  • Compiling and assembling software through source code
  • Designing and executing tools and scripts to develop multiple product versions
  • Developing general releases, web products and service packs
  • Supporting integration of new technologies
  • Maintaining and evaluating tools supporting process automation for product release
  • Collaborating with QA, dev production and Live Ops teams on identifying and resolving any issues or risk related to release

What We Look For

  • 3+ years of experience configuring large-scale applications
  • Experience working with cloud automation tools (Puppet, Chef etc.)
  • Experience working with cloud platforms (Rackspace, EC2 etc.)
  • 2+ years of experience working with software build tools and integration tools
  • Solid experience working with Linux
  • Solid knowledge of version control systems (Git, SVN, Perforce etc.)
  • An interest in staying updated with the latest advancements in technology
  • B.S. degree in software engineering, computer science or equivalent experience

These Would Be Nice

  • Experience working with databases
  • Knowledge of platform certification processes
  • Experience with tools such as Tableau and Grafana

Senior Build/Release Engineer Career Paths: Where to Go from Here

With more than 10 years of experience working as a build-release engineer, your career could go in different directions, depending on your interest. You could rise up the ranks to become a lead release engineer in charge of managing teams or departments. You could also make a career shift into the expanded field of DevOps, where in addition to testing prototypes your duties will include automating fixes for bugs, creating pipelines to deliver stacks, deploying programs and creating style guides for applications.

If you’re interested in management, you could pair you technical experience with a graduate degree in business administration to give yourself the qualification you need to become an IT project manager. You’ll also need some experience leading teams or projects. Ten years as a project manager would put you firmly in the path towards becoming a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Depending on the size of the company and your qualifications, you may have a shot of becoming a top executive. Your career path as a build-release engineer will also be affected by your preferred industry. For instance, if you’re employed as a build-release engineer in mobile engineering, you could go on to become a mobile software architect, while a career in the gaming industry could see you rise to become lead engineer, development director or CTO.

Another alternative to management involves working in research and development, where you’ll be responsible for building and testing new products used by other QA engineers. This position requires a solid understanding of engineering processes as well as good coding skills. Rising through the ranks in this field will likely require a minimum of a Master’s degree in core fields like mechanical engineering, physics, software engine or electrical engineering. Alternatively, if you prefer the option of forging your own path, you could leverage your years of experience and wide network into a career as a consulting engineering. Choosing this path will expose you to more projects and involve working with a different team of engineers and non-engineers, so excellent communication skills and an ability to multitask are essential for success.

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