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Career Path: How to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

Most businesses must have a dependable computer system to keep their operations functioning as needed. It is the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) who is needed when computer systems are not operating up to snuff. It is a job role Google created to dub software engineers who have a knack for developing systems.

Those interested in work as a Site Reliability Engineer will likely know that there is much more to this role than just building and maintaining computer systems – they are involved in all aspects of the application, software and system development. It is a career that...more

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Career Path: How to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

Most businesses must have a dependable computer system to keep their operations functioning as needed. It is the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) who is needed when computer systems are not operating up to snuff. It is a job role Google created to dub software engineers who have a knack for developing systems.

Those interested in work as a Site Reliability Engineer will likely know that there is much more to this role than just building and maintaining computer systems – they are involved in all aspects of the application, software and system development. It is a career that experts agree will stay in-demand, particularly as the computer systems we rely on daily continue to evolve and become more complex through advances in technology.

Getting Through the Door

To gain an entry-level role in Site Reliability Engineering, most employers like candidates to have a degree in computer science or a related field. There is also a certain level of experience a Site Reliability Engineer should have attained to enter the workforce, which may include:

  • An aptitude for various programming languages, including C++ and Java.
  • Familiarity with different operating systems, like Linux and cloud computing systems.
  • Being able to code software in response to system deficiencies.
  • Having working knowledge of automation technologies.

These are just a few examples, but it does help illustrate how highly technical SRE work can be. When preparing to work as a Site Reliability Engineer, be sure to have a thorough understanding of various IT tools.

Degrees and Experience

As mentioned, the degree needed to enter Site Reliability Engineering may depend on the hiring company, but for the most part, having a bachelor’s degree in computer science should be suitable. Some SREs may take it upon themselves to earn certification as a Site Reliability Engineer or as a certified software developer. The more education you amass, the more likely you are to get a better paying and more satisfying job position.

Experience invariably adds up to technical aptitudes, such as those listed above. These can be gained doing coursework while working at an internship, through online programs and working in a technical role that allowed you to handle various programming platforms, languages and operating systems previously. Many SREs have worked as systems administrators who integrate software components and manage complex computer systems, making them familiar with much of the work an SRE will undertake. Site Reliability Engineer is a cross-disciplinary role that is still evolving, making sure you are well adept for any technical duties you may be assigned is ideal.

Working as a Junior Level Site Reliability Engineer

Junior level Site Reliability Engineers have likely worked in their role for at least a couple years and are beginning to hone their skills and have added more reliable components to their toolbox. At the junior level, a Site Reliability Engineer has demonstrated that they are excelling in their role and are likely working on larger and more complex computer systems. They work alongside other SREs in a collaborative environment and together solve various issues with computer systems throughout their organization, using software engineering traits to create an operations function.

Moving up the Ranks

Site Reliability Engineers who wish to advance in their career can certainly do so with perseverance and flexibility. Being able to work well with others, adapting to new technologies and having an interest in making computer systems more efficient is a start, but standing out from the crowd can also be vital in a tech role such as this.

Say you are working on a relatively small team with other SREs but have a largescale project assigned to you that necessitates engineering parts of an immense quantity of a certain tech product. Assessing the situation and suggesting that you and your colleagues standardize your tools ensures that all products work the same and are completed more efficiently. More than that, this is the type of plan that will impress managers and get a Site Reliability Engineer moving up the ranks in no time.

Advance Your Career: How to Become a Senior Site Reliability Engineer

The road to a Senior Site Reliability Engineer position is paved with ambition and aptitude. As Site Reliability Engineers gain more experience and develop more technical knowledge, they are likely to find themselves leading SRE teams on more complex and largescale system projects. Taking on more responsibilities in addition to your regular duties is a great way to stand out, as is the willingness to help struggling colleagues.

Site Reliability Engineering is competitive and a relatively new field. Its roles are not always clearly defined yet, so making your mark in this field can mean you help outline what it means to be a Site Reliability Engineer as it continues evolving.

Study the Core Fields

To understand the core fields that makeup SRE is to understand the role of Site Reliability Engineer. These main areas of interest include automation and cloud computing. Automation allows technical components to install and upgrade themselves without human intervention and is the goal of all SRE work. Cloud computing has three main services – SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) and understanding these will help Site Reliability Engineers understand how to best access information and data used by employees to troubleshoot and correct issues they are having.

Invest in Yourself

It is key as Site Reliability Engineer to constantly improve your knowledge and strive to stay on top of technology shifts and trends. Attend seminars and conferences related to IT, take online courses and earn additional certifications as an SRE and network where possible to gain insights from your fellow SREs. Taking the time to brush up on your skills and gain additional experiences will make you an even more formidable Site Reliability Engineer.

Don’t Stop at Site Reliability Engineering

Site Reliability Engineers do work that is similar to DevOps engineers, helping to create software that covers both developer and operational issues while a goal of making components automated. They are also roles that were borne out of necessity, doing untraditional work that fills a gap exposed as technologies evolve and expand. Familiarizing yourself with the work frontend and backend engineers is useful too, as these developers use a similar software as SREs while designing functional and aesthetic components that may help you as SRE better picture the user experience.

Site Reliability Engineer Job Description

Site Reliability Engineers manage, protect and develop systems and software in devices. Though at first, it may sound like an operations role, it differs in that SREs use the software as their primary method for extending and repairing code to shield systems from being undercut by errors and outages. For both small and large distributed systems, it is key for Site Reliability Engineers to implement solutions that are automated, making their complex technical processes more streamlined and efficient.

It was traditionally the work of operations teams to fix computer system errors, but the need for implementing automation and making systems more scalable lead to the development of engineers who excel in software, i.e. – the Site Reliability Engineer.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Managing and extending computer systems using software engineering tools.
  • Making complex systems scalable and more reliable.
  • Constantly implementing automation configuration where possible to increase efficiency.
  • Executing tests to check and evaluate systems and software.

We Look For

  • Proficiency with tools like Git, Vim for advanced code editing, Linux operating system, Python programming language, testing tools and database management with MySQL.
  • Someone who can handle multiple complex systems and not shy away from the challenge of improving them.
  • The willingness to try new technologies and make them harmonize with existing systems to achieve better operations overall.

These Would Also Be Nice

  • Excellent communication
  • Thriving as a member of a team
  • Excelling under pressure
  • The ability to think fast
  • A natural problem-solver

Senior Site Reliability Engineer Career Paths: Where to Go from Here

Attaining a senior position in SRE is immensely rewarding and may bring a Site Reliability Engineer to an interesting crossroads. Because the field of SRE is still being clarified, it is entirely conceivable that a senior Site Reliability Engineer will be happy to stay in a senior position until retiring. Others prefer to move on to a different field and use their skillsets to take on new challenges.

When senior Site Reliability Engineers do move on to a different career, it is usually to a similar role, such as in DevOps, as a DevOps engineering manager, overseeing the various DevOps teams that are in charge making software releases more efficient. Others prefer to stay in SRE but take on a managerial title and continue guiding and mentoring junior colleagues as well as the efforts of the entire SRE team.

Those continuing on as a Senior Site Reliability Engineer will continue to enjoy guiding their team to successful computer systems management and improvement through their extensive software abilities, as well as discover new and improved means shoring up systems glitches.

Python is an object-oriented programming language notable for its clarity, power and flexibility. Python is an interpreted language, meaning that an interpreter reads and runs the code directly, rather than compiling down into static lower level c...

Java is a statically-typed, cross-platform language. It is concurrent, class-based, and object-oriented. It has minimal implementation dependencies and compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilat...


C++ is an object-oriented language derived from C, and invented by Bjarne Stroustrup, while working at AT&T's Bell Labs. It is widely used for systems-level programming, and building applications on Windows and various Unix operating systems (Lin...


C is a widely used low-level, static-typed, compiled computer language known for its efficiency. Developed in the late sixties, C has become one of the most widely used languages of all time. It provides direct access to memory and due to its de...

Swift is a programming language created by Apple Inc. for macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS development. It is meant to work well with the large body of existing Objective-C (ObjC) code written for Apple products. Some of the core concepts it supports...

Android is an open source mobile operating system created by Google. Globally, it is the most popular operating system, followed by Apple's iOS. Applications for Android are typically developed in Java, though Kotlin may also be used. Limited supp...

"Agile Methodologies" or "Agile" are ways of describing an iterative approach to software development. Often adopted as an alternative to waterfall and other traditional sequential development practices. It is meant to help teams work quickly to i...

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