According to the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide released in 2019, DevOps roles are ranked as the seventh hardest positions to staff in the tech industry. Though the demand for DevOps engineers is rising year on year, there remains a huge skills gap, thus creating the shortage of qualified personnel.
With a high demand for DevOps engineers, the most important questions for any individual pursuing this career path are whether it’s worthwhile and which specific route to take. In terms of pay, the average DevOps engineer earns $ 94, 615 annually, with plenty of opportunities for career progression.
DevOps Roles and Responsibilities
The field of DevOps is relatively new and in constant evolution. Depending on the industry and a company’s unique needs, the job description for a DevOps engineer can vary. However, even with the variations, there are plenty of similarities.
Some of the options you have for a career in DevOps include:
1. DevOps Architect
The job of a DevOps architect involves analyzing and executing the DevOps practices within their team or organization. With such a role, you will be required to build the overall DevOps environment by using the most efficient techniques depending on industry standards. Once the DevOps ecosystem is up and running, the next phase will involve adding tools to facilitate automation.
In essence, a DevOps architect plays the role of a facilitator for the DevOps processes and operations. This is achieved by creating a build environment that’s continuous to speed up software development, testing, and the deployment process. They also play a mentorship role for developers in their organization, guiding them during operations, and addressing any challenges they face.
2. Security Engineer
DevSecOps, which refers to security in a DevOps ecosystem, is the responsibility of a security engineer. In such a capacity, your work will be to ensure the whole DevOps environment is secure by using tools such as configuration management and log management. In order to succeed, you must develop a security philosophy that will guide DevOps operations and ensure each developer adheres to the guidelines.
Unlike the waterfall software development lifecycle with which security can only be implemented as you release codes, with a DevOps ecosystem, security is crucial all through the lifecycle.
3. Release Manager
In DevOps, there needs to be a lot of planning, scheduling, monitoring, and controlling to ensure that the process of software development and deployment runs smoothly. All these tasks are carried out by a release manager. Their role involves ensuring the work of development and operations teams is synchronized.
In addition, release managers set the criteria used to determine whether the current build of the software is fit for release. This is achieved by overlooking the quality standards of the builds and using the CI/CD pipeline. Should you pursue a career as a release manager, your work will be less technical and involve people more.
4. Software Tester
Any error on the code of software can greatly affect functionality. To avoid scenarios where users cannot access key features before the software is released, it must be tested. This is the role of a software tester. However, their role does not only come into play after the development process.
They first set out a test design, test scenarios, and ensure there are tools to facilitate automation for the same. A software tester verifies that the code is correct and that changes function as intended without affecting the software in other ways. In essence, their role is to ensure that software meets all the requirements set out by the release manager.
5. Automation Engineer
Continuous integration and continuous development CI/CD pipeline are vital in DevOps. It facilitates easier and faster implementation of changes in codes. Along with creating the CI/CD pipeline, maintaining them is an automation engineer’s job. For this purpose, they rely on tools such as Gradle, Gerrit, Maven, Git, and Jenkins, among others.
Other tools such as Puppet, Ansible, Fabric, SaltStack, and Chef are also used to automate and configure management across platforms and systems. This career also comes with the responsibility of building and administering containers and virtual machines. The tools used for this include Splunk, ELK stack, and Splunk.
6. Integration Specialist
To gain a holistic view of the DevOps environment, an integrations specialist is necessary. They develop the integration and continuity of the code and support engineering and testing to ensure infrastructure needs are met. This is achieved by coordinating with the operations team and the software development team.
In their job description, they are also required to offer support in the automation processes. To implement containers as per the requirements of the developer, they work with cloud architects.
7. Data Analyst
Another specialist that any Chief Technology Officer would love to have in their team is a data analyst. A data analyst‘s primary objective is to support development goals by siphoning and sifting through existing data. From their assessment of user data, they can identify patterns and or design concerns and determine how they affect user experience.
With this information, a developer can make the necessary adjustments to the code, ensuring software is not only in optimal condition but also meets the users‘ needs.
Which Skills Are Necessary to Become a DevOps Engineer?
The path to becoming a DevOps engineer is long but certainly worthwhile. Though there are many career paths you can take in this field, there are some key skills that cut across multiple job groups.
1. Programming Knowledge
A DevOps engineer’s job comes with a lot of responsibilities; key among them is ensuring everything runs smoothly and filling the gaps. Since you may be required to act in varying capacities, knowledge in programming is invaluable. If there is an issue with code, you will be able to identify and resolve it, eliminating the need to send it back to development before the software is deployed.
You will also be able to build tools that will automate different processes, thus boosting overall efficiency within the DevOps life cycle.
2. Learn About System Administration
A system administrator‘s work involves building, deploying, testing, and ensuring the system is in good health by fixing any issues that crop up. As a DevOps engineer, this knowledge is crucial as it will enable you to keep the systems in operation continuously.
3. Network and Storage
There is a lot of data within a DevOps environment. As such, the need for in-house servers or cloud computing is very high. With this in mind, you should familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of managing network issues. Exposure to IT network and storage concepts such as connections, data, and storage, will allow you to address challenges with the network or servers in real-time, thus preventing delays in the development and deployment processes.
As you begin, focus on learning scripting then proceed to configuration and deployment tools. These include OpenStack, Linux, AWS, and Azure.
4. Automation Tools
In a DevOps environment, automation is essential. This is because a DevOps pipeline revolves around continuous and recurring processes. Automation makes development and deployment processes significantly more efficient and faster. All the elements within the stages of creating code, deploying, testing should be automated.
Though there are many automation tools, the most popular ones are Jenkins, Puppet, and Kubernetes. Other aspects that can be automated include post-production testing, infrastructure setup, and configurations.
5. Infrastructure management
Unlike new systems that are geared for a DevOps environment, legacy systems must be prepared for such work. Learn how to configure legacy systems in a way that they will be balanced, scalable, secure, compliant, and with all the necessary backups. Basically, you should be able to get legacy systems from a manual mode of operation into an automated one.
As you do so, existing operations should not be affected. However, incidences of process interruptions and reduced functionality are likely to occur. As such, knowledge in containerization and cluster cloud management will enable you to integrate legacy systems with new ones smoothly.
Virtualization refers to developing and running virtual instances in a simulated environment with access to the full scope of services users have. While this is going on, deployment is also tested in virtual live environments. DevOps teams can split large systems into smaller ones with virtualization, increasing the user capacity of a server.
It also enables the isolation of programs from different machines. Virtualization greatly increases the efficacy of testing, improves stability, and reduces deployment times. Therefore, understanding the basic concepts of public, private, and hybrid clouds will make your work as a DevOps engineer easy.
How to Become an Invaluable DevOps Engineer
Although the demand for DevOps engineers is high, to become indispensable in this career, you must pick up a wide range of skill sets. As you improve your skills, also work on establishing your personal brand in this field. This is what will set you apart from other candidates when interviewing for your dream job.
The DevOps ecosystem is robust and requires a wide range of professionals to ensure all the processes run smoothly. However, even if the roles vary, there are many functions and skills that overlap. As such, regardless of whether you want to become a developer, pick up skills that are not necessarily linked to your role but are crucial for DevOps.
This is especially important if you are in the early days of becoming a DevOps engineer. With a wide range of skills, you can support the DevOps process’s different functions, thus making you highly marketable, considering the shortage of DevOps engineers.
2. Build Your Personal Brand Through Community Involvement
When it comes to adding a new member to the team, organizations are becoming less reliant on the traditional method of hiring. Rather than getting people with the credentials required, HR teams delve deeper to find the unique skills and traits that each candidate has.
As such, recruitment for new roles begins long before the hiring phase. Therefore, as you build your skills and knowledge, you should also put them on display. There are many ways to achieve this, with the best being joining highly active DevOps communities. Such groups will give you the perfect platform to learn and showcase your skills.
Since such groups also have industry leaders, they will gain a sense of your DevOps expertise and approach you when openings arise. If you are not one for the occasional networking events, join online groups, or create a blog addressing all the DevOps challenges companies are facing.
The Demand for DevOps Engineers
Pursuing a career in DevOps has become a lucrative option for many people in the IT space. However, one credible concern that people have is whether this demand is sustainable. To understand this is, it is best to look at the industry as a whole.
As of 2017, the DevOps market size was $ 2.9 billion. Due to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24.7%, the sector is projected to have a market size of $10.31 billion by 2023. This growth is owed to an increase in demand, which is expected to continue rising, for the fast delivery of applications. As such, organizations will face a significant challenge with recruiting DevOps engineers to satisfy the demand adequately.
According to a 2019 skills report by the DevOps Institute, the roles that have the highest demand among respondents are:
- DevOps engineer- 39%
- Software engineer- 29%
- DevOps consultant- 22%
- Test engineer- 18%
- Automation architect- 17%
- Infrastructure engineer- 16%
- CI/CD engineer- 16%
Getting to Your Dream Job
Undoubtedly, there are plenty of opportunities in the DevOps space, and the salaries are enticing. To Penetrate this industry and position yourself as a DevOps specialist, you need to be strategic and committed to learning multiple aspects of the process.
Whether you are starting as a developer or at a junior level, take time to pick up skills for roles you are not necessarily angling for. This is how you gain a greater command of the entire DevOps process, making you invaluable.
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