DevOps is currently one of the most in-demand tech roles out there, with only approximately 25-30,000 DevOps Engineers working in the UK. As a continuously evolving sector, there are plenty of opportunities available, exciting projects to work on and the potential for highly paid salaries.
Implementing DevOps often provides challenges for organisations to overcome, one of which is the lack of skills required of employees. A DevOps Engineer plays a key role in implementing a DevOps restructuring, and as such, the role requires a number of vital skills that span development and operations. Interpersonal skills are also valuable for a DevOps Engineer to bridge the gaps between siloed teams.
Does this sound like the role for you? Find out more about what working as a DevOps Engineer entails, your day-to-day responsibilities and the skills you’ll need to get started.
In this article we’ll cover:
- What is a DevOps Engineer?
- What does a DevOps Engineer do?
- DevOps Architect roles and responsibilities
- DevOps Project Manager roles and responsibilities
- Who employs DevOps Engineers?
- Key skills required for DevOps Engineers
- What qualifications do you need to become a DevOps Engineer?
- DevOps Engineer job prospects & graduate programmes
What is a DevOps Engineer?
A DevOps Engineer is an IT professional who has a broad knowledge and skill set to complete both development and operations duties. Working as a DevOps Engineer, you will help bridge the gap between development and operations, two typically siloed teams, and solidify the implementation of DevOps within an organisation.
DevOps Engineers require versatile skill sets to create a collaborative working environment while fulfilling the technical requirements of the job, including coding, interpersonal skills and infrastructure management.
As a DevOps Engineer, you must have a strong understanding of the following:
- Common system architecture
- Code reviews (giving and receiving)
- Source Control
- Writing unit tests
What does a DevOps Engineer do?
As you may already know, DevOps is a set of working practices and processes designed to improve and automate elements of the software development life cycle, to boost efficiency and quality. DevOps Engineers play a key role in running this, straddling both a technical and operational position, which may involve coding as well as elements of project management.
DevOps Architect roles and responsibilities
- Setting up new development infrastructure
- Liaising with stakeholders and communicating requirements to developers
- Automate development and release processes using the DevOps tools
- Testing code
- Implementing security measures to protect against cyber threats
- Monitoring technical operations and identifying issues
- Providing fixes to defects and implementing updates
- Establishing development processes to streamline development and deployment
- Taking part in planning and project management
DevOps Project Manager roles and responsibilities
DevOps Project Managers are key to a smooth process, driving team members for increased productivity towards a common goal. In addition to the responsibilities listed above, DevOps Project Managers will also be expected to fulfil the following duties:
- Overseeing the implementation and deployment of DevOps processes
- Managing DevOps teams and assigning tasks
- Planning, building and testing technical solutions
- Conducting analysis and approving new code
Who employs DevOps Engineers?
DevOps Engineers are in-demand across a wide range of businesses. However, the typical employers of DevOps Engineers include:
- Software development companies
- Broadcasters and telecommunications companies
- Any company that manages websites
- Tech consultancies
- Organisations in the public sector
Working in DevOps, you could see yourself working for some of the biggest companies in the world, including the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Adobe and HP - to name a few.
Key skills required for DevOps Engineers
There are a variety of skills required for DevOps Engineers, including a range of soft and hard skills, such as:
- Communication & collaboration
- Self-motivation & proactive approach
- Proficiency in DevOps tools
- Coding & scripting
- DevSecOps skills
- Automation skills
- Testing skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Project management skills
1. Communication & collaboration
DevOps Engineers must be able to communicate and collaborate with their teams effectively, however, these skills are often overlooked. These two skills are imperative to help break down the silos between development and operations teams and align end goals organisation-wide. The successful implementation of DevOps typically relies on feedback from all teams involved.
2. Self-motivation & proactive approach
DevOps Engineers should be motivated individuals who are always ready to learn. It’s vital that they demonstrate a proactive approach and lead by example to encourage isolated teams to work more innovatively.
3. Problem-solving skills
You’ll likely encounter problems on a daily basis, such as inconsistent environments and limited transparency over manual processes, and you will need a strategic mindset to solve these. Some of the issues you may encounter could require a logical approach, whereas others may require you to think outside the box.
Working in DevOps, you will be required to be flexible and adapt to changing requirements. DevOps Engineers will need to take on customer feedback and fix bugs, as and when they are required. The ability to adapt to flexible ways of working is highly preferable when being considered for this role.
5. Proficiency in DevOps tools
An understanding of the relevant DevOps tools used within the company you are working for is crucial. This includes version control tools, continuation integration servers, configuration management, deployment automation, Cloud, network protocol and more.
6. Coding & scripting
You should have a strong understanding of coding and scripting languages, such as Python, Java, Ruby and Node. An ideal candidate should be able to write automation scripts and have an understanding of advanced software development practices. If you know how to implement agile development practices like code reviews, that’s a bonus too!
7. DevSecOps skills
This stands for development, security and operations, and is an approach for integrating security across the entire software development life cycle.
8. Automation skills
Automation is at the core of DevOps and, as such, DevOps Engineers should be able to automate the entire DevOps process from start to finish.
9. Testing skills
DevOps automation pipelines are reliant on testing to ensure that they run without defects. Automated continuous testing is key to efficient fixes, high-quality products and customer satisfaction.
10. Interpersonal skills
You will be dealing with a variety of stakeholders, such as developers, project managers and customers, so you should be able to communicate effectively, using active listening and emotional intelligence.
11. Project management skills
A DevOps Engineer is typically required to have experience in leading projects, as well as managing schedules that align teams. You will need to demonstrate the initiative to lead the projects forward and overcome any obstacles that may arise.
If you’re preparing to enter a role in DevOps, check out our DevOps interview advice.
What qualifications do you need to become a DevOps Engineer?
Typically, to become a DevOps Engineer, you will require a degree in a relevant discipline, such as a technical or STEM degree. In some cases, applicants may even require a master’s degree for some roles. Next, you will usually be expected to obtain the appropriate professional qualifications, which could include training in DevOps, Agile methodologies or particular technologies, such as AWS or Azure.
DevOps Engineer job prospects & graduate programmes
However, that all being said, there are alternative routes to becoming a DevOps Engineer, which do not require you to have a relevant degree or professional qualifications beforehand.
The FDM Technical Graduate Programme offers keen graduates, from any field and university, the opportunity to start their career in DevOps. The programme combines expert training, practical experience and a two-year work placement with industry-leading companies. From then onwards, the sky's the limit. Find out what you will learn on FDM’s new DevOps training programme.
As a growing industry and an ever-evolving practice, a role in DevOps provides a wealth of opportunities for professional development, possibilities to learn and a future-proof career. So, you may start with a DevOps graduate programme but gain access to a variety of DevOps career prospects, such as:
- DevOps Test Engineer
- DevOps Cloud Engineer
- Automation Engineer
- DevOps Architect
- Security Engineer
- Integration Specialist
- DevOps Manager