DevOps is hot right now. The demand for professionals with the skills to bridge the gap between software development and information technology operations is growing significantly.
It's not difficult to understand why. DevOps is a methodology that optimizes processes, removes barriers, and improves collaboration between software developers and information technology (IT) operations teams. Because of its benefits, it's becoming an increasingly attractive option for IT professionals who want to stand out from the crowd.
In this blog post, you will learn about the types of roles available in DevOps, how you can land your first DevOps job, and what you need to succeed in your new role as a DevOps engineer or specialist.
What Is DevOps?
DevOps is short for "software development operations." It describes a set of best practices related to transforming the relationship between software developers and information technology (IT) operations personnel.
DevOps aims to improve collaboration, increase efficiency, and reduce waste. This organizational transformation is commonly referred to as cultural transformation.
Achieving cultural transformation requires employees in both departments to change their perspectives and expectations of each other. This is why DevOps is often seen as an ongoing journey, not a destination. DevOps is often associated with agile software development methodologies, such as Kanban, Scrum, and others.
What do DevOps Engineers do Day to Day?
A day in the life of DevOps engineers is not all that different than a day in any other technology career. A DevOps Engineer's primary responsibility is centered around the health of the systems under their supervision. Those activities will include:
- Look for anomalies: Despite our best efforts trying to completely cover a system in monitoring and visibility, sometimes things go bump in the night. These things could be reported by end users or other business units. Anytime something like that shows up, a DevOps Engineer should chase those anomalies down to something actionable.
- Review new releases: Just because you have an awesome pipeline that utilizes GitOps to move code directly from commit to production does not mean that you should trust your technology stack. Take time daily to review what has been making its way out to production to both understand the changes, but also suggest improvements.
- Review observability: Metrics and monitoring don't do any good if nobody is looking at them. Anyone from systems administration through product owners should be reviewing these frequently looking for trends. Real-world usage of a system will always be different than what we thought it was going to be in the engineering phase and we should be validating, disproving, or augmenting our base assertions through data-driven decision-making.
- Manage risks: Successful systems grow over time. DevOps engineers should be looking at a complete ecosystem to help promote long-term health and manage risk. There is no free lunch and growing capacity means that costs will also be going up. Helping the team understand this relationship and educating the product owners of the business on investment opportunities is a critical activity that cannot be overlooked.
- Communicate with the team: Being in constant communication with your team is one of the core principles of DevOps. Since work units are broken down much farther than normal, rapid change is constantly being introduced. By promoting good synchronous and asynchronous communication patterns, teams will stay informed about what is important and urgent along with ensuring everyone is able to consume less urgent current events at their leisure.
- Watch industry trends: Because of the speed that a DevOps team brings to the industry, trends and patterns are changing faster than ever. When looking to become a DevOps engineer, you should be ready to keep your RSS feeds hot and ready to consume.
- Log new tickets: As you are doing your daily surveys of systems, undoubtedly you will run across either existing issues or issues that are sure to crop up in the near future. To help promote good planning, ensure that you are logging tickets into your ticket management system to ensure those issues do not get lost.
- Develop the skills you need: DevOps engineers are lifelong learners. The specific practices of cloud, data, coding, Linux, programming, AWS, culture, web, Kubernetes, tools, etc. are constantly being changed to promote more fluid delivery models. Take time to sit back and absorb new concepts and techniques to help level up your career and your team.
- Promote continuous improvement: Any tech company that is not embracing a culture of continuous improvement will quickly be outperformed by companies that do. By taking a little bit of time out of your day to focus on improving something that needs attention, you are contributing to a cleaner and safer technology product!
- Have some fun: DevOps doesn't need to be a grind. Make it a point to leave work behind and have some fun with your team.
As you can see, DevOps Engineers have a lot of responsibility for running and maintaining technology.
Types of Jobs in DevOps
DevOps is a methodology that requires several different disciplines to fully adopt and become proficient in. In my opinion, I don't think anyone technical should be asking "Can I become a DevOps Engineer?" because you are more than likely already qualified to be one! Let's look at a few different roles in DevOps to see how the market is segmenting labor in this space.
- Software Engineer: Software engineers are responsible for building software products and services against a set of requirements. This role usually has some kind of computer science background, but some of the best developers and engineers I have met started their careers with no formal degree.
- Operations Engineer: Responsible for managing the lifecycle of technology ensuring the stability and reliability of systems. Anyone with a passion for learning technology and growing in the tech space should be searching the job market for entry-level operations jobs.
- Quality Assurance: Responsible for validating the quality of software being developed through automated testing. Also responsible for making testing available to an entire DevOps team.
- DevOps Engineer: Let's start with the basics. If you're looking to work as a DevOps engineer, you'll need to be able to understand and work with code, have an excellent knowledge of server environments, and be able to think on the fly and find solutions to new problems.
- DevOps Engineer Manager: In this capacity, you'll need to be able to work with both technical and non-technical staff. You'll be responsible for ensuring that the team is working effectively and efficiently. So, it goes without saying that you'll need strong communication skills.
- DevOps architect: A DevOps architect is responsible for designing and implementing the organization's software delivery system. This is often a challenging role that requires a great deal of experience, knowledge, and a strong understanding of organizational needs.
- DevOps Manager: As a DevOps manager, you'll be responsible for overseeing the entire DevOps process, including hiring, training, and managing staff. You'll need to be able to understand and communicate the needs of multiple stakeholders. You'll also need to be able to manage the entire lifecycle of products, from development to delivery and ongoing maintenance.
As you can see, normal everyday engineering roles can join a DevOps team. Don't immediately exclude yourself because you have not been a DevOps engineer in the past. Most of us have started out in software engineering or system operations roles anyway.
How to Land a DevOps Job Without a Degree
In today's job market, it is not enough to just have a good education and experience from your previous job. You must also know how to write a resume that highlights your skills and experience in a way that shows you as the best candidate for the job.
This can be done by taking some time to research and learn about the particular industry you are interested in working in, as well as the company and the specific role you want to apply for.
When you have this information in hand, you can then create a resume that places your skills, experience, and values at the top of the list. This will make it easy for hiring managers to see what makes you different than other candidates and more likely to be hired.
With these things in mind, it is important to keep your resume updated as new jobs become available. You should also stay on top of employment trends so that you are ready when opportunities arise. By doing this, you will increase your chances of landing an interview and ultimately getting hired.
Here are a few additional steps you can take to increase your odds of landing a DevOps Engineering position:
- Research the role you want: Blindly showing up to a job interview for a DevOps position is not going to go well. Take some time to learn and understand the DevOps methodology and what it is trying to accomplish. Any of the technical skills needed can be acquired on the job so do let that be a limiting factor.
- Network: The single best way to land a job in DevOps without a degree is to network, network, network. It's one of the most effective ways to find out about new opportunities, learn about the industry, and connect with people who can help you advance your career.
- Identify Your Skills: Before you can network effectively, you need to know what your skills are. Doing this will help you identify which organizations are best for you, as well as identify skill gaps. Furthermore, it will help you understand how to position yourself as the best candidate for a given role.
- Get certified: Another way to demonstrate your expertise is to get certified in a DevOps-related technology or methodology. There are many certification programs available, such as those offered by AWS, Azure, and Red Hat.
- Join a DevOps Community: DevOps communities, like meetup groups and online forums, are excellent ways to find out about new opportunities and connect with people who can help you advance your career.
- Create an Online Portfolio: Online portfolios can be incredibly powerful tools for job seekers without a degree. You should include examples of your work and information about your projects and roles.
- Gain experience through internships or apprenticeships: Many companies offer internships or apprenticeships for aspiring DevOps professionals. These programs can provide you with valuable hands-on experience and help you build a network of industry contacts.
- Network with Employers: When you're networking with employers, don't sell yourself short. Be sure to highlight your skills, background, and experience.
Regardless of your experience in development and operations, if you have any kind of tech experience, you should be looking to land a job in the DevOps engineering space. Entry-level positions are generally going to be a bit more focused on operations.
How to Become a DevOps Engineer Without Experience?
If you want to become a DevOps engineer but don't have any experience in the field, there are several steps you can take to get started:
Learn the basics: Start by learning the foundational concepts and technologies that are used in DevOps, such as:
- Knowledge of version control systems (e.g. Git)
- Experience with continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) tools and practices
- Proficiency in one or more programming language (e.g. Python, Java, C#)
- Familiarity with infrastructure as code (IaC) tools (e.g. Terraform, CloudFormation)
- Experience with containerization technologies (e.g. Docker, Kubernetes)
- Knowledge of cloud computing platforms (e.g. AWS, Azure, GCP)
- Familiarity with monitoring and logging tools (e.g. Splunk, New Relic)
- Experience with automated testing and deployment strategies
- Strong communication and collaboration skills
Gain practical experience: The best way to learn DevOps is to get hands-on experience by working on projects. There are several ways you can gain practical experience, such as:
- Work on open source projects: One way to gain practical experience is to contribute to open source projects. This can involve fixing bugs, adding new features, or improving documentation.
- Build your own projects: Another way to gain experience is to work on your own projects. This could be a simple web application, a service, or a tool that you build from scratch.
- Participate in online hackathons or coding challenges: Online hackathons and coding challenges are a great way to get hands-on experience and learn from others.
- Take on internships or apprenticeships: Many companies offer internships or apprenticeships for aspiring DevOps professionals. These programs can provide you with valuable hands-on experience and help you build a network of industry contacts.
- Join a study group or peer learning community: Consider joining a study group or peer learning community to learn and collaborate with others who are also interested in DevOps.
Build a strong portfolio: As you gain experience, start building a portfolio of projects you have worked on. This can include open-source contributions, personal projects, or projects you have completed as part of a boot camp or online course. A strong portfolio can help you stand out when applying for DevOps jobs.
- Contribute to open source projects: One way to demonstrate your skills and experience is to contribute to open source projects. This can involve fixing bugs, adding new features, or improving documentation.
- Build your own projects: Another way to build a portfolio is to work on your own projects. This could be a simple web application, a service, or a tool that you build from scratch.
- Work on a real-world project: If you have the opportunity to work on a real-world project, either as part of a team or as an individual, consider documenting your work and adding it to your portfolio. This could include creating diagrams, writing technical documentation, or creating video demonstrations of your work.
- Build a personal website: A personal website is a great way to showcase your portfolio and share your skills and experience with potential employers. Consider including information about your background, your skills and experience, and links to any projects or code you have worked on.
- Create a resume: A well-written resume is an important part of any portfolio. Make sure to include information about your education, skills, and experience, as well as any relevant projects or certifications.
Get certified: Another way to demonstrate your expertise is to get certified in a DevOps-related technology or methodology. There are many certification programs available, such as those offered by AWS, Azure, and Red Hat.
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer: This certification is designed for professionals who have experience with the design, development, and management of systems on the AWS platform.
- Azure DevOps Engineer Expert: This certification is for professionals who have expertise in the design and implementation of continuous integration, continuous delivery, and dependency management using Azure DevOps.
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA): This certification is for professionals who have experience with installing, configuring, and managing Kubernetes clusters.
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM): This certification is for professionals who have experience with the Scrum framework and its principles and practices.
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation: This certification is for professionals who have experience with the Ansible automation platform and its use in the deployment and management of infrastructure and applications.
Network and build relationships: Building relationships and networking with other professionals in the DevOps community can help you learn about job opportunities and increase your chances of getting hired. Attend meetups, join online communities, and reach out to professionals in the field to learn more about their experiences and get advice.
- Attend meetups and conferences: One of the best ways to meet other professionals in the DevOps community is to attend meetups and conferences. These events provide opportunities to learn about new technologies and best practices, as well as to meet and connect with other professionals.
- Join online communities: There are many online communities and forums, such as Reddit, LinkedIn, and Stack Exchange, where you can connect with other professionals and ask questions or share your knowledge.
- Participate in online courses or boot camps: Online courses and boot camps are a great way to learn new skills and connect with other professionals who are interested in the same topics.
- Volunteer or mentor others: Volunteering or mentoring others can be a great way to give back to the community and build relationships. You can volunteer your time to organizations or mentor others who are just starting out in the field.
- Build a personal website or blog: A personal website or blog is a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with others. Consider writing about your experiences, projects, or challenges you have faced and how you overcame them.
Remember, becoming a DevOps engineer requires a combination of technical skills and practical experience. It may take time and effort to gain the necessary skills and experience, but with dedication and hard work, you can achieve your goal of becoming a DevOps engineer.
3 Steps to Landing Any Job You Want
If you're looking to find a job, landing any kind of position is a big deal. You can start by proactively searching for the positions you want, or by going through a recruiter or headhunter if they have a specific role you're interested in.
When you land a new job, you have to be prepared for all kinds of situations. You might have to move across the country if the company has an office there, and you may also have to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities.
Making yourself ready for these situations can help you land any kind of job. For example, you could build up your résumé and online presence by completing online courses or volunteering at local organizations. This will show that you are ready for a new position and will also make it easier to find work once you are ready.
Another option is to join professional organizations like Toastmasters or other networking groups where you can meet people who can help you land a new job. Just remember: Landing any kind of job takes time, so be prepared by taking steps now that will make it easier in the future!
- Define What You Want: Before you embark on your job search, you need to make an honest assessment of what you want. Do you want a full-time position, or will a contract position work for you? How many hours do you want to work per week? What is your salary range? These are just a few of the questions you'll need to answer.
- Identify Your Strengths: Once you've identified what you want, you need to assess what you have to offer. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? This will help you identify which employers will be best for you.
- Write a Great Resume: Once you've assessed your skills and talents, you need to translate them into action for your resume. This is your first opportunity to impress a prospective employer.
Why do Employers Value Degrees?
In the job market, it is no secret that you will very frequently see X level of degree or equivalent experience. I have noticed that this will generally disenfranchise individuals who are in the tech space from searching for a job at a particular company.
As a hiring manager, I am generally looking for individuals who have an aptitude and are lifelong learners for any of the jobs I am looking to fill. People who are passionate about quality delivery, consistency, and passionate about personal development are always great candidates. When looking for a new job, make sure you focus on those key areas about yourself to really wow a future employer.
Employers are also interested in standardized skills in software development, computer science, cloud, systems administration, etc. When someone graduates from higher education in the United States, there is a general sense that those individuals have learned and developed themselves enough to be effective from day 1, which is rarely the case in my experience.
A Junior DevOps engineer position can be filled by anyone who is passionate about automation, CI/CD, cloud, programming, Linux, AWS, and other technical spaces regardless of their background. The key is to do your research and understand the goals of what DevOps is trying to accomplish and make sure you are ready for interview questions about the DevOps Methodology.
When I am evaluating candidates, I bank on people first, not their skills. Even someone who may appear weak in a particular technology may be an incredible person that I want to work with. Some companies take the far more brutal leger-based approach on this. By only interviewing candidates who have a college degree, they are able to defer some of the cost of training. I would argue that is not a company that I want to work for.
There is an old saying, "Nobody ever gets fired for choosing IBM". This translates into, if you are choosing the best, there is no reason for anyone to second guess your decisions. A degree has a similar stigma behind it. If a hiring manager is betting on someone with a degree, they probably won't regret their decision. As a candidate, you just need to make sure you give a prospective employer a reason to bet on you.
TLDR; Standardized skills, training, problem-solving, and risk mitigation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions about becoming a DevOps Engineer:
Do You Need a Degree to be a DevOps Engineer?
A degree is not always required to become a DevOps engineer. Employers may prioritize skills and experience over formal education, so it is possible to enter the field through self-learning, bootcamps, certifications, or practical experience.
Can you become a DevOps engineer without a degree?
Absolutely! DevOps is a multifaceted technology-focused field of work. If you have skills in technology from QA through Software Development and beyond; you should be applying for DevOps jobs today!
How do I become a DevOps engineer without a degree?
DevOps is about the flow of value being delivered with technology. Study the concepts of DevOps and the goals it is trying to achieve.
How Do I Get Into DevOps With no Experience?
To get into DevOps with no experience, start by learning the fundamentals of programming, operating systems, and cloud computing. Familiarize yourself with DevOps tools and practices, build your own projects, contribute to open source projects, and seek out internships or entry-level positions in the field.
Can I Get a DevOps Job With No Experience?
It may be difficult to get a DevOps job with no experience, but not impossible. Employers may be willing to hire candidates who have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of programming, operating systems, and cloud computing, along with a willingness to learn and a passion for the field. Building your own projects, contributing to open source projects, and seeking out internships or entry-level positions can also help you gain experience and increase your chances of landing a DevOps job.
If you want a job as a DevOps Engineer, you'll need to be prepared to show what you have to offer and sell yourself to prospective employers. Remember, though, that there are many different types of jobs in DevOps.
So, before you start your search, it's important to understand what you are looking for and how to stand out in a competitive hiring landscape. If you want a job in DevOps, you'll need to be prepared to show what you have to offer and sell yourself to prospective employers.
Remember, though, that there are many different types of jobs in DevOps: DevOps engineer, architect, engineer manager, and manager. Target what you want to be doing, and start applying. You are probably more qualified than you initially thought!