Expert Roundup: DevOps Engineer Responsibilities

By Jenn Rogala

Last Updated: April 12th 2023

DevOps Engineers are in high demand.

According to CodinGame's 2023 State of Tech Hiring Survey, "DevOps is in the top three in demand skills recruiters want to hire."

At the time of this writing,  Indeed listed the average DevOps Engineer salary as $124,157, although this can be different depending on location and industry.

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So, What is DevOps?

DevOps is the combination of DEVelopment and OPerations in the software delivery process. It’s more of a philosophy than a science. DevOps removes the communication barriers between the professionals who develop the software, and those who deploy the software. The principles of DevOps advocate for close collaboration between these two groups. It removes the silos so that the process of software delivery is more efficient and consistent.

DevOps engineers deploy and monitor the software that the development teams have coded and tested.

Some of the responsibilities of DevOps engineers include software release automation, find and address software security vulnerabilities, monitor system performance, automate release scripts, and facilitate Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). CI/CD is usually implemented in Agile methodologies where the delivery of new software is released quickly and frequently.

There's no one way to become a DevOps Engineer:

You don’t have to be a software engineer to land a DevOps Engineer job. Depending on the company, DevOps certifications may be required. While other businesses see certifications as nice-to-haves but prefer experience – practice over theory.

Some certifications to consider relate to Agile methodologies and cloud computing. Amazon Web Services is the most popular. But Google and Microsoft also have cloud computing platforms. You don’t have to know all of them. It’s better to learn one well, because the concepts between the three are similar.

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What DevOps skills and tools are optional or essential?

DevOps Engineer Responsibilities - Tools

Tech Republic has a nice article describing the most frequently used tools by DevOps Engineers.

DevOps Engineer Expert Round-up:

We asked several DevOps engineers about the work they do.

The professionals we spoke to span industries from Amazon to Walmart.

What led you to a career as a DevOps engineer?

Alira Coffman - Amazon

My career as a DevOps engineer happened by accident. On smaller teams, you must be cross functional. There was an area left unfilled, and that responsibility fell on members of the engineering team. That is where I ended up picking that niche up.

Hollis Jamison – Strategic Solutions Group

I came from a 10-year career doing IT at MSPs and then learned how to code at a bootcamp. I fell in love with software development and wanted to transition to a career in it, however my level of experience in IT made it hard financially to justify moving to a junior web development role. I then learned of DevOps and how it can combine my love for software development and knowledge in IT and so I moved in that direction and I'm very happy I did.

Anup Chitrakar – Ciena Corporation

As a developer, you want your code to be verified before going into production. Therefore, as a DevOps engineer, it’s nice to have an automated Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline.

What technical skills are required to succeed as a DevOps engineer?

Alira Coffman - Amazon

To be a successful DevOps Engineer the main skill that I think is most important is the ability to siphon through documentation quickly and efficiently. And then apply that information directly to what you are doing.

Hollis Jamison Strategic Solutions Group

Linux is by far the most important thing you need in most DevOps roles. You need to be a master of Git, Cloud technologies (AWS, Azure, GCP), knowledge of the software development lifecycle, and an interest in security is very helpful so you know why we do so much testing and vulnerability management in DevOps pipelines.

Jonathan Reeves - Walmart

Knowing how to write scripts is essential. Knowledge of cloud systems as well as using the terminal are essential. Being able to SSH into a server is very key.

Anup Chitrakar Ciena Corporation

Version Control (GIT), Build Automation Tools such as Jenkins, TeamCity, or even GitLab these days, Docker, Python, bash scripting.

Hollis Jamison Strategic Solutions Group

Try to learn one cloud deeply rather than all 3. One will make you hirable since all 3 have the same concepts. AWS is most widely used.

  • Linux server mgmt.
  • Ci/Cd essentials
  • Docker
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Config mgmt.
  • Agile

Anonymous

To deal with infrastructure, a DevOps engineer needs to be well acquainted with operating systems, security, database maintenance, networking, testing, issue tracking/management, release management, and many, many, many other things.

A DevOps engineer might also be called upon to help with debugging applications or analyzing performance issues. So ideally a DevOps engineer is acquainted with various programming languages, log maintenance/analysis, debugging techniques, and performance analysis techniques.

What types of projects do you work on as a DevOps Engineer?

Alira Coffman Amazon

I worked in a DevOps capacity in a variety of industries: Automotive, Mobile Applications, Restaurant, Legal, Bail Bonds, Medical, Etc.

Hollis Jamison Strategic Solutions Group

Our company specializes in assisting government health agencies with fully managed development of healthcare applications. Immunization record management, disease surveillance, early childhood intervention, and vital health record management are some of the types of projects I work on. Mostly all use Java on the backend and JavaScript/React.

Jonathan Reeves Walmart

I work on configuring cloud native apps with Docker and Kubernetes.

Anonymous

All this responsibility also means that DevOps engineers are involved in system upgrades and are often called upon to respond to problems. This means that DevOps is a 24/7 job. So, depending upon the role, most DevOps engineers are - at least periodically - required to work late at night. And ideally a DevOps engineer is someone that can interact calmly in panicked/stressful situations.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career as a DevOps engineer?

Alira Coffman Amazon

Projects. Projects. Projects. The best thing you can do is hands-on projects.

Rex Osariemen Amazon

I would suggest they start by learning at least one programming language because infrastructure is now being provisioned with code rather than having IT professionals do the job Become very familiar with most offerings by Cloud Computing Services like AWS and how to work with those services Professional certificates in AWS would be very great. Certification like 'Solution Architect, and DevOps Professional' would be ideal.

Hollis Jamison Strategic Solutions Group

I would advise anyone who wants to move into DevOps to learn at least a little bit about software development, it's hard to know what to enable for your developers with DevOps unless you've been in their shoes. I would highly encourage anyone with an IT background to first learn simple web development before learning DevOps tools.

Jonathan Reeves - Walmart

Definitely want to continue working on learning how computers work. Understanding networking concepts is important. Scripting is another important concept.

Key Takeaways:

DevOps is an interesting and important job that is in high demand in many industries.

Collaboration between development and operations teams facilitates the delivery of high-quality software faster, with more efficiency and consistency.

As technologies and the digital economy evolve. DevOps is becoming a critical piece of the Software Development Lifecycle.

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Jenn Rogala

Senior Writer

Jennifer Rogala has worked in the area of healthcare technology for 30 years. Most of her publications were on the topic of how medical technology can improve patient safety. It wasn't until she became a mother that she started writing stories for children. From their infancy her twin daughters loved books. Seeing the joy books gave to her children inspired Jennifer to attempt to create this joy herself and share it with others. Jennifer lives outside of Boston with her twin daughters, and calico cat.