How to Become a DevOps Engineer

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Although employers may define the role differently, a good working definition of a DevOps engineer is a technical professional who follows a software development strategy that integrates development and operations. The chief responsibility of a DevOps engineer is to oversee software code releases to achieve organizational goals.

To become a DevOps engineer, you’ll need technical and interpersonal skills. This skill set can be the catalyst to breaking down the communication and operational barriers that have traditionally existed in information technology (IT) organizations — between the development and IT operations teams as well as other functional teams — resulting in slow software deployments that have put companies at risk of losing their competitive advantage.

You’ll have to understand IT operations’ and system administrators’ responsibilities and promote a software’s successful performance to internal and external customers. That means you’ll have to effectively communicate with the sales and marketing department.

DevOps engineers in business attire sit together at a desk and look at a computer monitor

What Does a DevOps Engineer Do?

DevOps engineers don’t just write code. They must also be able to implement automation tools and technologies throughout the software development life cycle. Additionally, these IT professionals are responsible for automating business processes to improve operations, in part by responding more quickly to requests for changes from customers.

DevOps engineers build out and manage IT infrastructures and provide support for their users. They may supervise and collaborate with the development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) team to improve a company’s infrastructure security.

DevOps Engineer Job Description

DevOps engineers often work closely with software engineers to assist them in deploying various systems. DevOps engineers have a variety of responsibilities, such as implementing changes requested by customers or managerial staff, deploying updates and fixes, and in some cases, providing technical support.

Other DevOps engineer responsibilities may include:

  • Deploying updates and fixes
  • Writing scripts and automation using various programming languages, such as Python,  Java, and Ruby
  • Performing root-cause analysis of production errors
  • Developing automation scripts
  • Performing technical investigations
  • Developing and implementing solutions for technical issues

Steps to Become a DevOps Engineer

There are several steps you should take to become a DevOps engineer. Here’s an overview of how you might proceed down this career path.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

If you’re interested in becoming a DevOps engineer, you’ll have to earn a bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to computer science, math, or electronics engineering. For example, the online Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems (MIS) program at Maryville University aims to teach students how to use logical thinking to solve problems.

An MIS degree will teach you skills to succeed in various IT careers. You’ll learn how to apply these skills to start a business or improve the operations of an existing business.

In a typical MIS course, you’ll learn how to design information systems, which companies like eBay and rely upon, as well as develop project management skills to ensure that you’ll be able to successfully implement those systems. An MIS degree program typically includes an internship or a final project, enabling you to take what you’ve learned and use it in a real-world setting.

Step 2: Earn a Master’s Degree

If you wish to advance your career as a DevOps engineer, you may want to earn a master’s degree. A master’s program, such as the online master’s in software development program at Maryville University, can prepare you to become a top-notch DevOps engineer. If you’re a working IT professional, an online master’s program is a good way to balance your career and your education, as you may be able to finish this master’s program in only a year.

A master’s degree in software development curriculum offers courses to help you build your skills in the various aspects of software development, such as coding and emerging technologies like augmented reality.

Step 3: Acquire the Necessary Skills

Having deep technical skills is relevant to employers looking for DevOps engineers. Some competencies that can help you stand out include the following:

  • Knowledge of open-source tools like Puppet and Ansible
  • The ability to write scripts using Python and other programming languages
  • A thorough understanding of continuous integration

Additionally, employers are looking for candidates with soft skills, including excellent interpersonal and organizational skills and the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time.

DevOps Engineer Skills

Aspiring DevOps engineers must develop a number of skills to succeed in this career path. However, as the field is constantly changing, professionals in this career must be willing to learn new things. Sample DevOps engineer skills include:

  • Coding
  • Collaboration
  • Scripting
  • Cloud computing
  • Understanding how automation tools and technologies work
  • Network and software security
  • Refined software testing
  • Interpersonal and communication
  • Problem-solving and decision-making

DevOps Engineer Salaries

PayScale reports that as of March 17, 2020, the median annual salary for a DevOps engineer was recorded at $94,000, although earners in the 10th percentile reported annual compensation in excess of $135,000.

Salaries also vary widely by location and company. For example, PayScale further indicates that salary survey respondents from reported annual earnings of approximately $120,436, whereas respondents from Booz Allen Hamilton reported an average salary of $92,034. PayScale also indicates that DevOps engineers in New York receive an average annual salary of $109,836, whereas those in Denver are compensated at approximately $98,249 per year.

DevOps Engineer Career Path

The DevOps career path is often lucrative, as annual compensation levels increase sharply based on years of experience. For example, data from PayScale indicates that as of March 17, 2020,  the average annual salary for a DevOps engineer with less than one year of experience was $73,175, whereas the average annual salary for a DevOps engineer with five to nine years’ experience was $101,910.  Professionals with 20 or more years of experience earn an average of $126,923 per year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for software developers, which includes DevOps engineers, is projected to increase by 21% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than growth projections for all other occupations.

Part of the expected growth will be driven by the need to develop new applications for tablets and smartphones.

Learn More About Becoming a DevOps Engineer

If you love to learn and are more interested in the process than the product, a career as a DevOps engineer may be right for you. Working in this field can be extremely satisfying, as it provides opportunities to integrate forward-thinking technologies that can help companies conduct business more efficiently.

Now that you’re familiar with what DevOps engineers do and how to become one, you can take the next step and explore how the online master’s in software development program at Maryville University can help you with the necessary skills to succeed in this rewarding career.

Recommended Reading

The Future of Programming and the Top Languages Programmers Should Know

The Top Benefits of Being a Software Development Degree Holder

Online Master’s in Software Development Curriculum


Computer Business Review, “7 Skills Every DevOps Engineer Must Have”

Grand View Research, DevOps Market Size Worth $12.85 Billion by 2025, CAGR: 18.60%

Indeed, Development Operations Engineer Salaries in the United States

Maryville University, Master’s in Software Development Online

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems Curriculum

Maryville University, Online Master’s in Software Development Curriculum

PayScale, Average Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer Salary

PayScale, Average Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer Salary in New York, New York

Squadex, “Ten Skills Every DevOps Engineer Must Have for Success”

TechRepublic, “How to Become a DevOps Engineer: A Cheat Sheet”

TechTarget, Continuous Integration

TechTarget, DevOps Engineer

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers

Workable, DevOps Engineer Job Description