Essential DevOps Engineer Skills: Navigating the Required Path
In this article
In today's fast-paced and competitive tech industry, DevOps engineers play a vital role in ensuring smooth and efficient software development and delivery processes. These professionals possess a unique combination of technical proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail.
To thrive in this challenging field, DevOps engineers need to master a specific set of essential skills. Let's explore the top skills for DevOps engineers that pave the way for a successful DevOps career.
1. Linux Fundamentals Knowledge
Linux Fundamentals Knowledge is the first of many DevOps Engineer skills needed because of its widespread use as the preferred operating system for DevOps hosting applications. Understanding Linux plays a vital role in seamless application deployment and configuration management.
Most configuration management tools, such as Ansible, Chef, or Puppet, have their master nodes running on Linux. So, by possessing Linux Fundamentals Knowledge, DevOps Engineers can navigate and troubleshoot Linux-based systems.
These fundamentals include system administration, file handling, process management, and text processing. This basic understanding helps in more complex tasks like managing servers, deploying software, and monitoring performance.
Familiarity with Linux allows DevOps Engineers to leverage the wide range of open-source tools and utilities available for system administration and automation.
2. Knowledge of Relevant Tools and Technologies
Various tools and technologies that are integral to the DevOps skills required to succeed across industries. These tools and technologies help streamline the software development lifecycle, automate infrastructure management, and ensure smooth deployments. Here are just a few tools you might consider from the DevOps engineer skills list:
- Version Control: DevOps engineers need to be proficient in version control systems like Git or SVN.
- Continuous Integration Servers: Continuous integration (CI) servers, such as Jenkins or Travis CI, automate building, testing, and deploying code changes.
- Configuration Management: Configuration management tools like Ansible, Chef, or Puppet help automate the provisioning, configuration, and management of infrastructure.
- Containers and Deployment Automation: Knowledge of containerization platforms like Docker and container orchestration tools like Kubernetes is essential for DevOps engineers.
- Infrastructure Orchestration: Tools for infrastructure orchestration tools such as Terraform or CloudFormation.
- Testing and Cloud Quality Tools: DevOps engineers need to understand testing frameworks and tools such as Selenium or JUnit for automating testing processes. Knowledge of cloud quality tools like SonarQube or JMeter helps ensure application quality and performance in cloud environments.
- Monitoring and Analytics: Proficiency in monitoring tools like Nagios, Splunk, or Prometheus is crucial for DevOps engineers.
- Network Protocols: DevOps engineers must have a good understanding of network protocols, such as TCP/IP, DNS, or HTTPS. Knowledge of these protocols helps troubleshoot network issues and ensure secure communication between different components of the infrastructure.
These tools are just some of the required skills for DevOps engineers. There are some more industry-specific skills we don’t mention on this list.
3. Cloud Skills
In the modern IT landscape, businesses are leveraging the power of cloud computing to meet their infrastructure needs. It's crucial to possess a deep understanding of different cloud providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP.
Learn more about AWS DevOps Roles and Responsibilities
Cloud systems offer the ability to provide and manage infrastructure resources on-demand. Developers can automate their deployment pipelines, ensure high availability, and scale their applications on the cloud. These days, the cloud environment represents some of the key skills for DevOps Engineers.
Cloud skills enable DevOps engineers to implement continuous monitoring practices. They can use cloud-based monitoring tools to collect and analyze real-time data, detect performance issues, and respond to incidents. This ensures optimal application performance and maximizes customer satisfaction.
4. Coding Skills
When asking “what skills does a DevOps engineer need,” coding is the first thing that comes to mind. DevOps engineers can leverage a wide range of potential languages. Here are some examples:
- Java: A general-purpose programming language you can use across many industries and skill sets.
- Python: Development tasks like creating scripts for system administration, deploying applications, and testing code changes.
- Ruby: A simple and efficient tool for web applications and data tracking.
- Shell/Bash: Used for automation, CI/CD applications, and tasks related to tracking and optimization
- PHP: A popular, open-source scripting language ideal for many scalable, performance-based applications.
For more information, check out our article on the IT languages of DevOps engineers.
Proficiency in these (among other) programming languages equips DevOps engineers with the skills necessary to automate repetitive tasks, manage infrastructure as code, and streamline the deployment process. Some of these languages also delve into scripting skills.
5. Scripting Skills
Scripting skills are a crucial component of DevOps skills needed. Proficiency in at least one scripting language, such as Python, Shell, or Perl, is essential for automating various processes in the software development lifecycle. As a DevOps engineer, required skills like this are the minimum.
One of the primary areas where scripting skills come into play is automation. DevOps engineers use scripting languages to automate builds, create deployment pipelines, and configure infrastructure. By writing scripts, they can manage and control the entire development and deployment process, saving time and reducing manual errors.
Scripting skills are valuable for creating and maintaining testing frameworks. With the ability to write scripts, DevOps engineers can automate application testing, ensuring the code is functioning as expected. This not only enhances the efficiency of the testing process but also helps in identifying and resolving bugs and issues more quickly.
6. Testing Skills
Testing is among the skills required for a DevOps engineer. Below are a few different testing skills you might have:
- Unit testing involves testing individual components or code units to verify their correctness and functionality.
- Deployment testing involves validating the application's behavior in different environments, ensuring smooth deployment.
- Performance testing evaluates the application's performance under various conditions to identify any bottlenecks or scalability issues.
- Integration testing focuses on testing the interaction between different components or modules of the application to ensure seamless integration.
You'll also find a range of testing tools and frameworks worth learning about, including some below:
- Engineers use Selenium for automating web browser interactions, allowing for efficient and repeatable testing.
- Gatling is a performance testing tool that helps engineers simulate high loads on the application to identify performance issues
- Postman is an API testing tool that facilitates the testing and validation of API calls.
- Cypress is a powerful end-to-end testing framework for web applications that provides real-time testing feedback and simplifies the testing process.
In summary, testing skills and knowledge of various testing types and tools are essential for a DevOps engineer to ensure software applications meet the highest standards of quality and performance.
7. Automation Skills
We've already mentioned a few tools and languages connected with automation, and those tools are becoming more prevalent as automation becomes more complex.
By automating repetitive tasks such as code builds and deployments, engineers can ensure faster and more reliable software releases. This not only improves overall productivity but also reduces the risk of human errors.
Automation skills go hand in hand with a deep understanding of the DevOps toolset. DevOps Engineers should be well-versed in popular automation tools and platforms like Jenkins, Ansible, Puppet, and Docker. This comes alongside coding and scripting skills (see above).
DevOps Engineers with automation skills are proficient in monitoring and optimizing application performance. They can leverage tools like Prometheus, Grafana, and New Relic to monitor and analyze application performance and infrastructure in real-time.
8. Security Skills
Security skills are essential for DevOps engineers as they play a crucial role in integrating security into the development and operations lifecycle. These skills help ensure that software releases are secure, minimizing the risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Here's a quick list of security skills worth noting:
- Change management: Engineers need to assess the impact of code changes on security and make sure that any modifications are secure without introducing vulnerabilities.
- Code analysis: Review code for potential security weaknesses and implement measures to mitigate them. This requires a deep understanding of secure coding practices and knowledge of common security vulnerabilities.
- Threat investigation: Understanding and responding to security incidents. This involves identifying the source of the threat, implementing measures to mitigate it, and preventing future occurrences.
- Vulnerability assessment: a skill that helps engineers identify and assess vulnerabilities in applications and infrastructure. This helps in addressing security gaps and ensuring a robust security posture.
Security training is crucial for DevOps engineers to stay updated on the latest security practices and techniques. This includes understanding secure development frameworks, security best practices, and compliance requirements.
9. Containerization Skills
Containerization allows for the efficient deployment and management of applications by packaging them along with their dependencies and runtime environments.
One of the key benefits of containerization is portability. Containers provide a consistent and isolated environment for applications to run, ensuring that they behave the same regardless of the underlying infrastructure. This enables DevOps engineers to move applications across different environments, such as development, testing, and production.
Scalability is another advantage of containerization. DevOps engineers can leverage container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes to scale applications based on demand.
10. Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) are crucial practices in the realm of DevOps engineering.
CI involves the process of merging code changes into a shared repository to ensure that all individual contributions are seamless. This practice allows for early detection of any conflicts or issues that may arise when multiple developers work on the same codebase. The key principle of CI is to enable teams to integrate and test their code continually, leading to a more reliable software development process.
CD focuses on automating the release and deployment of applications. It aims to streamline the software delivery pipeline, ensuring engineers can deliver to the end-users or customers
To support these practices, various CI/CD tools are available in the market. Here are a few examples:
- Jenkins provides a robust platform for continuous integration and delivery.
- CircleCI offers reliable and scalable CI/CD capabilities, with a focus on simplicity and ease of use.
- Bamboo, created by Atlassian, provides comprehensive CI/CD functionalities that integrate with other tools in the software development lifecycle.
11. Version Management Skills
Version management skills are essential for DevOps engineers as they involve managing and tracking changes to software code throughout its lifecycle. This ensures that different versions of the code are identifiable and accessible, enabling teams to collaborate and avoid conflicts.
Here are three version management tools engineers might need to know about:
- Jenkins is an open-source platform that automates the building, testing, and deployment of software applications. With Jenkins, DevOps engineers can create automated pipelines that streamline the process of code integration and version control.
- Engineers used maven for project management and dependency management. DevOps engineers who are well-versed in Maven can manage project configurations and dependencies, ensuring that engineers use the correct versions of libraries and frameworks in the software development process.
- Git (known for GitHub) is a widely used distributed version control system that allows multiple developers to collaborate on a project. DevOps engineers with Git skills can manage code repositories, track changes, and merge code from different branches, improving collaboration and code quality.
12. Communication and Collaboration Skills
Communication and collaboration skills are crucial to implement the DevOps methodology. Some key aspects of these skills include effective communication, constant feedback, collaboration, and teamwork.
Effective communication is a skill that enables engineers to communicate with both technical and non-technical stakeholders to understand their requirements, provide updates, and address any concerns.
Engineers also need to provide constant feedback to their team members, whether it's about code changes, deployment issues, or performance improvements. This feedback loop helps to identify and resolve problems, resulting in more efficient and reliable software releases.
Collaboration and teamwork are at the heart of DevOps. Collaboration involves sharing ideas, knowledge, and responsibilities, and fostering a culture of trust and respect. Teamwork ensures that everyone works together towards common goals, maximizing productivity and achieving optimal results.
13. Configuration & Version Management
Configuration management involves tracking and controlling changes to a system's software, hardware, and documentation. It helps maintain a reliable and reproducible infrastructure by ensuring that all environments, from development to production, are configured consistently. With proper configuration management, DevOps engineers can replicate and deploy environments, reducing the risk of errors and improving overall reliability.
Version management focuses on tracking and managing code changes throughout the software development lifecycle. DevOps engineers use version control systems to keep track of code versions, making it easier to collaborate with other team members, roll back to previous versions if needed, and manage code conflicts. Version management also helps ensure that all team members are working on the most up-to-date codebase, improving efficiency and productivity.
Above, you'll see a few tools that assist in versioning between different versions of code. With the current CI/CD environment, it is important to have logical systems for managing updates and making changes to maintain security, efficiency, and functionality.
How to Develop DevOps Engineer Skills
Aspiring professionals should focus on gaining knowledge and experience in essential areas, like those we mentioned above.
For more tips, check out this article on how to become a DevOps engineer.
Here are some steps you can take to develop your DevOps job skills:
1. Learn from the Internet
Start by learning basic DevOps skills to learn. There are many free resources for learning on websites like YouTube. If you have some money, you can learn via websites like Coursera and Udemy.
If you prefer offline resources, check out our article on useful books for a novice DevOps engineer.
Focus on the simple side of these skills at first, like the following:
- Git & GitHub (to understand versioning and how other coders work)
- Software development cycle basics (Including how that's changed with the latest CI/CD environments)
- The basics of cloud management (including items like SAAS, IAAS, private clouds, public clouds, etc.)
- The items listed above
Many certification programs (which you can see below) also provide built-in learning tools. But if you're new to DevOps, you might start with a smaller investment. If you already know you love DevOps, step two is worth considering.
2. Work with the community
Self-guided learning can only get you so far, so your next step should collaborate with others. Working with others can give you a new perspective on your coding and scripting habits.
Communities on GitHub are full of people who are eager to collaborate with others. You can help them out, save them time, and give yourself a chance to learn some skills. Consider the Anywhere Club Discord server to check out events and collaborate with other coders.
3. Donate your time to public projects
With a few more skills under your belt, you can do more to contribute to public projects. You can put these projects on your portfolio and bolster your skills in DevOps.
Try to find projects in areas you are passionate about, as this will drive you to contribute more. If you can put your heart into it, that love will show in your code.
4. Take part in hackathons
Taking part in hackathons gives you the opportunity to learn from experienced DevOps engineers and develop your coding skills. Plus, you can network with other professionals and find potential job opportunities.
When learning some of the most important DevOps hard skills, hackathons can be incredibly helpful.
5. Get educated
A degree provides you with standardized coding practices and a basic understanding of how to code. Degrees in software design, information technology, and computer science can help you learn some of the top DevOps skills.
Certifications can also provide additional DevOps skills and validate your expertise. Below, you'll learn about some great certifications.
Certifications that Provide DevOps Skills
Certifications play a vital role in developing and validating the DevOps expertise required for a successful career in DevOps. Here are some certifications that provide essential DevOps skills:
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator: The CKA program provides deep knowledge on this container-based language.
- CompTIA Security+: This certification focuses on cybersecurity skills, which are crucial in the DevOps world. DevOps engineers need to understand and implement security practices to protect systems and data.
- Puppet Enterprise Certification: Puppet is another well-known tool you might've noticed at the beginning. It's a great tool for learning how Puppet improves automation and efficiency.
- CompTIA Linux+: Linux is a fundamental component of DevOps environments. The CompTIA Linux+ certification provides a solid foundation in Linux administration, covering topics like command-line basics, system configuration, file systems, and shell scripting.
- Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert: Microsoft provides some of the most respected certification programs. These certifications are more expensive because they require prerequisites for Azure and introductory programs.
- CompTIA Cloud+: As more organizations adopt cloud technologies, understanding cloud infrastructure becomes essential for DevOps professionals. The CompTIA Cloud+ certification covers key concepts related to cloud services, deployment models, and management techniques.
- DevOps on AWS Specialization: A combination of basic AWS methodologies related to the Amazon Web Services system. AWS is popular, making it a high-demand skill for your back pocket.
These certifications show an individual's expertise in specific DevOps skills, setting them apart in the job market. By obtaining these certifications, DevOps engineers can enhance their knowledge, gain a competitive edge, and contribute to the continuous delivery, automation, and collaboration aspects of DevOps practices.
Engineers play an important role in the development and management of software systems. With DevOps, required skills can include certain technology stacks, industry-specific skills, and more basic communication skills. In DevOps, essential skills like these can help you succeed.
From understanding coding basics to getting certifications, there are several ways to ensure you have the proficiency. By equipping yourself with these skills, you can show your knowledge and expertise and become a valuable asset in the world of DevOps.
Remember, developing your DevOps engineer skills is an ongoing journey. Embrace continuous learning, explore resources, and seek opportunities to apply your skills in real-world scenarios. By doing so, you'll be well-prepared to meet the demands of this dynamic and fast-paced field.
How Can I Increase My DevOps Skill Set?
One of the best ways to increase your DevOps skill set is through active involvement in the DevOps community. Engaging with other professionals in the field can provide valuable insights, knowledge-sharing, and networking opportunities.
What Are the Most Common DevOps Tools?
The most common DevOps tools include those for automation, configuration management, containerization, monitoring, and CI/CD.
Are DevOps Skills in Demand?
Yes, the DevOps job market is projected to grow by 21% from 2021 to 2028. Job postings for DevOps positions have seen a sharp increase in numbers, reflecting the industry's recognition of the value that DevOps brings to organizations.