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How To Become a DevOps Engineer A Comprehensive Guide

How To Become a DevOps Engineer: A Comprehensive Guide

10 minute read | June 5, 2023
Akansha Rukhaiyar

Written by:
Akansha Rukhaiyar


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If you’re at all familiar with the software development process, then you’ll know that there are a lot of moving parts. It’s usually the case that you aren’t just collaborating with members of your own team. To build lasting software and applications, your team will also need to coordinate and collaborate with other teams too. 

There’s an entire field dedicated to enhancing and optimizing workflows across all these teams, and it’s called DevOps. DevOps engineers bridge workflows with automated processes, accelerated timelines, and more accountability across various teams, including developers, data engineers, and software engineers.

DevOps is an approach to software development that emerged in 2007, and since then, it’s become quite a lucrative subset of software development, with entry-level salaries starting in the six figures. But given that DevOps is a relatively new field, the path to becoming a DevOps engineer isn’t always clear. 

That’s why we’ve assembled this guide. Below, we’ll outline ten steps that you can take to launch a career in DevOps today.

What Does a DevOps Engineer Do?

DevOps engineers oversee infrastructure and software workflows for an organization. They build automation frameworks, optimize pipelines for apps, write software code, and mitigate issues during software releases. In other words, DevOps engineers bridge siloed teams to build better software. 

Is It Hard To Become a DevOps Engineer?

It’s not hard to become a DevOps engineer, but you will need a tailored learning plan. DevOps often doesn’t entail fixed responsibilities. It combines a variety of practices and philosophies, so it’s essential that you understand those before you start your learning journey.

How To Become a DevOps Engineer: A 10-Step Guide

Follow these 10 steps to become a DevOps engineer:

  1. Learn the Fundamentals

  2. Learn Coding and Scripting

  3. Meet the Educational Requirements (and Continue Learning)

  4. Hone Your Skillset

  5. Learn the Tools

  6. Gain Practical Experience

  7. Pursue a Certification

  8. Consider an Internship

  9. Your Network Is Your Net Worth

  10. Polish Your Resume and Prepare for Interviews

Learn the Fundamentals

Before you jump into a degree or bootcamp, dip your toes into the fundamentals. At the very beginning of your learning journey, your goal should be to have a rudimentary understanding of the following:

  • What DevOps entails
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) v. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Containers
  • Networking
  • Virtualization
  • Provisioning

Learn Coding and Scripting

The “Dev” in DevOps is all about developing infrastructure code. Python, JavaScript, and Ruby are a must for a DevOps engineer. Even though you won’t be building new software, you need to know how to code, as DevOps Engineers are responsible for managing updates and code releases.

Meet the Educational Requirements (and Continue Learning)

Here are the two educational paths you can take for a career as a DevOps engineer:

University Degree

A college degree is not necessary to become a DevOps engineer, but if you choose the traditional path of a university degree, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or any IT field.


Instead of spending 3-4 years getting a degree, you can learn everything you need for your first DevOps job with a bootcamp. You will spend less time and a fraction of the money and have a more nuanced learning experience than at a traditional college. Springboard’s 9-month Software Engineering Bootcamp is great for aspiring DevOps engineers, and the program offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t land a job soon after graduation.

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Continuous Learning

Regardless of your chosen path, you must keep your knowledge and skills up to date, as the technologies you’ll use will keep changing. Keep up with the following resources:

Online Courses

Check out these DevOps courses that can help keep you relevant:

Blogs and Books

Old-school professionals out there can add these books to their reading list:

  • The Phoenix Project and the Unicorn Project by Gene Kim, the CTO of Tripwire, and Kevin Behr, the founder of the Information Technology Institute
  • The DevOps Handbook, also authored by Gene Kim, along with other IT scholars and leaders
  • Google’s Site Reliability Engineering guides, which contains three books on designing and managing systems
  • DevOps for Dummies, by Emily Freeman

You can also bookmark these blogs for frequent updates:

More of a podcaster? Give Arrested DevOps a try.

Follow DevOps Specialists on Social Media

Many DevOps specialists use social media to spread their knowledge, resources, and tips to budding DevOps engineers. Here are some DevOps specialists to check out:

  • Nana Janashia runs a YouTube channel, conducts bootcamps, and shares valuable resources on her LinkedIn.
  • Gene Kim doesn’t post content directly on LinkedIn but shares links to his talks, seminars, and the latest conferences in the DevOps field. His Twitter has some interesting posts too.
  • Dr. Nicole Forsgren (Microsoft and ex-GitHub) shares employment opportunities and funny but topical posts related to DevOps on her Twitter feed.

Hone Your Skillset

To launch a career as a DevOps engineer, you’ll need the following mix of technical and soft skills:

Technical Skills

  • Building incident management processes. DevOps engineers need to identify system weaknesses and devise proactive solutions. These include logging and categorizing, notifying and escalating, and eliminating issues.
  • Optimizing delivery pipelines. DevOps pipelines are a bundle of automated workflows and tools that streamline the work of software developers and other IT professionals. A DevOps engineer must be able to build and optimize delivery pipelines and know how to choose the right DevOps tools.
  • Technical writing. Writing playbooks and post-mortem reports involves a deep understanding of technical vocabulary. It’s vital that you be able to expand upon each step and the tools that were used, with the appropriate terminology.

Soft Skills

  • Communication and problem-solving. A DevOps engineer’s main job is coordinating with other IT teams to ensure smooth workflow across operations, development, and management teams. This requires bringing everyone on the same page through effective communication skills and putting out fires with problem-solving.
  • Self-education. The DevOps space is constantly evolving, so you’ll need to upskill continually. Bootcamps and YouTube tutorials are a great way to do this.
  • Collaboration. DevOps is a collaborative process, so you’ll need to be adept at working with other teams to improve code, conduct peer reviews for codes, and streamline workloads.

Learn the Tools

If you’re a DevOps engineer, then you’ll need to understand how to use Linux—the entire industry is practically built upon this operating system. You’ll also use Git, a popular control system, for version control and source code management. DevOps engineers ensure collaboration among software engineers and developers, and Git helps with that.

Jenkins is another must-have tool, as it’s used to manage CI/CD pipelines. It’s easy to learn, and with its numerous plugins, you can use it and many other tools and deployment processes.

Another essential tool is Docker, which is like a container for code. You can build and deploy applications on Docker and release them to multiple servers. Docker stores your entire software stack(s) for you without mixing them up.

You’ll need to learn more tools eventually, but those three are a great place to get started. 

Gain Practical Experience

You can get practical experience before you land a job. Here’s how:

Sample Projects

One of the easiest software development projects to start with is to create a chatbot for customer support. If you want to work with cloud computing, you can learn how to migrate an application to the cloud. This would involve data migration and configuring resources using cloud technologies.

Participate in Hackathons

Hackathons are the best way to apply your knowledge while also building a network. It teaches you how to generate ideas and collaborate in fast-paced environments. You can check out websites like Devpost to find hackathons that interest you.

Pursue Volunteer Work

Organizations with large IT development teams require DevOps engineers to ensure the smooth deployment of software. Volunteer with businesses selling IT products and help them streamline their IT operations.

Pursue a Certification

Certifications validate your knowledge and expertise, and when you start applying for jobs, they’ll help you stand out from other candidates. These certifications can help with salary negotiations and advanced career opportunities:

Consider an Internship

Start looking for internships once you have a body of sample work that you can show employers. Look for companies that give placement offers based on internships. Apply your knowledge, make connections, and ask plenty of questions.

Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Building professional relationships can quickly get you that referral or job opportunity. It will also enhance your growth as you learn from (and along with) your network. Here’s how you build your network:

  • LinkedIn. Share your experiences as someone entering the industry. Engage with seasoned DevOps engineers who share resources and advice.
  • Online Communities. DevOps communities on Reddit, Slack, and Github are great for nurturing relationships as you navigate project-specific obstacles. Make sure to help those you can. Your experience as someone building unique learning paths is valuable as well.
  • Conferences And Meetups. Community meetups and conferences are great for forging relationships the old-school way. You can learn about other people’s journeys without being limited to a character limit for posts online.

Polish Your Resume and Prepare for Interviews

Build a resume for each job position you are applying to so that you are highlighting exactly what each hiring manager needs.

Get To Know Other Software Engineering Students

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Career Transition to DevOps Engineering: Where To Start

Your starting position will determine your career path as a DevOps Engineer. Here are two possibilities:

Related Career Transition

If you’re already a data engineer, a software engineer, or a cloud engineer, the transition to DevOps will be easy. Immerse yourself in DevOps teams that manage the pipelines familiar to you. That will be a sure-shot path to DevOps roles. You can then use the above guide to fill in knowledge gaps. There’s no need to start from scratch. You’ll be able to make this transition within months.

Unrelated Career Transition

If you’re making an unrelated career transition, then your path will be more akin to someone starting from scratch. But remember—you are coming from a position of some experience. Your training as part of any career has equipped you with a bunch of basic skills (including soft skills and leadership skills) that will be invaluable as a DevOps engineer.

How Much Can You Earn as a DevOps Engineer?

The average salaries of DevOps engineers fall in the 100K-165K range based on experience:

Junior DevOps Engineer

A junior DevOps engineer can easily make six figures:

how to become a devops engineer, Junior DevOps Engineer salary

Mid-Level DevOps Engineer

A mid-level DevOps Engineer, which entails about 7 years of experience, can expect to make closer to $150,000:

how to become a devops engineer, Mid-Level DevOps Engineer salary

Senior DevOps Engineer

On the higher range of things, the annual salary for a Senior DevOps Engineer can reach $200,000.

how to become a devops engineer, Senior DevOps Engineer salary

What Does the Career Path of a DevOps Engineer Look Like?

A DevOps role encompasses many qualifications, so there are many ways to get there. Linux is one of the building blocks for DevOps, so starting out as a Linux engineer is a common starting point. Another career path could be to start as a release manager. You will manage the end-to-end software delivery life cycle and transition into project manager or IT director positions. You can also start as a technician specialist and work your way up from there.

Becoming a DevOps Engineer: Real-Life Examples To Learn From

Here are two examples of DevOps Engineers who have successfully carved their career paths in the industry:

Linh Luong

Linh worked in the retail industry for ten years before pivoting into tech. Linh prioritized the following to land her first DevOps job:

  • Terraform
  • CI/CD pipeline management
  • Linux
  • Git
  • Python as the primary programming language
  • Ansible, which is a configuration management tool

Linh became proficient in the above through free courses, blogs, and books. She advises professionals to experiment with different languages and relevant tools before committing to a few. 

Nana Janashia

Nana recommends that you start by learning to differentiate between DevOps concepts (the foundation of DevOps processes) and DevOps tools (which solve a problem within those processes). Understand the concepts first, and then see which tool can solve the challenges at hand.

Nana suggests going through video tutorials and official documentation for each tool. She highlights the importance of knowing how to do each step and understanding its reason rather than just having an overall idea.

FAQs About Becoming a DevOps Engineer

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Is DevOps Engineering Stressful?

In a small sample survey (1100 respondents) conducted on Reddit, DevOps was deemed to be 2nd most stressed IT field. Interestingly, 60% of DevOps choose to blame themselves as a way to deal with stress. But, with the right work-life balance and mindfulness mechanisms, you can get ahead of the stress and have a flourishing career.

How Long Does It Take To Become a DevOps Engineer?

It depends on your learning strategy, goals, and past experience. You can become a DevOps Engineer in about six months to a year if you don’t go down the traditional degree route.

Which Degree Is Best for a Career as a DevOps Engineer?

A bachelor’s degree in software development, computer science, computer engineering, or any related IT field is ideal for a career in DevOps engineering.

Can You Become a DevOps Engineer Without a Degree?

Absolutely. Enroll in bootcamps, and study through online courses and videos to build your knowledge base before applying for DevOps engineer jobs.

About Akansha Rukhaiyar

Akansha is a freelance writer for SaaS B2B brands, with a parallel interest in writing for mental health services and education websites. She has worked with globally diverse clients and loves to incorporate The Office references in her writing in the most accessible ways