DevOps engineer: job description

DevOps engineers build, test and maintain the infrastructure and tools to allow for the speedy development and release of software.

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DevOps practices aim to simplify the development process of software.

What does a devOps engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

DevOps is a series of practices and processes that are intended to speed up and automate aspects of the processes of developing, testing and releasing software, allowing for the continuous delivery of software and software updates. Whereas previously software would be developed by developers and then passed onto testers to test and go back and forth between them, devOps practices aim to simplify this by integrating these previously separate teams. DevOps engineers are responsible for facilitating this.

The role of a devOps engineer combines aspects of a technical role and an IT operations role. While engineers are likely to be involved with coding, and a knowledge of coding languages and principles is required to find problems and build solutions, this is not the primary role of a devOps engineer. More senior engineers are likely to be more involved in the project management and planning side of development.

Typical responsibilities for devOps engineers include:

  • building and setting up new development tools and infrastructure
  • understanding the needs of stakeholders and conveying this to developers
  • working on ways to automate and improve development and release processes
  • testing and examining code written by others and analysing results
  • ensuring that systems are safe and secure against cybersecurity threats
  • identifying technical problems and developing software updates and ‘fixes’
  • working with software developers and software engineers to ensure that development follows established processes and works as intended
  • planning out projects and being involved in project management decisions.

Graduates may start out in a ‘graduate devOps engineer’ or ‘associate devOps engineer’ role, before progressing to ‘senior devOps engineer’ and ‘principal devOps engineer’ roles with experience.

Typical employers of devOps engineers

Employers of devOps engineers include:

  • specialist software development companies
  • websites and any organisation that manages websites
  • technology consultancies
  • telecommunications companies and broadcasters
  • retailers
  • public sector organisations.

DevOps engineer jobs are advertised online, by careers services and by recruitment agencies.

Qualifications and training required

DevOps engineer roles typically ask for a degree in a technical or a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, with some requiring applicants to have a masters degree. Strong degree results (at least a 2.1) are also usually desired by recruiters.

As you progress, employers may require you to attain a professional qualification. The BCS (British Computer Society) offers certifications in devOps and in Agile (a set of practices related to devOps). Similarly, you may choose to gain certification in a particular technology that the employer uses, such as AWS or Azure cloud services.

Key skills for devOps engineers

Useful skills for devOps engineers include:

  • excellent teamworking and communication skills
  • knowledge of programming languages
  • strong problem-solving skills
  • good attention to detail
  • excellent organisational and time management skills, and the ability to work on multiple projects at the same time
  • awareness of devOps and Agile principles.

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