Is DevOps Engineering a Good Career Path?

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DevOps has become increasingly important to modern tech organisations as it helps to increase efficiencies on both the development and operations sides of a project lifecycle.

But what exactly does a DevOps engineer do, and is this career the right fit for you? In this article, we will explore the DevOps field to help you decide whether to embark on this dynamic career path.

What is DevOps?

DevOps, a fusion of the terms “Development” and “Operations,” represents a cultural and technical movement that aims to bridge the gap between software development and IT operations.

While often seen through the lens of tools and technologies, DevOps is anchored in a set of guiding principles. In 2010, John Willis and Damon Edwards introduced the acronym CAMS to gather those principles, which Jez Humble later extended to CALMS.

This acronym stands for Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing:

  • Culture emphasises the importance of fostering a collaborative environment where both development and operations teams operate in unison, breaking traditional silos
  • Automation underscores the necessity of automating processes, from code integration and testing to infrastructure provisioning, ensuring speed and consistency
  • Lean is borrowed from lean manufacturing principles, promoting the idea of minimising waste, optimising resources, and focusing on value delivery
  • Measurement stresses the importance of data-driven decision-making by continuously monitoring and assessing performance and other critical metrics
  • Sharing accentuates the idea of open communication and feedback loops across teams, ensuring that insights, challenges, and successes are transparently conveyed

Together, the CALMS principles encapsulate the holistic essence of DevOps, offering a comprehensive blueprint for its effective implementation.

What does a DevOps engineer do?

A DevOps engineer’s role is multifaceted, and the exact responsibilities can vary depending on the organisation’s needs, the specific project, and the technology stack in use. Their responsibilities ensure a seamless and efficient transition of software from conception to deployment, all while ensuring system reliability and scalability.

Here is a list of the common DevOps responsibilities:

  • Infrastructure automation – Using tools like Terraform or CloudFormation to script infrastructure provisioning or modify existing configurations
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) – Setting up, maintaining, and optimising CI/CD pipelines using tools like Jenkins, GitLab CI, or Travis CI
  • Configuration management – Using tools like Ansible, Puppet, or Chef to automate configuration management and ensure applications run as expected
  • System monitoring and logging – Configuring and analysing monitoring tools like Prometheus or Nagios and logging solutions like ELK Stack or Splunk
  • Collaboration and communication – Attending cross-team meetings, reviewing code, and providing feedback on infrastructure-related issues
  • Security and compliance – Performing regular vulnerability scans, patch systems, and audit infrastructure configurations against compliance standards
  • Troubleshooting and incident response – Addressing any production outages or system performance issues, analysing root causes, and implementing long-term fixes
  • Optimisation – Analysing performance metrics, identify bottlenecks, and implement changes to enhance system performance
  • Containerisation and orchestration – Managing and deploying containers using tools like Docker and orchestrating them using Kubernetes or Docker Swarm
  • Documentation and training – Updating documentation, creating guides, and sometimes training junior engineers or other team members on best practises

Compensation and Benefits

With the surge in digital transformation across industries, DevOps engineers are in demand. However, as a new field in the world of tech, DevOps is relatively uncharted territory, and skills are in short supply.

The lack of available skills in this area is reflected in the kind of salaries DevOps engineers can attract. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a DevOps engineer in the United Kingdom is £54,237 per year, and this can rise to £82,333 per year. Compensation can differ based on location, experience, and the specific company, but generally, the pay is quite attractive.

Opportunities for advancement will vary according to the company you work for, but there is considerable potential for progression. You could work your way up from a relatively junior position to a DevOps Architect, Site Reliability Engineer (SRE), and even Head of Department.

The field of DevOps, traditionally male-dominated, is progressively recognising the value of diversity and inclusion. As a result, opportunities for women in DevOps are on the rise, with organisations actively seeking diverse perspectives to drive innovation and enhance team dynamics.

Challenges in the DevOps role

DevOps engineering, while promising a fulfilling and dynamic career path, comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most prominent issues is the pace of change; with technologies evolving rapidly, DevOps engineers often find themselves in a constant loop of learning and adapting.

Additionally, there’s a common misconception that the role is purely technical. While technical proficiency is crucial, DevOps also emphasises collaboration and communication. It’s not just about automating processes but fostering a culture where development and operations meld seamlessly.

As university students consider a potential career in this field, it’s essential to understand that adaptability and a collaborative spirit are as vital as any coding or infrastructure skills. Being open to continuous learning, dispelling misconceptions, and valuing teamwork are key attributes that will ensure success in the ever-evolving landscape of DevOps.

How to Get Started in DevOps Engineering

For aspiring DevOps engineers, a solid educational foundation is often rooted in computer science, information technology, or related fields. A bachelor’s degree in these disciplines provides a comprehensive understanding of software development, system operations, and basic IT principles, all essential for a DevOps role.

The world of DevOps is vast, and supplementing academic knowledge with specialised certifications can be a game-changer. Certifications like AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, Docker Certified Associate, or Certified Kubernetes Administrator highlight expertise in specific tools and methodologies crucial in the DevOps landscape.

As you gear up to land your first DevOps role, focus on hands-on experience. Consider internships, contribute to open-source projects, or even create a portfolio of personal projects that showcase your skills. Engaging with the DevOps community, attending conferences, and networking can also open doors to potential job opportunities.

Wrapping up

As with any profession, DevOps engineering comes with its set of challenges and rewards. But for those drawn to the dynamic interplay of software development and IT operations and the thrill of fostering innovation, DevOps offers a frontier of immense opportunities.

As you stand on the precipice of career choices, consider this field’s profound impact and ever-evolving nature. DevOps engineering is not just a career; it’s a journey of lifelong learning, adaptability, and making a tangible difference in the tech world. If this resonates with your aspirations, then this path might just be the adventure you’re seeking.


Author: Mariusz Michalowski

Mariusz is a Community Manager at Spacelift. He is passionate about automation, DevOps, and open-source solutions. In his free time, he enjoys car detailing, swimming, and nonfiction books.