Having a DevOps engineer is one of the key ways to implement a DevOps culture in your organization. Before we delve into what a DevOps engineer is and what the role entails, we will start with a definition of DevOps. 

Definition of DevOps 

DevOps brings together the concepts of development and operations, highlighting the collaboration between the two.

The main premise behind a DevOps culture is releasing software frequently in small increments while incorporating any feedback received to constantly improve products.

DevOps relies on continuous testing by developing automated CI/CD pipelines. Thus, the outcome of implementing DevOps is a CI/CD pipeline supported by effective collaboration between development and operations teams.

You can look at DevOps as a combination of people, process and technology that strives to continuously add value to customers through increased and faster ability of an organization to deliver products and services. 

Thus, the main priority of DevOps is to release high quality features on a frequent basis through cross-team collaboration.

Due to the value that DevOps practices bring to teams and customers alike, it is no surprise that there is increasing demand for DevOps professionals.

One of the vital roles within DevOps is the DevOps engineer, a highly desirable and coveted role within organizations implementing modern software practices.

Who is a DevOps engineer?

A DevOps engineer is someone with a deep knowledge of the software development process and lifecycle and has expertise in the various automation tools for developing CI/CD pipelines.

The DevOps engineer, then, is an IT professional who works with developers and IT teams to monitor and facilitate code releases on a CI/CD basis.

You can look at this type of engineer as the bridge that connects development and operations teams. To do so successfully, he/she will have a wide range of knowledge that spans both development and operations.

Consequently, when you have such a profile in your team, you can ensure that your development and operations teams are working smoothly together. 

You can also release updates to your products much quicker as he/she oversees that everything is oriented towards achieving frequent releases, which is at the core of a DevOps approach. 

DevOps engineer skill set

A DevOps engineer requires a good balance between soft and hard skills to successfully implement a DevOps methodology.

The technical skills required will vary depending on the organization, team structures and tools that are available. However, the following are the general set of skills he/she is expected to have:


As previously mentioned, the DevOps engineer is like a bridge that connects development and operations teams. 

As a result, they will need to have the interpersonal skills necessary to be that bridge and create a collaborative environment. Hence, they should be able to communicate and collaborate effectively across teams and to support and advise colleagues whenever necessary.

Experience with DevOps tools

This goes without saying but to adopt DevOps practices, certain tools should be used so the DevOps engineer will need to have a good understanding of such tools from building to monitoring and operating them.

The DevOps engineer must manage complex automated pipelines. They must also have experience in configuring and deploying CI/CD tools since continuous integration and continuous delivery are at the core of a DevOps culture. 

The engineer will usually need to work closely with the development team to ensure they are using these tools effectively.

Project management

Often, a DevOps engineer is the one who takes the lead on managing all the processes within a project, ensuring smooth communication among everyone working on the project and making sure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and goals.

Optimizing release cycles

In a sense, a DevOps engineer is a representative of a DevOps culture. To maintain such a culture within the organization, he/she will constantly seek ways to optimize and speed-up your release process by introducing new software, for example.

Coding knowledge

A DevOps engineer should have a diverse set of coding skills and a familiarity with a number of programming languages such as Java, Javascript and Ruby.

He/she would then apply these coding skills to construct an efficient automated pipeline or build new tools as part of agile development practices.

Most importantly, he/she will need to be skilled at writing secure code to protect your software from unwanted attacks. This means that they will need to have the security skills necessary to build and design software with security in mind.

Infrastructure knowledge

An important element of DevOps is automation.

This means that a DevOps engineer should have a working knowledge of Infrastructure as Code, a concept which represents modern practices of managing infrastructure so that infrastructure setup is treated as code rather than a manual process.

As a result, they will need to understand how to model system infrastructure in the cloud using provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), AWS’ CloudFormation, Terraform, or related products from Azure Devops and Google Cloud Platform.

The DevOps engineer should also have the ability to design and manage computer ecosystems, whether on-premise or in the cloud.

DevOps engineer responsibilities

The responsibilities of the DevOps engineer will differ depending on the organization but generally speaking and based on the above required skills, his/her main responsibilities include:

  • Writing documentation for server-side features
  • System analysis of the current system in use and developing plans for enhancements and improvements.
  • Cloud deployment and management
  • CI/CD management and deployment
  • Performance assessment, monitoring and recommending performance enhancements
  • Infrastructure management
  • Continuous testing at different stages of the development cycle
  • Helping to implement a DevOps culture

Some tools used by DevOps engineers

Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of the various automation tools that DevOps engineers use as part of a DevOps methodology across the software delivery lifecycle-from continuous integration environments to deployment:

  • Source code management: GitHub
  • Developing CI/CD pipelines: CI/CD processes require specific tools for automation. Some widely-used ones include Jenkins and GitLab CI
  • Testing: these are tools that will help the engineer determine how the application they built turned out and check for errors. Such tools include Selenium.
  • Containerization relies on specific tools to build and configure containers that allow software to function across various environments. Such tools include Docker and Kubernetes, an open-source container-orchestration system.
  • Configuration management to manage and configure servers in DevOps. Some tools include Puppet and Chef.
  • Monitoring: these are tools to help the engineer to screen the app and to make sure it’s working as it should. Such tools include Nagios and Prometheus.
  • Cloud platform integration: cloud is a method for storing information over the web instead of your hard drive. There are many cloud suppliers on the market; the most well known include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
DevOps Tools

For a more comprehensive list of DevOps tools, you can refer to the Periodic Table of DevOps Tools by Digital.ai.

How much does a DevOps engineer make? 

The role has become a very in-demand job as DevOps practices have become more wide-spread across organizations.

According to talent.com, the average salary of a DevOps engineer in the USA is around $126,957 a year with more experienced engineers making up to $160,000 a year.

Beyond a job title

A DevOps engineer is an important part of your transformation into a DevOps methodology and so will need to have a broad set of skills to bring about this transformation.

They will ensure everyone is working towards the same objective: quick and rapid delivery of high quality code. They do so by ensuring your teams are using the automated tools effectively and opening up lines of communication to ensure a smooth workflow.

Therefore, your DevOps engineer is not only the foundation of your DevOps culture but also a valuable link between different teams that will facilitate collaboration among them, thereby increasing productivity and bringing about the full potential of DevOps to your organization.

One point to remember is that this is a dynamic role in a highly evolving market so this role may grow and change accordingly to include more responsibilities. Thus, having someone with a broad set of skills and knowledge is essential for the success of your organization in an ever-changing industry.

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