According to Glassdoor’s Best Jobs in America report for 2018, DevOps engineer is the second best technology job in the U.S. Considering the demand (and the skill set required), this is hardly surprising.

Enterprises — from Amazon and Facebook to Netflix and Walmart — are increasingly using DevOps to ensure rapid and consistent delivery of software and security updates to their own teams and to customers. Small and medium businesses are making inroads into DevOps as well.

Driving factors for devops adoption

DevOps is seen by many as a sweet spot between Dev and Ops, a place where literally every tech role can go to land a better job with a higher salary.

However, DevOps can be a tough nut to crack. DevOps skills that are critical to doing great professionally are not that easy to come by. They should be gained and nurtured.

If you are thinking about becoming a DevOps or want to hire a DevOps engineer to reinforce your IT-organization, go no further.

In this post, I will share with you ten crucial skills that every DevOps engineer should have for success.

1. Strong Communication and Collaboration Skills

Communication and collaboration are the skills that can make or break DevOps in any organization.

Just consider a few things that can be efficiently done if communication and collaboration are on your DevOps skill set:

  • Breaking down the silos. Everyone is sick and tired of this, but DevOps is all about breaking down the silos between the development and operations teams. A DevOps engineer is someone who builds connections and relieves bottlenecks, which is done by talking to people.
  • Aligning Dev and Ops goals for the customer’s sake. A DevOps pro should be able to assess and streamline the goals of Dev and Ops teams towards the common goal to ensure a flawless customer experience.
  • Introducing and implementing a DevOps culture. All organizations are different, and you will not be able to instill DevOps values and DevOps culture should communication and collaboration be missing. You will have to explain what DevOps is, educate about DevOps principles and DevOps tools, and verbally dive deep into infrastructure and automation issues.

Simply put, if you are not a people person who can bring employees together to work towards a common goal, DevOps might not be the best fit for you.

2. Empathy and Unselfishness

Soft skills are as important to a DevOps professional as hard skills and should not be underestimated.

Not only does DevOps require strong hard skills like coding and automation, it also necessitates such soft skills as curiosity, flexibility, self-motivation, and empathy.

Among soft skills, nothing beats empathy and unselfishness — DevOps skills that help you understand what other people feel and allow you not to put yourself above others.

DevOps pros should not only be talkers, but also listeners. Never should you rush a DevOps transformation before you:

  • Talk to key stakeholders
  • Find out what the goals are
  • Assess the current state of DevOps
  • Identify areas of improvement
  • Ensure that stakeholders realize what you are going to do

You should understand how the organization runs, who the people who manage it are, and what the organization’s culture is to avoid creating contention points and constraints. Empathy and unselfishness will definitely help you in the process.

3. Understanding of Major DevOps Tools

DevOps tools are too many, and it does not make much sense to try to master them all. The good news is, you do not have to.

However, knowing your way around the major DevOps tools (displayed in the table below) will be a huge plus on your resume.

Source Control Continuous Integration Configuration Management Deployment Automation Containers Orchestration Cloud Platforms
Git Jenkins Puppet Jenkins Docker Kubernetes AWS
Bitbucket Bamboo Chef VSTS Vagrant Mesos Azure
TeamCity Ansible Octopus Deploy Swarm GCP

DevOps is constantly changing. To ensure that your DevOps skills are up to snuff, you will have to learn something new, including DevOps tools all the time.

4. Software Security Skills

DevSecOps (Security DevOps) has become one of the tech buzzwords in 2018 for a reason, which is:

While DevOps helps develop and release software more rapidly, it also creates a bunch of vulnerabilities, since security teams cannot keep up with the faster cycle.

Simply put, not only high-quality code but also bugs and malware can be deployed much faster now. Introducing DevOps without having perfected security processes in the IT-organization is a recipe for disaster.

Thus, DevOps should have at least the basic software security skills to be able to introduce security into the SDLC right off the bat.

DevOps skills - DevSecOpsThe security component should be shifted left: You do not want to fix security issues in code; you want to predict and eliminate them from the start.

5. Command of Automation Technologies and Tools

Automation is the lifeblood of DevOps.

Unless you know how to automate the entire DevOps pipeline, including CI/CD, continuous testing, app performance monitoring, infrastructure settings and configurations, you cannot call yourself a DevOps engineer.

Automation is key because it allows to reduce the human component, which fosters speed, increases accuracy, improves consistency and reliability while cutting the amount of errors. Eventually, this results in more rapid and swift, higher-quality delivery of value to customers.

Your ability to automate DevOps hugely depends on your knowledge of DevOps tools, coding and scripting skills, and experience with the on-premise and cloud infrastructure.

6. Coding and Scripting Skills

DevOps engineer should not have to be a coding guru. However, having some coding and, most importantly, scripting skills is very much recommended.

As a DevOps, you should have a good handle on Ruby, Python, Java, Javascript, PHP, Bash, Shell, and Node.js. (Of course, you should not know every programming language.) You will need these mostly for automation.

If you are looking for a good place to start, go for Python, Go, and JSON/Javascript.

7. Cloud Skills

DevOps and cloud are joined at the hip.

If you do DevOps, you have to know the cloud, since:

  • The cloud provides DevOps and the entire crew a centralized platform to test, deploy, and release code
  • It enables DevOps automation by offering CI/CD tools, cost-efficiency, and security
  • The cloud ensures that resources are easily monitored and the associated cost is efficiently tracked and adjusted

And, most importantly, the cloud allows IT-organizations to accelerate and facilitate a development process.

Thus, whether you choose AWS or Azure, or any other cloud platform, knowing how to do DevOps in the cloud is a must-have DevOps skill.

8. Testing Skills

DevOps is hugely impacted by how well testing is done in the IT-organization.

You cannot automate the DevOps pipeline if efficient continuous testing, the process of executing automated tests, is not in place.

DevOps skills - Continuous TestingEnsure that every automated test runs as it should, or risk pushing buggy code directly to customers, which is not great from a user experience standpoint.

9. Customer-Centric Mindset

DevOps engineers should work with a final goal in mind, which is delivering value to the end user and getting tangible results for their organization’s business. They should analyze how their own and their organization’s activities can be enhanced to deliver value more rapidly.

To do that, DevOps engineers should keep in touch with key stakeholders, including developers, testers, project managers, and business leaders. Eventually, they need to ensure that their activities are properly synchronized and optimized around the common goal.

10. Passion and Proactivity

DevOps engineers should nurture passion and proactivity.

To begin with, loving your job is naturally linked to happiness at a workplace, which impacts performance and productivity. And the more meaningful results you produce for the company, the more valuable asset you become.

Then, as a DevOps engineer, you will have to learn a lot on a daily basis. New tools, new technologies, new cloud offerings, and so on. You should approach those proactively and with passion. Otherwise, you will slowly but surely become someone whose skills are no longer needed.

And finally, passion and proactivity are your safe road for setting you up as an authority. You can and should develop a brand identity not only to stand out against the competition but also to build trust with your co-workers.

Conclusion

DevOps is not exactly rocket science. However, it requires an individual to have a lot of hard and soft skills. Some of which are really hard to gain and nurture.

DevOps engineers should be able to do a lot on the tech side of things — from using specific DevOps tools and managing infrastructure in the cloud to writing secure code and checking automation tests.

They should be individuals who are passionate about what they do and who are ready to deliver the enormous amounts of value. They should be curious and proactive, empathetic and assertive, reliable and consistent. They should be able to put customers’ needs above their team’s needs and take action when required.

The DevOps role is not easy, yet it is totally worth it to become a DevOps.

To take things off the ground, check how many of the DevOps skills featured in this article you have. And if you lack some of them, be proactive and start learning right now!