Great guest post by Michael Diver, from Software Placements

How Do I Become a DevOps Engineer?

I’ve had a few conversations with several intermediate and senior software engineers recently about what steps they should take to move towards becoming a DevOps Engineer. It’s a great question because the job title of DevOps Engineer didn’t really exist when I moved into IT Engineering recruitment almost five years ago. I decided to share my thoughts on this from my perspective as a recruiter in the DevOps area.

What do I need?

Ideally, a good DevOps Engineer will have a rounded experience in the areas of systems administration, software development, deployment and release management. I could go into more detail and probably initiate a debate on the micro requirements but let’s keep it general for the purpose of this blog. For most IT Engineers, they will excel in one or two of the above but probably not all four. The next move is to gain knowledge or experience in the other 2-3 areas.

Where do I start?

An initial online course is recommended as a starting point but gaining practical commercial experience is essential.

The most logical route is to approach your current employer and ask to move into a DevOps position. There will be some success in taking this route, depending on current openings and requirements within the company and the company’s attitude to upskilling.

If a permanent move is not on the cards, you can ask your manager to allow you to work in the DevOps team for a period of time each week. This could be 1 – 2 days, 2 half days – whatever is suitable to your employer. Alternatively, ask for a temporary move into another department that is relevant to DevOps (i.e., a software developer could move into a system administration role) for, say, a period of 3-6 months. This will prove to be a very beneficial option as you will get the opportunity to learn the desired technical skills as well as network with DevOps Engineers within your company.

What is my approach?

This is tricky. Most managers will be reluctant to part with skilled engineers, especially in a time where there is a substantial shortage of skilled professionals in the market. If you have a good relationship with your manager, approach them directly in a positive manner and explain that you would like to expand your technical skills base in the DevOps area. Prepare your case in advance and show that you have put a lot of thought into the request.

If you do not like the direct approach you should wait until your periodic review and request that upskilling your DevOps experience be built into your training plan at your review meeting. As mentioned previously, requesting 1 day a week in DevOps or in another specialised IT areas is reasonable and shows drive and ambition from you. You’ll probably be met with (hopefully) enthusiasm, especially from the HR/training team.

Chances are that your company is progressive and forward thinking and your wish will be granted!

I hope the above is helpful in some small way to anyone hoping to move into DevOps. I’d love to hear your comments on whether you agree with the above or if there are any tweaks/corrections you’d make based on prior experience.


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