Key DevOps Engineer Skills You Need in 2024

Written by: Tushar Bisht - CTO at Scaler Academy & InterviewBit
18 Min Read

Contents

The DevOps movement continues to revolutionize software development. By bridging the gap between development and operations, DevOps engineers ensure a smooth and efficient software delivery process. In today’s fast-paced tech landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. This need is further emphasized by the booming job market for DevOps engineers. For instance, Zippia reports that there are over 257,025 active DevOps engineer job openings in the US alone. This significant number of open positions underscores the current skills gap and the need for qualified professionals.

This guide explores the essential technical and soft skills that will empower you to thrive as a DevOps engineer. We’ll delve into the tools, technologies, and approaches that separate high-performing DevOps engineers from the pack.

What Does a DevOps Engineer Do?

DevOps engineers are the IT specialists who act as a bridge between development and operations teams. They streamline the software delivery pipeline by automating tasks, implementing continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices, and ensuring infrastructure reliability. DevOps engineers are responsible for creating, testing, and deploying software applications efficiently, fostering collaboration across teams, and ensuring applications run smoothly in production.

What Does a DevOps Engineer Do

Core Technical DevOps Skills

Now that we understand the critical role of DevOps engineers, let’s look into the core technical skills they need to master. These skills form the foundation for automating tasks, building robust pipelines, and ensuring efficient software delivery.

Core Technical DevOps Skills

1. Linux Fundamentals

A strong understanding of Linux, the dominant operating system in server environments, is essential for DevOps engineers. It allows them to navigate servers, manage files, and interact with the underlying infrastructure that supports their tools and applications.

Importance: Proficiency in Linux enables DevOps engineers to automate tasks using shell scripts, manage user permissions, and troubleshoot infrastructure issues effectively.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Basic Linux commands (navigation, file manipulation, permissions)
  • Working with the shell and shell scripting (optional) for automation
  • Package management with tools like yum or apt

2. Programming and Scripting Languages

DevOps engineers leverage programming and scripting languages to automate tasks, build deployment pipelines, and interact with APIs. While specific languages may vary, core scripting abilities are essential.

Importance: Scripting empowers DevOps engineers to automate repetitive tasks, reducing human error and improving efficiency. Languages like Python or Ruby provide powerful tools for automating infrastructure management and application deployment.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Python (versatile and popular for scripting and automation)
  • Bash scripting (Linux shell scripting)
  • Optionally: Ruby (used in tools like Puppet) or other scripting languages relevant to specific DevOps tools

3. Version Control Systems (Git)

Git is a distributed version control system that allows DevOps engineers to track code changes, collaborate effectively with developers, and revert to previous versions if necessary.

Importance: Git ensures project code and configurations are well-organized, traceable, and recoverable in case of errors. It also promotes collaboration by enabling multiple engineers to work on the same project simultaneously.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Git fundamentals (adding, committing, pushing, pulling)
  • Branching and merging strategies
  • Working with remote repositories (GitHub, GitLab)
  • Utilizing Git features for collaboration (pull requests, code reviews)

4. Configuration Management Tools

Configuration management tools like Ansible, Chef, or Puppet help DevOps engineers automate the process of configuring and maintaining servers and infrastructure in a consistent and repeatable way.

Importance: Configuration management ensures infrastructure environments are configured identically, reducing errors and simplifying management. It allows engineers to define configurations as code, enabling version control and easier collaboration.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Popular configuration management tools (Ansible, Chef, Puppet)
  • Writing configuration files in the specific language of your chosen tool
  • Using variables and conditionals within configurations for flexibility

5. Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the practice of managing infrastructure (servers, networks, etc.) using code. This code defines the desired state of the infrastructure, allowing for automated provisioning and configuration.

Importance: IaC promotes infrastructure consistency, repeatability, and version control. It enables DevOps engineers to treat infrastructure like software, facilitating collaboration and rapid deployment.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • IaC principles and methodologies
  • Popular IaC tools (Terraform, CloudFormation, Ansible)
  • Writing IaC code to define infrastructure configurations

6. Containerization Technologies (Docker, Kubernetes)

Containerization technologies like Docker package applications and their dependencies into standardized units (containers) that can run consistently across different environments. Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that manages the deployment, scaling, and networking of containerized applications.

Importance: Containers enable portable, lightweight deployments of applications. Kubernetes simplifies the management of complex containerized deployments at scale.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Docker basics (containers, images, registries)
  • Building and deploying containerized applications
  • Fundamentals of Kubernetes (pods, deployments, services)
  • Managing containerized applications with Kubernetes

Advanced Technical DevOps Skills

As you progress in your DevOps journey, mastering these advanced technical skills will equip you to handle complex deployments, manage large-scale infrastructure, and optimize the software delivery pipeline.

advanced technical devops skills

7. Continuous Integration & Delivery (CI/CD)

CI/CD refers to a set of practices that automate the software delivery pipeline. Code changes are continuously integrated into a version control system, triggering automated builds, tests, and deployments.

Importance: CI/CD streamlines software delivery, enabling faster feedback loops and reducing the risk of errors. It allows DevOps engineers to deliver features and fixes more frequently.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • CI/CD principles and methodologies (CI vs CD, pipelines)
  • Popular CI/CD tools (Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, CircleCI)
  • Designing and implementing CI/CD pipelines for your applications

8. Monitoring & Alerting Tools

Monitoring and alerting tools enable DevOps engineers to proactively monitor the health and performance of applications and infrastructure. These tools generate alerts when issues arise, allowing for quick troubleshooting and resolution.

Importance: Effective monitoring ensures applications are running smoothly and identifies potential problems before they impact users. Alerting empowers DevOps engineers to react quickly to critical issues.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Popular monitoring tools (Prometheus, Grafana, ELK Stack)
  • Setting up monitoring for applications and infrastructure metrics
  • Configuring alerts to notify engineers of potential issues

9. Infrastructure Automation Tools (Terraform)

While IaC encompasses various tools, Terraform has become a popular choice for its versatility and ease of use. Terraform allows you to define infrastructure configurations in a human-readable format (HCL) and automate provisioning across multiple cloud providers.

Importance: Terraform simplifies IaC by offering a consistent syntax for defining infrastructure across different cloud platforms. This promotes reusability and reduces the risk of errors in infrastructure provisioning.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Terraform configuration language (HCL)
  • Writing Terraform code to define cloud infrastructure resources
  • Using Terraform modules for code reusability and modularity

10. API Integration & Automation Skills

Modern applications often interact with various APIs to access data and services. DevOps engineers with API integration and automation skills can streamline data flow and automate tasks that involve interacting with APIs.

Importance: Understanding APIs and automation techniques empowers DevOps engineers to build efficient integrations between applications and automate repetitive tasks that involve interacting with external APIs.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • API fundamentals (REST APIs, API requests and responses)
  • Tools for API testing and automation (Postman)
  • Scripting languages for interacting with APIs (Python, Bash)

11. Cloud Computing Platforms

Cloud computing platforms like AWS, Azure, and GCP offer scalable and cost-effective solutions for deploying and managing infrastructure and applications. Understanding these platforms is crucial for modern DevOps engineers.

Importance: Cloud adoption is prevalent. Familiarity with cloud platforms empowers DevOps engineers to leverage cloud services for infrastructure provisioning, container orchestration, and deploying applications in a scalable and elastic manner.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Cloud computing concepts (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS)
  • Popular cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, GCP)
  • Deploying and managing infrastructure and applications on cloud platforms
  • Cloud-specific DevOps tooling and services

12. Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are paramount concerns in the DevOps world. DevOps engineers need to be aware of security best practices and ensure deployments comply with relevant regulations.

Importance: Security vulnerabilities can have severe consequences. Understanding security principles and incorporating them into the software delivery pipeline is crucial. Compliance with industry regulations is often mandatory for specific industries.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Security best practices for DevOps (secure coding, infrastructure security)
  • Compliance requirements for your industry (HIPAA, PCI DSS)
  • Integrating security testing into the CI/CD pipeline

13. Computer Networking Fundamentals

A solid understanding of computer networking fundamentals equips DevOps engineers to troubleshoot network connectivity issues, configure firewalls, and ensure applications can communicate effectively.

Importance: Applications often rely on network resources. Basic networking knowledge empowers DevOps engineers to identify and resolve network-related problems that might impact deployments or application functionality.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Networking basics (IP addresses, protocols, firewalls)
  • Understanding different network topologies (LAN, WAN)
  • Troubleshooting basic network connectivity issues

14. Testing & Quality Assurance

While not solely a DevOps responsibility, collaboration with QA teams is essential. Understanding testing methodologies and tools can empower DevOps engineers to integrate automated testing into the CI/CD pipeline for faster feedback and improved software quality.

Importance: Testing is crucial for ensuring software functionality and catching bugs before they reach production. DevOps engineers can contribute by automating tests and integrating them into the CI/CD pipeline to deliver higher quality software faster.

Top Topics to Learn:

  • Testing methodologies (unit testing, integration testing)
  • Automated testing tools (Selenium, JUnit)
  • Integrating automated testing into CI/CD pipelines

Soft Skills Required for DevOps Engineers

Beyond technical expertise, successful DevOps engineers possess strong soft skills that enable them to thrive in a collaborative environment. Here are some key areas to develop:

soft skills required for devops engineers

15. Communication

DevOps engineers act as a bridge between development, operations, and sometimes even business stakeholders.  The ability to clearly communicate technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences is essential. This includes explaining issues, proposing solutions, and documenting processes effectively.

16. Collaboration & Teamwork

DevOps is a team sport. Working effectively with developers, operations specialists, security teams, and other stakeholders is crucial for project success.  DevOps engineers need to actively listen, understand different perspectives, and collaborate to achieve shared goals.

17. Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking

Troubleshooting complex infrastructure and application issues is a core responsibility of DevOps engineers.  Analytical thinking skills and the ability to break down problems into manageable steps are essential for identifying root causes and developing effective solutions.

18. Customer-Focused Approach

Ultimately, DevOps engineers work to deliver applications that provide value to end-users.  Maintaining a customer-centric mindset encourages them to focus on building reliable, maintainable, and user-friendly applications. This might involve understanding user needs, gathering feedback, and continuously improving the software delivery process.

19. Agile Methodologies

Agile methodologies are the cornerstone of DevOps practices. Understanding these principles allows you to streamline development processes, iterate rapidly, and respond effectively to evolving requirements. Being well-versed in methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, or Lean ensures your work aligns with broader development and operational strategies. 

20. Organizational Skills

The DevOps world can be a complex and dynamic place. To keep everything in order and make sure that everything runs smoothly, one needs strong organizational skills. You will be in charge of overseeing a wide range of tools, scripts, configurations, and infrastructure as a DevOps engineer. 

How to Develop These DevOps Skills? – Scaler DevOps Course Can Help!

Equipping yourself with the necessary DevOps skills requires dedication and continuous learning. Here are some effective approaches.

  • Formal Education: While not mandatory, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field can provide a strong foundation. However, the field is rapidly evolving, and practical experience is often valued more. Consider bootcamps as an alternative path to gaining relevant skills quickly.
  • Scaler DevOps Course: Scaler’s comprehensive DevOps course can accelerate your DevOps knowledge and skills. This intensive program covers both the essential technical skills (Linux, scripting, CI/CD, cloud platforms) and the in-demand soft skills (communication, collaboration, problem-solving) required to thrive in the field. Through a blend of video lectures, hands-on labs, and industry projects, you’ll gain practical experience and build a portfolio to showcase your capabilities.
scaler devops course

Remember, the DevOps landscape is constantly evolving. Scaler’s curriculum stays up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, ensuring you develop the skills that are most relevant and sought-after in today’s job market. By combining Scaler’s comprehensive training with additional resources and hands-on experience, you can effectively develop the skills you need to become a successful DevOps engineer.

Conclusion

The DevOps movement is transforming software development. By mastering the essential technical and soft skills explored in this guide, you can position yourself for a rewarding career as a DevOps engineer.  Remember, continuous learning is key to staying ahead of the curve in this dynamic field.  Scaler DevOps, along with your dedication and initiative, can equip you with the tools and knowledge to thrive in the exciting world of DevOps.

FAQs

Are DevOps skills in demand?

Absolutely! DevOps skills are highly sought-after across various industries. The demand for skilled DevOps engineers continues to grow as companies strive for faster software delivery and more efficient IT operations.

Does DevOps need coding skills?

Yes, some coding skills are essential for DevOps engineers. While the specific languages may vary, proficiency in scripting languages like Python or Bash is necessary for automating tasks and interacting with DevOps tools.

Is Linux certification necessary to become a DevOps engineer?

Linux certification is not mandatory, but a strong understanding of Linux is crucial. Since Linux is the dominant operating system in server environments, DevOps engineers leverage it for server management, configuration, and interacting with the underlying infrastructure.

How can I gain experience with CI/CD pipelines if I’m new to the field?

  • Online Resources: Numerous platforms offer tutorials and sandbox environments to experiment with CI/CD tools like Jenkins or GitLab CI/CD.
  • Open-Source Projects: Look for open-source projects that utilize CI/CD pipelines. Contributing to these projects allows you to learn from experienced developers and gain practical experience.
  • Scaler DevOps Course: Scaler’s curriculum includes hands-on labs and projects that provide practical experience with CI/CD pipelines, giving you a solid foundation for building and implementing them.

Which cloud platform (AWS, Azure, GCP) should I learn for a DevOps career?

Familiarity with at least one major cloud platform is beneficial. AWS, Azure, and GCP are all prominent options. Consider factors like your career goals, industry trends, and any existing company preferences you might have when choosing a platform to focus on initially. Scaler’s course covers core DevOps concepts applicable across cloud platforms, while also providing introductions to popular services from AWS, Azure, and GCP.

Is it beneficial to get certified in specific DevOps tools (e.g., Kubernetes)?

While certifications are not always mandatory, they can validate your skills and knowledge to potential employers. Certifications for in-demand DevOps tools like Kubernetes can demonstrate your proficiency and make you a more competitive candidate. Scaler can advise you on relevant certifications to pursue based on your career goals and the specific tools you plan to specialize in.

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By Tushar Bisht CTO at Scaler Academy & InterviewBit
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Tushar Bisht is the tech wizard behind the curtain at Scaler, holding the fort as the Chief Technology Officer. In his realm, innovation isn't just a buzzword—it's the daily bread. Tushar doesn't just push the envelope; he redesigns it, ensuring Scaler remains at the cutting edge of the education tech world. His leadership not only powers the tech that drives Scaler but also inspires a team of bright minds to turn ambitious ideas into reality. Tushar's role as CTO is more than a title—it's a mission to redefine what's possible in tech education.
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