Skip links

Top 5 Essential Skills for Becoming a DevOps Engineer

Jump To Section

Over the past few years, businesses have been investing more and more in the DevOps area, which has long since been out of the niche.

Essential Skills for a DevOps Engineer

Over the past few years, businesses have been investing more and more in the DevOps area, which has long since been out of the niche. Many young people without experience wonder what skills they should possess in order to be able to call themselves DevOps Engineers. Although this field is very broad, requiring a kind of expertise in many fields simultaneously, there are five skills that I consider to be the absolute foundation for a DevOps Engineer. Learning how to become a DevOps engineer is essential for those seeking to thrive in this rapidly evolving field.

Developing them actually provides a stable grounding for future professional advancement.

Exploring the Essence of DevOps Methodology

To understand what DevOps is, it is necessary to simplify the title DevOps Engineer to simply DevOps. But DevOps is not a person. DevOps is the entire process upon which our projects are built, and a DevOps Engineer is responsible for integrating that process, and any other improvements.
The process is endless and consists of alternating stages of Plan, Code, Build, Test, Deploy, Operate, and Monitor.

Essential Skills to Kickstart Your DevOps Engineer Career

Of course, the Code stage doesn’t necessarily mean that a DevOps Engineer needs to be a developer – that’s what we call “Full Stack DevOps”. But DevOps Engineers should pay attention to what tools are being used, give their recommendations for improvements, and create a place for code integration for all teams. In the same way, the stage Monitor doesn’t only refer to the application – we should monitor the whole process, project, team, and look for areas that we could improve to make life better for everyone.

This of course means that many of these areas are improved in collaboration with PMs, SMs, Architects, Team Leads, and even individual team members who are the main beneficiaries of the process.
For DevOps, the primary customer is the team, which is expected to benefit from the process. And a benefit to the team is a benefit to their customer as well.

Automation for Efficiency

A DevOps Engineer must be able to automate their work. Certain activities need to be done sometimes once a day and sometimes even once a year. Automation doesn’t mean that as DevOps Engineers we want to cater to our ‘laziness’ with automation. On the contrary, an important part of the whole process is to minimise situations where something may go wrong.

Imagine a situation where, in a project once every six months, you need to perform the generation of a specific certificate, on 20 servers. The documentation was created four years earlier; everything is described in a fairly precise way. Or so you think. So far, the job has been done by one person, manually, after working hours (to minimise the impact of changing certificates). Additionally, this person has to keep an eye on the certificate expiration dates by themselves.

There are plenty of red flags already at this stage:

What if they forget to keep track of the dates?
What if the calendar notification doesn’t alert them?
What if they get sick? Will someone else cover the documentation that hasn’t been kept up to date?
Does anyone else even have access to all the servers?

Situations like this shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately, they do, mostly when there is a lack of automation skills.
For the sake of a moment taken to cover this case, a DevOps Engineer would prepare a script that checks the expiration date of certificates, generate new certificates and propagate them to all servers at one time through some Infrastructure, as a Code tool. Thus, no one needs to worry about something going wrong along the way.

Unlocking the Complexity of CI/CD in DevOps

CI/CD is a practice that is another foundation in the whole DevOps process. It is responsible for taking the code from integration to deployment in the final environment. However, it takes DevOps Engineers some time to understand these practices, even though everything is described on the web. Unfortunately, what seems clear to many, in reality, can be highly simplified. Unfortunately, what seems clear to many, in reality, can be quite complicated.
Many factors affect the quality of these practices, and ultimately, the quality of the project as well.
Early detection of defects by checking integration and code quality, running automated tests, not only saves developers’ time but also ensures that what is deployed to the environment will not fail in any way. And in the case of any issues, the development team will know about them as soon as possible.

CI/CD relies heavily on the ability to automate through scripting, as there can be no mistakes in the entire process that the application will go through. Also, the source code of the application must be properly integrated and built. If we drop finished code into a test environment, we cannot allow it to be modified and sent to another environment immediately after testing has been completed.
The compiled code must always pass between environments without recompilation, and the environments must also be as close to each other as possible. If we change a factor, CI/CD practices are not complete, and we risk releasing a faulty product – which, after all, is not the point of using it.

Everything as a Code

With a GUI, mouse, and keyboard, we can often overuse the benefits of quickly “clicking” things out. Clicking “Build” in the IDE, dragging files to the server; changing the image version from the droplist on the environment; even entire CI/CD pipelines can now be clicked out to your liking. However, do we know who changed it and why? Sometimes yes, sometimes unfortunately no.

Coding CI/CD Pipelines and Infrastructures: Numerous Benefits

First of all, we can keep them in the code repository, where we know what, when, why, and by whom the relevant modification was made. We also know what the modification was all about. In the case of Infrastructure in Code, we can additionally make changes in the application dependent on changes in the infrastructure. Going further, we might as well simply create entire environments from scratch that are even 1:1 to other complex environments, simply by using the command line benefits and previously prepared templates.

The investment in writing everything in code makes it easy to track changes and duplicate the work if you really need it. Try to click out an entire environment from scratch or a new pipeline, when time is of the essence – code will always be faster than the mouse.
Cloud makes you great
More and more the world has become cloud-based, and the DevOps process seems to be perfect for such a world. Clouds are also constantly evolving, creating new services, updating older ones, and as such, you will always need someone to stay up to date on the topic. This task often falls to DevOps Engineers, and companies are relentlessly looking for such people when recruiting. Well, let’s be honest, a DevOps Engineer, of all people, will know best what pieces will work well with the whole process.

Unfortunately, entering the world of clouds as a DevOps Engineer requires a lot of work and sometimes even money. Cloud giants admittedly have trial accounts, but not all services are included, which generates additional costs. Fortunately, cloud leaders realise this and launch free e-learning platforms, i.e., Azure on Microsoft Learn.

Golden advice from me: Master one cloud and the transition to another will be fairly easy.

The differences aren’t as great as most people make it out to be, and whatever the case, the most important thing is to be able to navigate the documentation anyway. With basic skills, the cloud is wide open for you.

Picture of Piotr Trautman

Piotr Trautman

Latest Reads


Suggested Reading

Ready to Unlock Your Enterprise's Full Potential?

Vikas Krishan

Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region

Vikas (Vik) Krishan serves as the Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region for Altimetrik. He is responsible for leading and growing the company’s presence across new and existing client relationships within the region.

Vik is a seasoned executive and brings over 25 years of global experience in Financial Services, Digital, Management Consulting, Pre- and Post-deal services and large/ strategic transformational programmes, gained in a variety of senior global leadership roles at firms such as Globant, HCL, Wipro, Logica and EDS and started his career within Investment Banking. He has developed significant cross industry experience across a wide variety of verticals, with a particular focus on working with and advising the C-Suite of Financial Institutions, Private Equity firms and FinTech’s on strategy and growth, operational excellence, performance improvement and digital adoption.

He has served as the engagement lead on multiple global transactions to enable the orchestration of business, technology, and operational change to drive growth and client retention.

Vik, who is based in London, serves as a trustee for the Burma Star Memorial Fund, is a keen photographer and an avid sportsman.

Megan Farrell Herrmanns

Chief Digital Officer, US Central

Megan is a senior business executive with a passion for empowering customers to reach their highest potential. She has depth and breadth of experience working across large enterprise and commercial customers, and across technical and industry domains. With a track record of driving measurable results, she develops trusted relationships with client executives to drive organizational growth, unlock business value, and internalize the use of digital business as a differentiator.

At Altimetrik, Megan is responsible for expanding client relationships and developing new business opportunities in the US Central region. Her focus is on digital business and utilizing her experience to create high growth opportunities for clients. Moreover, she leads the company’s efforts in cultivating and enhancing our partnership with Salesforce, strategically positioning our business to capitalize on new business opportunities.

Prior to Altimetrik, Megan spent 10 years leading Customer Success at Salesforce, helping customers maximize the value of their investments across their technology stack. Prior to Salesforce, Megan spent over 15 years with Accenture, leading large transformational projects for enterprise customers.

Megan earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University. Beyond work, Megan enjoys playing sand volleyball, traveling, watching her kids soccer games, and is actively involved in a philanthropy (Advisory Council for Cradles to Crayons).

Adaptive Clinical Trial Designs: Modify trials based on interim results for faster identification of effective drugs.Identify effective drugs faster with data analytics and machine learning algorithms to analyze interim trial results and modify.
Real-World Evidence (RWE) Integration: Supplement trial data with real-world insights for drug effectiveness and safety.Supplement trial data with real-world insights for drug effectiveness and safety.
Biomarker Identification and Validation: Validate biomarkers predicting treatment response for targeted therapies.Utilize bioinformatics and computational biology to validate biomarkers predicting treatment response for targeted therapies.
Collaborative Clinical Research Networks: Establish networks for better patient recruitment and data sharing.Leverage cloud-based platforms and collaborative software to establish networks for better patient recruitment and data sharing.
Master Protocols and Basket Trials: Evaluate multiple drugs in one trial for efficient drug development.Implement electronic data capture systems and digital platforms to efficiently manage and evaluate multiple drugs or drug combinations within a single trial, enabling more streamlined drug development
Remote and Decentralized Trials: Embrace virtual trials for broader patient participation.Embrace telemedicine, virtual monitoring, and digital health tools to conduct remote and decentralized trials, allowing patients to participate from home and reducing the need for frequent in-person visits
Patient-Centric Trials: Design trials with patient needs in mind for better recruitment and retention.Develop patient-centric mobile apps and web portals that provide trial information, virtual support groups, and patient-reported outcome tracking to enhance patient engagement, recruitment, and retention
Regulatory Engagement and Expedited Review Pathways: Engage regulators early for faster approvals.Utilize digital communication tools to engage regulatory agencies early in the drug development process, enabling faster feedback and exploration of expedited review pathways for accelerated approvals
Companion Diagnostics Development: Develop diagnostics for targeted recruitment and personalized treatment.Implement bioinformatics and genomics technologies to develop companion diagnostics that can identify patient subpopulations likely to benefit from the drug, aiding in targeted recruitment and personalized treatment
Data Standardization and Interoperability: Ensure seamless data exchange among research sites.Utilize interoperable electronic health record systems and health data standards to ensure seamless data exchange among different research sites, promoting efficient data aggregation and analysis
Use of AI and Predictive Analytics: Apply AI for drug candidate identification and data analysis.Leverage AI algorithms and predictive analytics to analyze large datasets, identify potential drug candidates, optimize trial designs, and predict treatment outcomes, accelerating the drug development process
R&D Investments: Improve the drug or expand indicationsUtilize computational modelling and simulation techniques to accelerate drug discovery and optimize drug development processes