Now more than ever, organizations need DevOps professionals with validated skills and knowledge to support their digital transformation. DevOps methodologies, tools, and practices allow companies to accelerate the building and adoption of applications and services—a function so mission-critical that DevOps engineers are a growing presence within organizations large and small. Does that mean DevOps engineers need to earn certifications?
According to the DevOps Institute's Upskilling IT 2022 Report, the top five must-have processes and frameworks within IT enterprises are:
- DevOps and DevSecOps
- Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)
- Design Thinking and System Thinking
If you’re completely new to DevOps, start off by studying the following three areas:
- DevOps terminology (such as continuous delivery/continuous integration).
- DevOps processes (plan/code/build/test/package/release/operate).
- DevOps tools (get ready to learn Git!)
You should also master some of the core tools and programming languages used in a DevOps context, including Python, Kubernetes, Java, and Chef Infrastructure Automation. As you’re learning, you should also consider whether it’s worth earning some DevOps certifications.
Are DevOps Certifications in Demand?
DevOps certifications demonstrate that the engineer understands DevOps technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes, CI/CD tooling like Azure DevOps, Jenkins, Gitlab, Github, and the cloud technologies that power many modern enterprises. In particular, containers and Kubernetes pop up frequently within DevOps toolchains.
Getting certified can assure prospective employers that you have the DevOps skills necessary to succeed in the role. Steve Buchanan, author at Pluralsight, says someone starting out in DevOps should learn languages such as Terraform and at least one cloud (whether AWS, Azure, or Google), expanding to multiple clouds from there. “Both Azure and AWS have DevOps certifications specifically,” he explains. “This will give aspiring DevOps pros a great jumpstart.”
Fortunately, tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon also offer certifications that allow you to demonstrate your DevOps knowledge in the context of their respective clouds, including:
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional, $300, Duration of exam: 170 minutes
- Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert, Free or Instructor Led, 150 minutes
Here are some additional certifications that demonstrate the holder’s DevOps-related knowledge:
- Docker Certified Associate: $195, Duration of exam: 90 Minutes
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), $300, Duration of exam: 3 hours
- Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), Cost: $300, Duration of exam: 2 hours
What are the Benefits of DevOps Certifications?
Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute, points out that earning certifications is the only way for practitioners to formally prove they’ve studied their craft. “Experience counts for sure, but the experience is limited to the environment from which it was gained,” she says. “Training, education, and certification expose the learner to higher-level concepts that are portable between tools, domains and environments.”
The DevOps Institute has identified nine core competencies and offers 10 certifications to help companies advance their DevOps career options and help teams grow professionally. “Currently, the most in-demand certifications include Site Reliability Engineering Foundation, DevOps Foundation, Value Stream Management Foundation, Site Reliability Engineering Practitioner, and DevOps Leader,” Groll says.
The DevOps Foundation certification ensures technologists understand and can effectively communicate industry terminology and the core principles of DevOps.
The DevOps Leader certification is important for new professionals because it focuses on many of the human aspects of DevOps, such as transformational leadership, culture and behavioral change to drive DevOps success.
Is It Worth Getting a DevOps Certification?
Tomasz Nurkiewicz, CTO at DevSkiller, points out that a DevOps tech stack differs from company to company, so it’s good for a DevOps engineer to be as versatile and technology-agnostic as possible to stay competitive in the job market.
"With that in mind, for the top three DevOps certifications to acquire, I’d recommend one from each of the biggest cloud infrastructure providers, Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer, Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert, and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional."
Nurkiewicz adds that, with at least two out of those three, you should gain access to a variety of attractive job positions in the DevOps space nowadays: “You can further increase your value for your prospective employer by acquiring other certifications related to the DevOps role like Docker Certified Associate or Certified Kubernetes Administrator.”
These confirm not only that you’re skillful enough, but that you also have the drive necessary to keep on learning new skills to meet the changing demands of the IT industry. “Having said that, don’t forget that the term 'DevOps' covers quite a large variety of skills related to improving operational and development aspects of the software development lifecycle,” Nurkiewicz notes.
He recommends that, if you’re at the beginning of your career in this space, you should consider mastering one of the programming languages used for writing automation scripts like Python or Bash. Once you feel comfortable with your skills and understand the principles of server management, network security, and infrastructure monitoring, try to get your first hands-on professional experience in a junior DevOps role. "Only then does it make sense to further organize your knowledge and develop your skills by following one of the DevOps learning courses and acquiring a purely DevOps-related certification," he says.
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