DevOps: You Can Make a Boatload of Money Doing ... Something

Hey, you. You wanna know where the money is?


Programming and looking intent

What a dumb question. You're reading a GoCertify article. Of COURSE you want to know where the money is. Well, good news; we've found the money, and it's in DevOps. Now we just need to figure out what DevOps is.


Like a lot of the newer disciplines, DevOps isn't always easy to define, but (to quote Justice Potter Stewart), "I know it when I see it." Employers also know it when they see it, hence the high salary. The simplest definition I could give would be that DevOps is a development strategy in which all teams with a hand in a given product's creation cooperate extensively throughout the entire life of the product, from design to retirement.


One team, one plan, one goal, with good communication and strong ownership from beginning to end. DevOps does not acknowledge small teams with specific tasks; in a manner similar to Scrum, everybody's on the same team. For those of you who are familiar with Agile, DevOps shares much of its blood with that doctrine.


Being hard to define hasn't seemed to hurt DevOps' popularity, though. While not everybody loves this integrated way of doing things, those who are opposed to it tend to voice their opinions in the same breath as they concede its inevitability. The growing popularity of the practice has led to the formation of the DevOps institute — even though that august body freely admits that it doesn't know what DevOps is, either. It does, however, offer instruction courses on Agile and DevOps, so it's about as much of an authority on it as you can find.


It's difficult not to notice that tech education is not keeping up with the demand for tech workers, but in no field does this show through more strongly than DevOps. Barely half of all DevOps engineers have bachelor's degrees, and yet their median salary is over $100,000. In case you missed that; high school graduates without any higher education are earning six figures because they were smart enough or lucky enough to get into DevOps. Yeah, we found the money.


OK then, let's say you want to get hired has a DevOps ... uh ... practitioner, or whatever. What can you put on your resume to get it looked at? Well, let's start with what won't help you a whole lot: a degree. As in every other situation, a degree may well tip the scale in an "all other things being equal" situation, but it's not going to get you chosen over a non-graduate with experience.


What kind of experience? Well ... all of it. Have a solid background in development (but with the skill to deploy and maintain code), or be a SysAdmin who knows how to code. That's really the whole idea behind DevOps: integration between administration and development.


Beyond the general background, there are specific skills you can use to make yourself more attractive to a potential employer. Knowledge of IT automation tools is one such skill; if you have the opportunity to get familiar with Chef, Ansible, or Puppet, you should do so (for more on Puppet, check out our article from earlier this year).


For your programming skills, make sure you know how to develop for the cloud, especially deployment on one of the more popular clouds. If you don't have a portfolio of useful open-source solutions, then you might want to start building one. Finally, and this should be a no-brainer for you SysAdmins, but know your databases. Data management is very important to most companies. You should know how to build and maintain a working database, and how to troubleshoot when things go wrong.


And, of course, certifications never hurt. As briefly mentioned above, the DevOps Institute offers two 16-hour courses on DevOps and Agile respectively, which you can learn more about here.


While it's true that DevOps isn't going anywhere anytime soon, if you're genuinely interested, then you'd better get started. Regardless of whether you end up as a Doctor of DevOps or not, the skills you'll learn will be useful anywhere.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
David Telford

David Telford is a short-attention-span renaissance man and university student. His current project is the card game MatchTags, which you can find on Facebook and Kickstarter.