The top skills you need to get your DevOps dream job or a higher salary

Nov 17, 2021 · 4 min read · Leave a comment
Sharon Gaudin GitLab profile

If you’re looking to transform your job, your salary and your ability to get a job with your dream company, there are some skills you need to add to your toolkit.

DevOps is a rapidly changing field. Automation is booming. There’s an increasing focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), along with moving security to the left. And there’s a call to master an ever-growing list of programming languages. Face it, DevOps professionals need to be in a constant learning mode. If you’re picking up new expertise, you’re likely going to find yourself in a coveted position since companies are struggling to fill jobs with DevOps professionals who have the latest skills. 

So what technologies should you consider adding to your toolbelt? Of course, you need to take stock of your own skill set, experiences and certifications, and compare all of that to what your company, or your dream company, might need. Here’s a helpful list of considerations.

Expand your programming languages

So when it comes to figuring out what programming languages you should know, it’s a lengthy list to cull through. What would most benefit your company? And what would benefit a potential employer?

The DevOps Institute noted in its 2021 Upskilling Enterprise DevOps Skills Report that it’s smart for developers to make sure they don’t specialize in a single language. 

According to the Stack Overflow survey, developers who are already working with other programming languages are most interested in learning Python, JavaScript and Go. And Brendan O’Leary, a staff developer evangelist, and product and engineering leader at GitLab, advised that developers should learn Go and Rust, which are both useful for building in memory safety.

Even if you’re programming with a popular but common language like JavaScript or C++ currently, that doesn’t mean you can’t showcase other languages on your resume through contributions to open source projects or by volunteering your coding time.

Understand the role of automation

The DevOps Institute’s survey noted that automation tool knowledge is a “must-have.” And out of all the automation skills, the report listed the top five as continuous integration (78 percent), continuous delivery (77 percent), continuous deployment (72 percent), continuous operation and support (62 percent), and DevSecOps (56 percent). 

If your current team’s process isn’t highly automated, don’t fear – there are lots of learning options to the rescue. A quick search on YouTube found more than 100 videos on continuous deployment, as just one example. Most large companies offer their own training tracks (and we do too) and, of course, there are lots of certification programs as well.

Bone up on other key DevOps skills

The third-highest ranked skill domain is technical skills, according to the DevOps Institute. It’s a broad category, but there are core technical skills, like having an understanding of cloud platforms, CI/CD and monitoring, along with operating systems, containers, big data, data analysis and microservices that will be important to nearly any employer.

In our 2021 Global DevSecOps Survey, developers told us there were a lot of technologies they’d like to dig into, including GitOps, IoT/blockchain, cloud/cloud native, cross-platform development, low code, data science, Python and cryptography.

That tracks with what The DevOps Institute found; the top seven technologies that organizations plan to implement over the next two years include IT automation technology, Gigabit Wi-Fi networking, Internet of Things, virtual desktop infrastructure, converged/hyperconverged infrastructure, container technology and serverless computing. 

Dig into security

A developer who not only understands security but can write the tests and prioritize the fixes is going to be incredibly attractive to a DevOps team looking to shift security firmly to the left. Job swapping or shadowing the security team is one way to build this knowledge base. Finding the dev team’s security champion and doing what they do also works. Finally, there’s a practical and actionable podcast called The Secure Developer that offers advice from a wide variety of developer pros and security pros on how to up your security game.

Focus on AI and ML

Our AI overlords are coming, so it’s best to be prepared. While we’re only sort of kidding, it’s completely clear that AI and ML are showing up in DevOps in a surprising variety of ways, including testing, analysis and monitoring. 

AI and ML are most likely to arrive first in the testing arena; our survey showed that 75 percent of teams are either using AI and ML or bots for testing and code review, or they’re planning to – up from 41 percent the year before. So that’s an obvious place to focus your energies. 

Jump in and explore learning opportunities

It’s about continuous education. Whether your company offers you opportunities to earn new certifications and master new languages, or you have to DIY, you need to figure out a way to keep learning. Keep adding to your skill set and resume. 

“Continuing to educate yourself is critical,” said GitLab’s O’Leary. “There are always new technologies, new languages, new skills to be learned. Companies need someone who is flexible and can solve problems. Mastering new technologies is one of the more important things you can do for yourself.”

Cover image by Green Chameleon on Unsplash.

“Want a bigger #salary, that promotion you’ve been wanting or even that dream job? We'll walk you through the skills you need to add to your toolkit.” – Sharon Gaudin

Click to tweet

Git is a trademark of Software Freedom Conservancy and our use of 'GitLab' is under license