Blog DevOps How to begin your DevOps journey
Published on: January 13, 2022
7 min read

How to begin your DevOps journey

So you want a career in DevOps? These easy and affordable opportunities will let you get started today.


DevOps is a hot career track. The DevOps industry is projected by IDC to be at $17.7 billion in revenue by 2024. Such growth requires more DevOps practitioners in all realms. Yet, due to the speed of change in DevOps, students are generally not learning DevOps skills and workflows while in a degree program. That doesn’t mean you have to wait to gain these critical skills. We share how to get the skills you need now.

Why early exposure to DevOps is important

By learning DevOps early on in their education, students can drastically shorten the typical six-years-or-more timeline to becoming a DevOps professional. In our GitLab for Education Survey, 40% of student respondents answered that DevOps is critical for workforce readiness and 45% viewed the ability to build a portfolio and record of contributions as a top benefit of using DevOps while in school.

Students and young professionals learning to code with the same approach they will use in the industry gives them a jump on their careers and makes the transition from the classroom to a DevOps culture that much easier. It can also help to accelerate the digital transformation as newly onboarded employees begin to spread the benefits of iterating faster, innovating together, and increasing deployment velocity.

Here’s how to get a headstart on learning DevOps.

1. Bring DevOps to your classroom

If your university and professors are not currently teaching DevOps or using DevOps tools in your classes, don't worry, we've got a blog post that covers 5 easy ways to bring DevOps into your classroom. Learn about how our GitLab for Education team can visit your classroom and give a guest lecture on DevOps or a workshop. And how our GitLab for Education Program offers free, top-tier, unlimited licenses to qualifying institutions. Students can also sign up individually for GitLab’s free tier.

2. Explore DevOps on your own

Exploring DevOps on your own is a great way to extend your knowledge, gain different perspectives, and build on top of your degree.

DevOps as a discipline, platform, and culture is ever-evolving. With social media, tech publications, case studies, and blog posts there is no shortage of content for you to access. It is easy to tune into industry conversations on Twitter and elsewhere to stay on the cutting edge. We recommend getting started by reading some of our GitLab blogs or blogs from other organizations in the DevOps space that catch your eye.

For instance, follow Developer Evangelists or Developer Relations professionals, known as DevRels, from your favorite organizations, and see what they are sharing. Don’t worry about understanding all the details at first, just look for the high-level points, the tools they discuss, and general industry trends. Follow Michael Friedrich, GitLab Developer Evangelist, to learn about all things DevOps, especially CI/CD, monitoring, and observability, and follow Abubakar Siddiq Ango, GitLab Developer Evangelism Program Manager, to learn about DevSecOps with a focus on the Cloud Native Ecosystem.

3. Start networking

There is no better way to get excited about DevOps and its potential than through networking with other DevOps professionals and enthusiasts.

  • Meetups. Tech companies in the DevOps space host monthly meetups (in-person and virtual), where professionals and community members alike listen to a short talk and then engage in a Q&A. These meetups provide opportunities for networking as well. At GitLab, you can see our upcoming events and register for free or sign up to host one for your classmates or teammates. (We are here to help](/community/meetups/) and get you started.

  • Conferences. GitLab‘s annual user conference, GitLab Commit, showcases amazing presentations from customers across all industries and community members from all over the world, along with breakout sessions so you can network. Keep an eye out for the next one in September and view the playlist from GitLab Commit 2021. Also DevOps Days, a series of free technical conferences around the world, lets you mingle with DevOps professionals and learn more about the industry.

4. Get hands-on with DevOps tools and platforms

Ready to jump in? Gaining hands-on experience is the fastest way to start your journey, and you don’t need an internship or job to access tools. If you are a current student or early professional, you can begin to build a portfolio of projects on GitLab or your platform of choice. Even simple projects, such as creating a Twitter bot or Python script, can be done in a source control management system like GitLab.

Store relevant homework, course projects, capstone projects, and side projects in one central repository and your future employers will be able to see your portfolio and how your skills have progressed over time. With GitLab pages, you can even publish your resume and keep a journal of blog posts documenting your journey in DevOps.

As example, check out the profile page of PJ Metz, GitLab Education Evangelist. Notice everything he’s worked on is right there and you can click to see his commits and merge requests. The earlier you start to build a portfolio, the more you’ll have to share with potential employers

5. Contribute to the open source community

Another great way to gain experience is to contribute to open source projects. Students and young professionals often aren't aware of the value of contributing to open source projects, haven’t considered it, or maybe think that you need high-level developer skills to contribute.

By nature, anyone who has very basic technical skills can contribute to an open source project at some level. Most open source projects have resources available for new contributors or first-time contributors, including a “Getting Started” guide or a list of contributions needed. Contributions aren’t limited to expert coders; open source communities accept input from a variety of skill levels and experience. For example, new contributors can work on documentation and language translation. Minor UX changes or bug fixes are also great first contributions.

Additionally, many open source projects often have engaged communities that are invested in helping new contributors learn and grow their skills. This set of unique characteristics makes contributing to open source projects a great starting point for people from diverse backgrounds.

GitLab is an open core platform with a vibrant community. We have over 10,000 merge requests from the wider community with an average of 250 contributors per month. You can contribute to GitLab in three ways:

  • Fix bugs
  • Add to documentation
  • Translate our docs and products to different languages

We make contributing very easy and accessible to first-time contributors. We even label each issue with quick win.  Our quarterly hackathons enable you to network with our community, meet merge request coaches, attend meetups, and win sweet swag prizes. For more, check out our #contributors channel on Discord.

6. Earn some industry credentials

After getting your feet wet and building skills on your own, you may also be interested in adding some more formal credentials to your resume. Courses and certificate programs are a great way to add to your degree or work on professional development early in your career. Certifications are generally achieved after gaining some hands-on experience and working in the field.

  • DevOps courses. Most online learning platforms, such as Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning have some form of DevOps course. For example, LinkedIn Learning has a free DevOps foundations course.

  • DevOps certifications. If you have some experience under your belt and are interested in a more formal path, a DevOps certification could be of interest to you. DevOps certification is an accredited credential that is earned by demonstrating some specific skills and subject matter that are required to work in the DevOps profession. These credentials are earned by taking courses, passing assessments, and participating in performance reviews, or providing work samples. DevOps certifications can be specific to a certain tool, such as the Docker Certified Associate or Kubernetes Certification. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, also offers a Certified DevOps Engineer Exam. Some DevOps certifications are more tool- and platform-agnostic such as those offered by the DevOps Institute.

GitLab has a learning platform with several courses and certification pathways, including a GitLab Certified Associate, GitLab Certified CI/CD Specialist, and GitLab DevOps Professional. See our full list or sign up to learn more.

Wherever you are on your journey to becoming a DevOps professional, these resources should help you move forward and learn more about this exciting aspect of software development.

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