DevOps careers and job opportunities: What you need to know

For professionals who have or are able to obtain security clearances, the IT sector offers many great opportunities for varied, high-paying careers with the potential for advancement. These individuals will be tasked with handling organisations' most sensitive data, so will be required to demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness as well as strong technical skills.

While there are a wide variety of jobs in this sector that will be in-demand among employers looking for security cleared personnel, one major trend at the moment is for professionals with DevOps skills. So if you have experience in this area, or are looking to transition into the world of IT, these opportunities could be especially useful.

What is a DevOps engineer?

DevOps is an area of IT that has grown hugely in popularity in the last few years. A combination of development and operations, it refers to a collection of philosophies and working practices that aim to shorten software development cycles and ensure continuous delivery of high-quality applications.

Under this way of working, projects are constantly being evaluated, iterated and improved. This compares with traditional development processes that follow a more rigid, step-by-step development process before entering operations.

What does a DevOps engineer do?

The main role of a DevOps professional is to work alongside software developers, systems administrators and IT operations staff to oversee the development and release of applications. They look to break down any barriers between various departments and create a more collaborative environment, which is essential if continuous delivery strategies are to be successful. 

Common day-to-day responsibilities for DevOps engineers include:

  • Designing tools and processes for software development
  • Working on multiple platforms across various programming languages
  • Automating testing and deployment processes
  • Supporting stakeholders across different platforms
  • Creating tools and processes to improve the application's user experience
  • Managing version control

As well as technical expertise, essential skills for a DevOps engineer role include project management, communication and adaptability. As these individuals are often in charge of diverse teams of professionals with multiple specialities, leadership and empathy and also must-haves.

Does a DevOps engineer code?

The role of a DevOps architect is about more than management however, and strong technical skills are a must. Although a DevOps engineer may not usually be expected to work building code on a day-to-day basis, as this is the job of the software development team, they are expected to manage the release and update of code.

Because of this, a high level of coding skill is a must. Some of the common programming languages that a DevOps software developer will need experience in include:

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • C/C++

Is DevOps the same as cloud?

DevOps practices are often talked about alongside cloud computing jobs, but while the two are closely related - and both seek to break down traditional IT barriers such as silos - they are not interchangeable. While a DevOps foundation may well be built and stored in the cloud, this tool is not essential for success.

Nevertheless, many of the tools that are vital to the success of DevOps, such as automation, do often use cloud computing services, so a working knowledge of these technologies will be a highly useful asset for anyone looking for DevOps jobs.

How do you start a DevOps career?

DevOps jobs offer the promise of high salaries, varied and interesting work, and the opportunity for advancement. But if you're coming to this sector for the first time, how can you ensure you've got the skills employers are looking for and ensure you're attractive to recruiters?

What should I learn first in DevOps?

If you're looking for DevOps jobs, a degree in a relevant field such as computer science (usually at least 2:1 level) is often advantageous. However, it's not a necessity, as evidence of experience within IT or a similar field will also be considered valuable.

Industry qualifications such as specific DevOps certification training also demonstrate your competency to recruiters. Some of the most useful and in-demand qualifications include:

  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
  • Microsoft Azure DevOps Solution Certification Exam
  • Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer by Google Cloud Platform
  • CNCF Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)

Is it hard to get into DevOps?

DevOps is an area that requires time and dedication. The responsibilities of a DevOps engineer are wide-ranging and demanding, yet can be very rewarding. It's a holistic approach to IT, so you'll need to be prepared to build your soft skills in addition to harder coding capabilities.

As well as academic or industry qualifications, common starting paths for DevOps professionals include a background in systems administration or as a software engineer. If you are a beginner, you'll need patience, as it can take several months to build the skills recruiters expect.

What is next after DevOps?

Professionals with experience in DevOps practices and continuous integration will find plentiful opportunities for career advancement. Those who start out at lower levels such as release manager or DevOps test engineers can move on to roles such as cloud engineer or DevOps architect.

As DevOps requires a wide range of skills, it can also set you up well to move into other areas, such as consulting, senior software engineer jobs or executive roles such as chief technology officer.

DevOps jobs in the UK

The United Kingdom is a leading market for DevOps jobs. This means there are often a wide range of opportunities for professionals at all levels, from junior DevOps engineer through to senior roles and consultancies, while skilled and experienced professionals should be able to find DevOps jobs across many diverse industries.

What is the salary of a DevOps developer?

While exact figures vary, the average salary for a DevOps engineer in the UK stands at between £60,000 and £75,000 a year. Entry-level positions can expect to earn in the region of £50,000, while the most experienced and senior professionals may be able to command salaries upwards of £100,000.

DevOps engineer jobs requiring security clearance

One way to potentially increase your earnings as a DevOps engineer is to look for a job that requires a security clearance. Passing these vetting procedures requires a high level of integrity and professionalism, especially for higher-level clearances such as Developed Vetting, and this is often reflected in the remuneration on offer.

Sectors that deal with highly sensitive data that may require a security clearance include:

  • Central government
  • Armed forces (including contractors)
  • Police services
  • NATO or other international organisations
  • Nuclear facilities
  • Aerospace
  • Telecommunications
  • Cyber security consultancies

Interested to begin a career in DevOps

If you're looking for a DevOps career - and especially one in a role that will need security clearances - where can you start? The best place to find security cleared DevOps jobs is on a specialised service such as SecurityClearedJobs.com

We have a wide variety of security cleared jobs, including opportunities for DevOps careers. Browse our current positions today, or sign up for our next Security Cleared Expo for a chance to meet prospective employers in person and to learn more about working in these key sectors