DevOps teams combine development and operations to boost productivity at work. For this to happen, the professionals must possess the right skills, knowledge of the right tools and the DevOps mindset. This makes it an interesting department to work in as, over time, you’ll be able to build a portfolio of soft and hard skills that will be useful in different spaces.
But despite the abundance of SRE and DevOps roles, and the increasing number of tech companies embracing DevOps, it can still be hard to find the right talent. Which is why you might want to earn a DevOps certification — to prove all the stuff you know and can do. DevOps certifications come with benefits like:
- Flexible career options. Diverse skills that come with each certification.
- Improved pay. The average DevOps engineer salary is $122k annually, which means it can easily be even higher.
- Better access to opportunities, like the people and events you’ll get to know.
With the abundance of skills-learning platforms offering DevOps courses, taking courses is easy—but you might be missing the real value of certifying. In other words, you can self-serve your way to knowledge, but you’ll get no callback from recruiters for your resume or LinkedIn profile. And that’s because not every organization and their degrees give the credibility recruiters look out for.
To help in your search, we’ve selected the most in-demand DevOps certifications from recognized bodies you should have as a DevOps enthusiast or professional.
(Check out these DevOps events & DevOps books to read.)
Best DevOps certifications that companies seek
Learning never ends with DevOps. Plus, one certification will not give you all you need, but the following ones will give you a leg up the career ladder as a DevOps professional:
AWS Cloud & DevOps Certification - Professional
This platform-specific certification validates the candidate’s knowledge of the AWS infrastructure. So with this certification, professionals should have the expertise to manage and distribute different application systems on the AWS platform.
Requirements: This is not an entry-level certification, as you’ll need at least two years of experience working in an AWS environment and familiarity with a high-level programming language and experience implementing government processes and compliance validation. (AWS offers different certifications for other levels, including beginner and associate level.) You can see more about this in their exam guide.
You can take this exam without formal training as it has questions that simulate real-life work challenges. Still, using any free or paid course materials AWS provides will further your chance of passing.
- Cost: DOP CO2, which awards you the certification, is priced at $300.
- Time to completion: You’ll get 180 minutes to take the exam, which has a mixture of 75 multi-choice and multi-response questions.
AZ-400: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions Certification Exam
Microsoft Azure offers some of the most sought-after certifications for tech professionals. And this is because Microsoft is one of the biggest cloud computing companies, respected for its value to the service and learning industry. One of its highly rated courses is the Microsoft Azure DevOps solution certification exam.
What makes this great for upskilling as a DevOps professional is that the exam is periodically updated, so the knowledge and credibility you’re acquiring align with current trends. The exam evaluates your ability to:
- Configure processes and communications
- Design and implement source control
- Design and implement build and release pipelines
- Develop a security and compliance plan
- Implement an instrumentation strategy
There’s a study guide, free demo, and self-paced learning courses to help your chance at acing the certification exam.
Requirements: You should know the DevOps concept and the Azure framework to take this certification. You must also pass either Microsoft’s Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate or Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate. Then you move on to the DevOps solutions exam and become a Microsoft-certified DevOps expert.
- Cost: The certification exam is priced at $165.
- Exam details: The exam takes 150-210 minutes to answer 40-60 questions and a passing score of 700 out of 1000.
Puppet Professional Certification
Puppet is a tool for managing and automating server configurations. For DevOps teams, it’s an inexpensive solution for handling configuration issues, and it’s compatible with other tools needed in a DevOps setup.
With the current state of DevOps and the new focus on platform engineering, the 206 Puppet Professional Certification exam offered by Puppet labs sets you apart as a DevOps professional. For the exam, the Puppet team offers a study lounge with free and paid resources. Candidates will be tested on their ability to:
- Complete Puppet tasks
- Interact in Puppet environments
- Describe ways to troubleshoot Puppet code
- Communicate ways of using facts and data
- Highlight best practices for module testing
There’s no expiration date for this certification. Still, since the exam is updated every two years, the certification can become outdated, so you’ll need to take note of that when using the certification to apply for opportunities.
- Requirements: Basic knowledge of system administration and familiarity with relevant puppet documentation is needed for the certification.
- Cost: The certification exam costs $200.
- Exam details: Candidates will be given 90 minutes to answer 60 multi-choice questions.
Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Associate (KCNA)
This entry-level certification is for those interested in learning more about cloud-native technologies, particularly Kubernetes. It will test your understanding of the Kubernetes architecture, cloud-native landscape and the basis of cloud-native security.
It will also position you to try out more courses on cloud technology like CKAD (up next). Subject areas for the exam include:
- Kubernetes fundamentals
- Container orchestration
- Container native architecture
- Cloud native observability
- Cloud native application delivery
The certification is valid for three years, after which you can retake the exam for a renewed certificate.
- Requirements: While this is a foundational certification for beginners, cloud, networking and Linux knowledge is needed to pass the exam.
- Cost: You’ll have to pay $250 to take the certification exam.
- Exam details: 90 minutes is granted for candidates to answer 60 multichoice questions. Then, a 75% and above score is needed to get the certification.
Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)
This is an advanced certification, the next step after the KCNA discussed above. However, while KCNA validates the candidates’ basic understanding, this shows the candidate is more hands-on and can build, test, and deploy cloud-native applications using Kubernetes. The exam tests candidates on the following:
- Application design and build
- Application deployment
- Application observability and maintenance
- Application environment, configuration and security (AppSec)
- Services and networking
The certification is valid for three years and is best for Kubernetes engineers, cloud engineers and IT professionals who work with cloud-native applications in Kubernetes.
- Requirements: Hands-on experience with Docker and Linux is needed to pass the exam.
- Cost: The exam is priced at $395.
- Exam details: Candidates will be given two hours to solve 15-20 performance-based tasks and score 66% and above.
HashiCorp Certified Terraform Associate
Terraform is one of the open-source tools created by Hashicorp. As an infrastructure-as-code tool, Terraform functions similarly to Puppet — it automates different infrastructure functions and works with different cloud providers. Software engineers in large companies use it for standardizing infrastructure automation and boosting productivity. Candidates will be tested on their ability to:
- Understand Infrastructure-as-code concepts
- Understand Terraform's purpose and basics
- Use the Terraform CLI (outside of core workflow)
- Interact with Terraform modules
- Navigate Terraform workflow
- Implement and maintain state
- Read, generate and modify configuration
- Understand Terraform Cloud and Enterprise capabilities
The certification expires every two years as the exam is updated periodically. The company provides a study and review guide to help candidates prepare for the exam.
Requirements: Candidates are advised to have hands-on experience working with Terraform in production. Also, understanding terminal skills, premises and cloud architecture will help. Otherwise, there are no strict rules on work experience as this is an entry-level certification.
- Cost. $70.50 excluding taxes and other accruing expenses
- Exam details. It’s a one-hour exam.
Google Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
Google offers lots of training and certification opportunities to expand the adoption of its tools. So, this is an advanced certification to help cloud engineers build DevOps solutions and a DevOps mindset while using Google’s cloud solutions.
This certification can be useful for thousands of companies that use any of Google’s cloud solutions. Cloud engineers, solutions architects and experienced cloud administrators are best suited for this certification. It tests your ability to:
- Apply site reliability engineering principles to a service
- Build and implement CI/CD pipelines for a service
- Implement service monitoring strategies
- Optimize service performance
- Manage service incidents
This certification is valid for two years.
- Requirements: Google recommends that candidates have 3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years managing solutions on Google Cloud.
- Cost: To take the course for the first time, candidates must pay $200. Renewing costs half the certification exam fee, $100.
- Exam details: Candidates will be given two hours to complete 50-60 questions.
Docker Certified Associate (DCA)
Docker is an open-source platform for quickly building, running and deploying applications. Since most companies containerize apps to help with faster production and deployment, Docker is among the most sought-after skillsets you can possess. This certification institute confirms your ability to handle:
- Storage and volumes
- Security and networking
- Installation and configuration
- Image creation, registry and management
- Container orchestration
- Docker Swarm and/or Kubernetes
This certification doesn’t just end with the exam. Successful DCA candidates also get access to an exclusive LinkedIn group with a network of Docker professionals, plus invites to certified events.
The certification is great for solution architects, cloud professionals, software testers, developers, and system administrators. The certification is valid for two years.
- Requirements: Basic knowledge of Docker (preferably 6-12 months of experience working with it) and an understanding of Linux and control groups are needed to pass this exam.
- Cost: The DCA exam costs $195.
- Exam detail: Candidates will be given 90 minutes to answer 55 questions and get a passing score based on the institute’s discretion. So, no public information is available on the pass mark.
What to consider when selecting a DevOps certification
Certain factors should influence your decision-making process when selecting a DevOps certification.
Opting for a platform-specific or role-specific certification, depending on the industry and the requirement of your choice employer. Of course, that’s not the only path to certification. Here are three other factors to consider:
This should be analyzed based on in-demand roles and tools. Unless you’re willing to play the long game, getting on the moving train and handling as many tasks while building your portfolio is a great way to advance your career.
For instance, Docker and Kubernetes are some of the best tools DevOps teams use, so getting a certification in those areas will boost your job prospects.
Level of experience
Unlike cybersecurity certifications requiring strict formal experience, DevOps teams focus more on your familiarity with tools and ability to take on multiple roles, which can be achieved within a year or less of technical work experience. You also won’t have to settle for beginner certifications if extra training combined with your existing knowledge will help you acquire an advanced certification exam.
Background and personal interest
This works more if you’re a beginner to DevOps. Evaluate your previous experience and look out for DevOps areas that intersect with jobs you’ve handled before. For instance, you can pivot from project management to DevOps and start by settling into a more generalist role.
But if you’re a beginner, you should opt for a broad certification that touches on different aspects of DevOps. This way, you can learn what exactly works for you, your strength in the DevOps lifecycle, and whether other aspects of DevOps, like DevSecOps and cloud-native management, are your calling.
Explore learning and networking opportunities to grow your DevOps career
The DevOps institute offers equally helpful courses that can help your career goal. But if finances are a constraint, you can use the several free courses offered by learning institutes like Coursera, Udemy and Simplilearn to develop yourself in DevOps.
With the right mindset and constant collaboration with colleagues across different departments, you’ll pick up more skills that will make you indispensable as a DevOps professional.
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