7 of the Most Popular DevOps Certifications in 2021
Gone are the days where software development was slowed down by the top-down, water-fall approach for getting work done. The rigidity of this methodology made for a longer development lifecycle, and it affected the way software was created and deployed.
To counter the inefficiency caused by this model, DevOps emerged sometime in the 1990s. As the name suggests, it is a portmanteau of Dev from Software Development and Ops from IT Operations. The primary purpose was to shorten the development life cycle. Through the adoption of DevOps, development teams were able to provide continuous delivery of high-quality software to its end users. This way, companies can keep their clients satisfied, and they can compete effectively. They can also improve their software that the clients only need to update with a click.
This guide will walk you through some of the most popular certifications currently available to take in DevOps. Here are a few quick links for your convenience:
- Why Get Certified?
- How to Choose The Certification That’s Best For Your Goals?
- The Most Sought After DevOps Certifications in 2021
- Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
- Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)
- Docker Certified Associate (DCA)
- Google’s Professional Cloud DevOps Engineers
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
- Hashicorp Certified: Terraform Associate
- DevOps Institute Certifications
- Continual Progress Requires Continual Learning
Why Get Certified?
With its popularity increasing, many people are trying to look at careers in DevOps. As a DevOps expert, you are the frontline of defense for supporting users of the applications your team develops. You make sure that the application and the environment it is working in are in tip-top condition with the help of the myriad of tools in your arsenal. With your coding, you ensure that the software is secure from the backend so that users are satisfied with the application and continue to come back to it.
In other words, your job would be to build, test, and maintain the infrastructure and deploy tools to ensure speedy development and seamless release and deployment of the application. Following are the kind of job titles related to DevOps professionals:
- DevOps Architect
- Security Engineer
- Release Manager
- Automation Engineer
- Software Tester
- Integration Specialist
The most exciting thing about this career is there is no formal, defined path. Typically, you would need a background in IT and software development but today, many IT professionals are self-taught. Additionally, IT professionals can also expand on their career opportunities. With DevOps being an ever-evolving career, regularly growing your knowledge base is recommended. This can be accomplished through online DevOps certifications.
Certification is one of the best ways to increase knowledge and level up your career. A certificate is a testament and confirmation of your expertise or growth in expertise in a particular topic. It provides you with a competitive edge in the job market. Often, this is an external review for a professional who has to prove that they have the necessary knowledge to be accredited.
If you are wondering why you should get certified, here are some reasons why you should consider it:
- Increase Your Knowledge: Often, a test needs to be passed to get certified. To pass the test, you will have to study the relevant materials. These materials could be a refresher for you or updated information about the industry.
- Prove Your Skills: When you pass the test, you receive a certificate. This formal piece of document is proof that you have the right skills and knowledge for the topic.
- Open Doors To Growth: With a certificate complementing your experience as an IT professional, it can open more doors than you can ever imagine. For one, in many cases is the increase of salary. The certification can help you catalyze your career by helping you reinvent its path. The best thing is you can immediately start working in the area you got your certification in. It can also help you find a better job opportunity for yourself, since post-certification, you would have more skills, and you would have used those skills as part of your work experience.
- Specialize: You can specialize in some regions of DevOps through certifications. It motivates you to focus on specific processes and helps you become an expert in them. You can also strategically select lessons and certifications to support that specialization.
- Grow Your Network: If you are taking classes or joining an online study group, or forum, you would be able to build a small community of developers working towards the same goal. You get to meet other people and network with them. You can also be networking with people who have more experience than you. That way, you could increase your knowledge apart from the syllabus of your certificate. Who knows, when you get stuck at some point in your career, you could take advice from people with similar experiences.
- Enhance Productivity: Once you are certified, you would become a more valuable part of the organization you are working in already or for an organization you will be working in. Here’s why- with newly learned or refreshed knowledge and skill, you will be able to apply that knowledge to your work. You will have newer tools and a fresh perspective on dealing with a situation.
Certifications are not just for people who want to start from scratch; they are also for professionals. Learning is an essential aspect of certification. Without new knowledge, a person will become stagnate.
Is Getting a DevOps Certification Worth It?
DevOps is an amalgamation of practices, cultural philosophies, and tools. The philosophy of DevOps comes from a simple mindset, which is to let teams collaborate in real-time. Siloed teams are no longer preferred. This approach has been lauded to be transparent, and with more companies rooting for it, it is no wonder why it is becoming more popular.
There is an obvious cost-benefit analysis to make here. You will also be sacrificing hours of your own time to take part in getting the certification. You may also be taking time out from work to get certified. Additionally, what you learn could become obsolete in a few years.
While it may not be a formal university education, you still have to pay for it. Education does not come cheap. At the same time, certification does not genuinely reflect a developer’s experience.
With all that being said, here are things that certification can help you with as a developer:
- Learning or reinforcing your understanding of the SDLC life cycle
- Hone skills in source code management, continuous integration, containerization, continuous monitoring, and continuous testing
- Provide better management skills to offer productivity to your company
- Career boost
The personal aspects of DevOps certification aside, cloud technologies and microservice architecture-based applications are becoming all the rage. Since the pandemic, the industry has shifted from traditional working methods, and demand for DevOps is increasing. Certifications act as a document that can prove you are willing to put in the time to better yourself in the field and show how committed you are to this career path. This field will only evolve more, and those who will not step up to update their skills may soon be left behind. Getting a certification can support you with professional credibility.
From a company’s perspective, certifications are seen as essentials. When hiring, they look at the experience in the skill sets they require. It also gives them the sense of how serious a person is about the career. They see a professional who is serious and proactive about themselves and the field they are working in. Many certifications come with partner relationships and networking, which benefits any company.
You can see why certifications are something that many people are going after. Who would want to pass on an opportunity to improve themselves?
How to Choose The Certification That’s Best For Your Goals?
Well, we know now that certifications are complementary to your career. On top of that, there are a lot of certificates available in the market. So how do you choose the certification that’s best for your goals?
- First of all, it is essential to know what your goals are. What is it you want to accomplish and what career path would you like to take? Knowing what you want to do with the help of certification is a sure-fire way of knowing that you want certification.
- Second, know what your interests in DevOps are. Look at a certification that will support your appeal. There is no need to take a certificate in something you are not interested in. Choose the areas that you feel you can add more value in.
- Third, do your research. We cannot stress this enough. You do not want to invest in a certification that you will regret down the line. When you do your research, you know what you will be getting into. Look up things like:
- Time of commitment
- Recognition in the industry and regional recognitions
- Expiration Date (This will mean you will have to retake it sometime later, possibly with new knowledge or with the same knowledge base)
- Similar certifications
- Usage of the certification in terms of project and environment
- Certification provider
Once you have your research done, you will be confident enough with your path and will have more control of it going forward.
The Most Sought After DevOps Certifications in 2021
We are here to help you out with one of the aspects of research. What we have for you is a list of the most sought-after DevOps Certifications that are currently available. These made the list because of the following reasons:
- The provider
Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
Microsoft is a recognized name in everything now. You don’t have to be a software engineer to know a certification from Microsoft can mean a lot. Through Microsoft’s certificate, you can upgrade your knowledge and skillset to develop expertise in working with people, the processes, and the technologies to continuously deliver value to the business you are working with.
There is a prerequisite to taking part in the certification: familiarity with Azure administration and development and having either a certification on Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate. Once the certification of either of the two is done, another certification required is the Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions. You can find the career pathway here: DevOps Engineer Expert.
The certification tests knowledge on the following skills:
- Instrumentation strategy development
- Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) strategy development
- Security and Compliance Plan development
- Source Control management
- Communication and Collaboration
- Definition and implementation of continuous integration
- Definition and implementation of continuous delivery and releasing management strategy
There are two ways to prepare for the certification. One way is by studying from the learning paths provided in the link above. The other option is to go for the instructor-led path. This way, you can have someone guide you directly and personally. Once you complete your certification, you receive a certificate and a digital badge to add to your LinkedIn and resume.
Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)
Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) was created to host many critical components required by global technology infrastructures. It consists of many top developers from around the world, along with end-users and vendors. Its primary focus is on supporting open-source projects and organizing major developer conferences. It is also part of the Linux Foundation, which is a non-profit supporting developer.
CNCF also supports developers by providing certifications on Kubernetes Administrator and other programs. The Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program was designed in collaboration with The Linux Foundation. The primary purpose of creating the program was to support the development of the Kubernetes ecosystem. Kubernetes is a trendy open-source project. Being certified in this can help you if you use Kubernetes.
The CNCF’s certification program supports developers to demonstrate competence in a hands-on command-line environment. It ensures that you have the required baseline skills, knowledge, and competency that will complement your responsibility as a Kubernetes administrator. The exam is online and is regulated by a proctor. The performance-based test puts the candidate through multiple issues, seeing how they solve them in a command line. The exam focuses on the following domains:
- Cluster architecture, installation, and configuration
- Workloads and scheduling
- Services and networking
The cost of the exam is US$ 375, which also includes a free retake. You can prepare for the exam using the resources provided here: Resources.
Docker Certified Associate (DCA)
Docker is a platform on which developers create apps. It supports simplification and acceleration of your project’s workflow, promising freedom for innovation. Docker’s certification or a Docker Certified Associate is an exam that will help you hone your skills. This is specifically for those who use Docker to build their applications within the container industry.
The training for a Docker Certified Associate is mostly trainer-led and hands-on so that you can get your share of in-depth understanding of the knowledge for Docker Technologies. However, resources will be available online as well for you to self-study. It will train you on the usage of technologies such as
- Docker Hub
- Docker Compose
- Docker Daemon
- Docker Swarm
- Docker Containers
- Docker Images
- Docker Engine
- Docker Storage
- Docker Network
This certification provides you with the foundational milestone required to validate your real-world Docker skills. The learning outcomes of the program are as follows:
- Planning and implementation of Docker within the organization
- Creating business plans that would support the inclusion of Docker guidelines
- Roles and responsibilities of using Docker
- Industry practices will be at your fingertips
- Designing Implementation strategies
Google’s Professional Cloud DevOps Engineers
Another prominent name in the IT world, Google, is a tech giant that needs no explanation or introduction. It provides many products that developers and non-developers use, so it is no surprise that it also provides certification programs for cloud computing technologies. Google’s Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification is a two-hour exam that tests the abilities of a developer in the following domains:
- Applying principles of site reliability engineering to a service
- Optimization of service performance
- Implementation of service monitoring strategies
- Building and implementing both CI and CD pipelines
- Managing incidents in service
You can find many resources available for training, sample questions, and exam guides on their website. You can also join a webinar on the website to see if this is a certification you would like to get. You can choose different learning paths for this certification, such as:
- Hand on labs
- Resources on Google Cloud
- Online Training
- In-person classes
The exam can be taken either online or by going to a testing center. There are no prerequisites required for this certification; however, it is recommended that you have at least three years of experience in the industry. Along with that, you should have used Google Cloud for managing solutions for at least a year. The test is in English and follows the multiple-choice and multiple select formats.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
Another company in the IT mainstay, Amazon, provides the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional certification. Amazon does not need any introduction, so let’s talk about the certification instead.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional certification is geared towards developers already performing in the DevOps engineering role. It is recommended that they have been in this role for at least two years. Through the certification, developers have the following abilities validated:
- The implementation and management of continuous delivery systems and methodologies on AWS
- The implementation and automation of security controls, processes of governance, and validation of compliance
- Definition and deployment of monitoring, logging systems, and metrics on AWS
- Implementation of systems that are supposed to be highly available can be scalable, and are self-healing on the AWS platform.
- The designing, management, and maintenance of tools to automate processes of operations
AWS recommends hands-on experience as the way to prepare for the course and exam. There are training courses available on their website to assist you with gaining knowledge and skills for the certification. The test is three hours long and currently available in English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese. You can take it either in a testing center or as a proctored online exam.
AWS also has other certifications available for you to find what you like.
Hashicorp Certified: Terraform Associate
Hashicorp is a software company that uses the Freemium business model in California. It provides open-source tools and commercial products to support developers, operators, and security practitioners to provide, secure, run and connect cloud-computing infrastructure.
Hashicorp also provides certification for Terraform Associate. It is a popular certification, and Terraforms has proven effective as a DevOps tool for writing declarative Infrastructure as Code (IaC). The certification covers the following topics:
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC) concepts
- Terraform’s purpose
- Terraform basics
- Terraform CLI
- Terraform Module interactions
- Terraform workflow navigation
- Implementation and maintenance
- Read, generate and modify the configuration
- Understanding Terraform Cloud and Enterprise Capabilities
The only prerequisites required are basic terminal skills and an understanding of how on-premises and cloud architecture work. Currently, the product version that is being tested for is Terraform 0.14 or higher. The exam is an MCQ-based assessment for one hour, and it expires in two years. There are study guides, review guides, and sample questions provided by HashiCorp to support your self-study. You can find more information about the certification here: Terraform Associate.
DevOps Institute Certifications
DevOps Institute is a community for DevOps professionals. It provides certifications to members. With over 80 thousand DevOps practitioners and thought leaders in the community, and a global reach, it is a powerful candidate for your certification needs. They currently have over 150 international education partners and have awarded over 25000 certifications to this day. DevOps Institute focuses on eight key areas for DevOps certifications.
- DevOps Foundation
- DevOps Leader
- DevSecOps Foundation
- Continuous Testing Foundation
- Agile Process Owner
- Agile Service Manager
- Continuous Delivery Ecosystem Foundation
- Site Reliability Engineering Foundation
The organization is committed to supporting DevOps practitioners to advance in their careers by helping them develop new skills, pursue relevant knowledge, encourage innovation and continuous learning. In doing so, they have forged nine career paths for a DevOps professional to choose from:
- DevOps Leader
- DevOps Tester
- Agile Coach
- DevOps Engineer
- Security Engineer
- SRE Leader
- SRE Engineer
- DevOps Consultant
You can find more details about these certification paths here. You can quickly start your journey through DevOps Institute by choosing the training course you are interested in to prepare for the exam. You can do this by seeking out their Education Partners. You can also go for the self-study route to prepare on your own for the exam. If you choose to self-study, DevOps Institute will provide you with all the necessary resources, study guides, etc., to practice and prepare for the exam. Once you pass the exam, you are eligible to receive an e-certificate and a digital badge to commemorate your achievement.
Continual Progress Requires Continual Learning
DevOps is a continuously evolving field in IT. Similarly, learning is also a continuous process. Both go hand in hand. In a constantly changing market and innovations are taking over, it makes sense that you also think about leveling up your skills and knowledge.
If you are still unsure about leveling up, think about how much a DevOps expert earns in a year. (Hint: A DevOps expert earns on average upwards of $125,000 a year.) Being a DevOps practitioner already fosters the idea of continuous change, and so it makes sense that you’d want to upgrade your journey. Best of luck!