DevOps skills are in high demand, and DevOps engineers command excellent salaries. But before you can land a DevOps job, you need the necessary expertise and skills.
DevOps certifications and training programs can get you on the road to a rewarding DevOps career. These offerings can help you learn and demonstrate DevOps expertise regardless of your background.
There are plenty of opportunities for DevOps certifications and training courses that are easy to access. Here are some of the free programs.
What is DevOps?
At its core, DevOps is a methodology that changes the traditional development process to emphasize greater collaboration between IT engineers and developers. The goal of DevOps is to accelerate the pace of development and eliminate the functional silos that traditionally separated IT teams from development teams and made it difficult for them to communicate or reinforce each other's efforts.
DevOps is a philosophy rather than a rigid set of tools and practices. However, a variety of technologies and methodologies enable or enhance DevOps processes. They include techniques such as continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), which means implementing and pushing out application updates quickly and continuously.
They also extend to the use of tools, such as Git, to perform source control, making heavy use of cloud computing to build software environments that are more flexible and scalable. Automated configuration management tools are also used to speed software deployment and environment provisioning.
DevOps also changes the method by which applications are developed. In times past, much of the development work was done before bug chasing began, which is known as the Waterfall method. This method has proven to be cumbersome and inefficient because bugs can be much harder to track down in an application with 100,000 lines of code.
DevOps therefore uses a method of development known as Agile which introduces testing right from the start of development. Rather than build an application all at once, a small, basic portion of the application that can run or be executed is developed and rigorously tested. Once it is tested, new features, functions or portions of the application are added. It is then tested. The process repeats over and over -- code, then test. This helps find bugs early in the development process when the codebase is relatively small, or bugs can be found when they are newly added and developers know where to look.
When an organization adopts a DevOps approach, IT engineers and developers work closely together to determine what software is developed, how it's deployed, and how problems arising after deployment get resolved and inform the next development cycle.
Why is DevOps important?
By streamlining software delivery processes and removing the friction between development and IT teams, DevOps unlocks benefits for businesses and their customers. Examples include the following:
- Application updates are faster and less expensive to implement within a CI/CD pipeline. This lets organizations react more quickly to changes in the market and deliver cutting-edge features to users on a regular basis.
- Automation tools that DevOps teams frequently use help to reduce costs while increasing the reusability and repeatability of configurations and environments, which helps businesses scale.
- DevOps practices enhance security by standardizing software delivery practices, which reduces the risk of oversights that lead to security vulnerabilities.
Engineers also benefit from DevOps. Because the DevOps concept strongly encourages automation, working as a DevOps engineer means spending less time on tedious work -- such as manually configuring a server or deploying an application release -- and more time performing tasks that are more creative and original, such as planning updates to an application architecture or evaluating a new cloud service.
DevOps can also make the lives of engineers easier by making it faster and simpler to fix problems. If there is a problematic release, engineers can fix it quickly by pushing an update out through their CI/CD pipeline.
Through automation and Agile development processes, the software development lifecycle is shortened, hastening its delivery to market and reducing costs at the same time. By automating testing and monitoring, DevOps can help identify and fix bugs early in the development process. And by breaking down silos between development and operations teams, organizations can respond more quickly to changes in the market or customer needs. By gaining DevOps skills, engineers can increase their value to businesses while, at the same time, positioning themselves for jobs that are more enjoyable.
DevOps certifications worth having
When you set out to take a DevOps course or gain a DevOps certification, you'll notice that they fall into these three main categories:
- Introductory courses and certifications. These focus on DevOps basics.
- Advanced courses and certifications. These cater to more sophisticated types of DevOps skills and tools but do not focus on a single platform or company.
- Courses and certifications tied to practicing DevOps in a specific context. Examples of these types of courses include using a particular public cloud or a specific container orchestration platform.
Your goals will help you decide which type of certification or course to pursue.
If you are totally new to DevOps and don't know where to start, you'll get the greatest benefit with an introductory course or certification. These will help you demonstrate to management that you can work in a DevOps environment even if you have not yet acquired expertise with specific DevOps-related tools the organization uses.
If you are already familiar with DevOps but want to sharpen your skills, an advanced general-purpose DevOps training course or certification is a good alternative. This approach is useful if you already work in DevOps but want to position yourself for a promotion to a role such as lead DevOps engineer.
Finally, if your company uses a specific DevOps tool set, consider a DevOps course or certification that is tailored to the platforms or tools within it. A variety of DevOps courses and certifications are available for the major public cloud platforms as well as for popular DevOps-oriented tools, such as Jenkins and Kubernetes.
How to prepare for a DevOps certification
There's no rigid set of prerequisites for gaining a DevOps certification. Although many candidates have academic credentials in application development or IT and may also have practical experience in these fields, most certification programs allow anyone to participate regardless of their background.
The resources you need to prepare for a DevOps certification are also readily available. If it's a certification offered by a cloud provider or tool vendor, read through the company's white papers and technical resources to understand how the company approaches DevOps and which best practices it recommends. For general-purpose certifications, follow the latest news and conversations about DevOps to keep yourself up to date with current trends, tools and methodologies.
11 best free DevOps certifications and training courses
When you're ready to start your certification or training, consider one of the following offerings:
1. Continuous Delivery & DevOps
Course details: Continuous Delivery & DevOps is a beginner-level course covering topics such as the skills and roles involved in DevOps and how they contribute to a continuous delivery capability. The course is free, but for a fee, you can purchase a certificate that lets you access all course materials, including graded assignments.
Who should take this course: Beginners looking for a primer on DevOps.
Prerequisites: Some familiarity with software development is helpful but not required.
Duration: Four weeks, eight hours with a flexible schedule.
2. DevOps Culture and Mindset
Course details: DevOps Culture and Mindset teaches the underlying principles of DevOps, focusing on culture and mindset. You'll learn how DevOps, which is founded on Lean principles, can help developers and operations teams collaborate better. The course is free, but for a fee, you can purchase a certificate that lets you access all course materials, including graded assignments.
Who should take this course: Engineers who know how to use technical tools but want a primer on the DevOps philosophy.
Prerequisites: None, but the course assumes some familiarity with technical tools and processes.
Duration: Three weeks, 14 hours.
3. Introduction to Jenkins
Course details: The fundamentals needed to implement CI/CD workflows using the Jenkins automation server. The LinuxFoundationX: Introduction to Jenkins course is free, but for a fee, you can purchase a certificate that lets you access all course materials, including graded assignments.
Who should take this course: Beginning to intermediate practitioners who understand basic DevOps concepts but want to get started building a CI/CD pipeline.
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of the software development lifecycle and software configuration management tools, such as Git.
Duration: 12 weeks, two to three hours per week. Price is $189.
4. Kubernetes: Getting Started
Course details: The Kubernetes: Getting Started course introduces Kubernetes at a high level, including what it does and how to administer it. You'll learn why a good container orchestration engine is necessary and why Kubernetes is the one to use. From there you will learn what Pods are and how to use them. Although this free course doesn't focus on DevOps specifically, it can be useful for DevOps engineers who need a fast way to learn about Kubernetes.
Who should take this course: DevOps engineers, developers, administrators or anyone interested in learning about Kubernetes.
Prerequisites: Basic understanding of YAML syntax, Linux commands, Docker, containers; Google Cloud is a plus but not mandatory.
Duration: Five sections with 13 lectures running just under four hours.
5. Docker Essentials
Course details: The Docker Essentials course offers an in-depth understanding of containers and Docker. You'll create and run multi-container applications using Docker Compose and learn how to manage Docker Swarm Clusters.
Who should take this course: IT students, professionals and teachers; DevOps engineers and enthusiasts; system administrators; software engineers; computer engineers; and software developers.
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of the Linux OS and Linux Command line.
Duration: Eight sections with 52 lectures running four hours.
6. Getting Started with DevOps on AWS
Course details: The Getting Started with DevOps on AWS course explains basic DevOps concepts and how to apply them in the AWS cloud. The training is free, but it can be a first step toward preparing for a paid certification, such as AWS Certified DevOps Engineer.
Who should take this course: Developers, IT operations engineers, IT professionals, IT leaders, cloud practitioners, solutions architects and DevOps engineers interested in learning the basic concepts of DevOps on AWS.
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of the software development cycle, general IT and cloud computing.
Duration: One hour.
7. Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud DevOps Engineer Professional Certificate
Course details: The Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud DevOps Engineer Professional Certificate course teaches you the skills to move forward in your career as a data engineer. It's one of the courses that prepares you for the industry-recognized Google Cloud Professional DevOps Engineer certification. Free to audit; certification requires a fee.
Who should take this course: Data engineers, experienced practitioners who want to learn more about DevOps tools and services on Google Cloud Platform.
Prerequisites: Familiarity with cloud computing and DevOps practices; more than three years of industry experience, including more than one year managing solutions on Google Cloud Platform.
Duration: Five courses in one month at 10 hours per week.
8. Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
Course details: This extensive training program covers a variety of DevOps topics, including source control, continuous integration, security and testing. The Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert course focuses on Microsoft- and Azure-related technologies, but it also touches on core DevOps concepts that apply to any type of environment. Online training is free, but the Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert certification exam has a fee.
Who should take this course: Developers, site reliability engineers and Azure administrators.
Prerequisites: Certification in one of two courses: Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate or Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate. An individual must have basic familiarity with both Microsoft Azure development and administration and have strong skills in one of these areas. Candidates should also be familiar with Azure DevOps and GitHub.
Duration: Approximately 60 hours.
9. Developing Cloud-Native Applications with Microservices Architectures
Course details: Delivered as a set of videos, this Red Hat course teaches you how to combine different tools and frameworks into a microservices architecture that fits the needs of your organization. The Developing Cloud-Native Applications with Microservices Architectures course touches on a variety of DevOps tools, including Docker, Spring Boot, NodeJS, .NET, OpenShift, Jenkins, Kubernetes and more.
Who should take this course: Java developers and individuals interested in OpenShift and Kubernetes.
Prerequisites: Understanding of software and IT systems architecture.
Duration: 30 days.
10. Introduction to DevOps
Course details: IBM's Introduction to DevOps course explores the essentials of DevOps, a brief history of DevOps and how to build a business case for DevOps. You'll learn that to adopt DevOps, organizations need to break down silos and combine development and operations teams into one team that works together.
Who should take this course: Individuals new to DevOps and those who want to enhance their knowledge of DevOps.
Duration: Five weeks, nine to 10 hours' worth of material.
11. DevOps Foundation Certification Training
Course details: DevOps Foundation Certification Training by KnowledgeHut is a two-day course that teaches developers how to incorporate regular DevOps methods into their company, helping to reduce time to lead, deploy faster and create better quality software.
Who should take this course: Individuals and managers looking to introduce the DevOps concept to their company.
Duration: 16 hours of live Instructor-led training, including case studies and activities and comprehensive exam support.