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11 best free DevOps certifications and training courses in 2023

Application development today focuses on DevOps practices and principles. DevOps skills are in demand -- skills that you can develop with free courses and certifications.

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 emphasizes collaboration between IT engineers and developers. The goal of DevOps is to 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.

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.

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.

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 bad application release, engineers can fix it quickly by pushing an update out through their CI/CD pipeline.

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 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 one of the introductory courses and certifications.

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: This beginner-level DevOps course covers topics such as the skill 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, nine hours.

2. DevOps Culture and Mindset

Course details: This course teaches the underlying principles of DevOps, focusing on culture and the DevOps mindset. You'll learn how DevOps, which is founded in lean principles, can help developers and operations teams better collaborate. 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: Four weeks, 15 hours.

3. Introduction to Jenkins

Course details: The fundamentals needed to implement CI/CD workflows using the Jenkins automation server. 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: 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.

4. Kubernetes: Getting Started

Course details: This 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. 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, admins 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: Approximately four hours.

5. Docker Essentials

Course details: This 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 admins; software engineers; computer engineers; and software developers.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of the Linux OS and Linux Command line.

Duration: Approximately three hours.

6. Getting Started with DevOps on AWS

Course details: This 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.

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: This 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: Two hours per week for five months.

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 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 and infrastructure administrators.

Prerequisites: 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. It 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. DevOps -- The Introduction Course

Course details: This course is targeted at individuals beginning their journey into DevOps and the cloud. This course introduces you to the YAML language with simple lectures and coding exercises so you can practice YAML in your browser. In addition, this course offers a high-level overview of command DevOps, including orchestration tools, such as Puppet, Chef and Ansible; and container technologies, such as Kubernetes, OpenShift and Docker. This course is free to audit. A paid certificate is available.

Who should take this course: Developers, system administrators, cloud administrators, solutions architects and managers (non-technical).

Prerequisites: Basic system administration.

Duration: Approximately two hours.

11. Introduction to DevOps

Course details: This course explores the essentials of DevOps and a brief history of DevOps as well as 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.

Prerequisites: None.

Duration: Five weeks, nine to 10 hours' worth of material.

Next Steps

How to start DevOps: A step-by-step guide

A DevOps developer should be adaptable, creative

Run a DevOps Dojo to improve training and culture

Build a DevOps culture using these key principles

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