Top DevOps Certifications to Accelerate Your Career

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Apr 29, 2024

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As we step into 2024, the importance of DevOps is more pronounced than ever. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of DevOps practices in enhancing operational efficiencies and speeding up the software deployment lifecycle. This is why choosing the right DevOps certification is critical not only for aspiring DevOps professionals but also for those like me, looking to stay relevant in an ever-evolving field.

DevOps certifications can be a gateway to advancing your career, with certified professionals often enjoying a significant advantage in terms of job opportunities and salary prospects. Recent studies indicate that individuals with top-tier DevOps certifications can see salary increases of up to 20%, which underscores the value these credentials hold in the job market. In 2024, with the surge in cloud computing, containerization, and automation technologies, certain DevOps certifications have emerged as particularly beneficial. This blog will guide you through the best DevOps certifications available this year, helping you make an informed decision that aligns with your career aspirations and industry demands.

How to Choose a DevOps Certification

When deciding to advance my career through certification, I found it essential to carefully consider which DevOps certification would best suit my professional goals and meet the demands of the current job market. Here's how I approached the selection process, and I recommend you do the same:

1. Identify Career Goals and Market Demand

  • First, clarify your career objectives. Are you aiming to become a DevOps engineer, a manager, or enhance specific skills like continuous integration and continuous deployment? Understanding your career direction will help you choose a certification that aligns with your aspirations.
  • Next, research the market demand. Look into job listings that interest you and note what certifications employers prefer. In my experience, certain certifications frequently appear in job requirements, indicating their value to employers.

2. Assess the Certification’s Focus and Content

  • Each DevOps certification has a unique focus. Some are geared toward specific tools like Jenkins or Docker, while others cover broader practices like agile and lean methodologies. For instance, if you are working in an environment that uses Kubernetes extensively, the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) might be particularly beneficial.
  • It’s also wise to review the certification curriculum to ensure it covers the latest practices and technologies relevant to today’s DevOps workflows. This relevance is crucial as the field of DevOps is rapidly evolving with advancements in cloud technologies and automation.

3. Consider the Certification Body’s Reputation

The credibility of the certifying body is another critical factor. Well-recognized organizations like the DevOps Institute, the Linux Foundation, and the Project Management Institute are known for their rigorous standards and are highly respected in the industry. A certification from a reputable body can significantly enhance your resume.

4. Evaluate Prerequisites and Costs

  • Some certifications have prerequisites, such as prior experience in a DevOps role or earlier certifications. Ensure you meet these requirements before investing time and money.
  • Speaking of investment, consider the costs, which include exam fees and preparation materials. Some certifications also require renewal or continuing education. Make sure the potential career benefits outweigh these costs.

Benefits of Getting DevOps Certified

Earning a DevOps certification can be a career-changing move. Here’s why I found it valuable, and why you might too:

1. Increased Job Opportunities: Certifications open doors. Many companies look for certified professionals in their hiring criteria because it assures them of the candidate’s skills and commitment to the field. Holding a top DevOps certification can set you apart from other candidates and increase your job opportunities.

2. Higher Salary Potential: There’s a clear correlation between certifications and salary in the IT industry. Certified professionals often earn more than their non-certified peers. For instance, obtaining the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification has been shown to increase salaries by up to 20%. This is because certified individuals are considered to have advanced skills and a professional edge, which is highly valued.

3. Professional Credibility and Recognition: Being certified can significantly boost your professional credibility. It demonstrates your dedication to your professional development and commitment to the field of DevOps. This recognition is not just from potential employers but also from peers, which can be gratifying and motivating.

4. Expanded Knowledge and Skills: Preparing for a DevOps certification forces you to learn and understand the methodologies, tools, and practices deeply. This learning goes beyond passing the exam it enhances your ability to contribute to your organization more effectively, leading to better job performance and career advancement.

5. Networking Opportunities: Certification courses and related events offer excellent networking opportunities. You can meet other professionals with similar interests and ambitions. This network can be invaluable for career advice, job opportunities, and professional references.

Top DevOps Certifications

As someone deeply invested in the field of DevOps, I've encountered various certifications that can significantly enhance a professional's career. Below, I'll explore some of the best DevOps certifications that are highly regarded in the industry.

1. Docker Certified Associate

The Docker Certified Associate (DCA) certification validates that an individual has the skills, knowledge, and abilities as a Docker practitioner. Given Docker’s pivotal role in containerization, which is fundamental to modern DevOps practices, this certification is particularly useful for professionals looking to demonstrate their competency in building, shipping, and running Docker containers.

2. CKA: Certified Kubernetes Administrator

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program tests the ability to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot Kubernetes clusters in production. This top DevOps certification is essential for professionals who need to validate their expertise in Kubernetes, which is currently one of the most important tools in the DevOps ecosystem for orchestrating containers.

3. CKAD: Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) certification focuses on the skills required to design and build applications for Kubernetes. While the CKA focuses on the administration of Kubernetes clusters, the CKAD ensures a user can define application resources and use core primitives to build, monitor, and troubleshoot scalable applications and tools in Kubernetes.

4. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification validates technical expertise in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. This certification is aimed at individuals who perform a DevOps engineer role and have experience with both the development and operations side of AWS.

5. Azure DevOps Solution Certification Exam

The Azure DevOps Solution Certification Exam focuses on individuals who combine people, process, and technologies to continuously deliver valuable products and services that meet end-user needs and business objectives. Azure DevOps professionals streamline product delivery by optimizing practices, improving communications and collaboration, and creating automation.

6. Puppet Professional Certification

The Puppet Professional Certification demonstrates your expertise in managing systems with Puppet, from writing and implementing code to using Puppet tools. This certification is valued highly among professionals who manage infrastructure as code and are looking to demonstrate their ability in configuration management frameworks.

7. Architecting with Google Cloud Platform

The Architecting with Google Cloud Platform certification (part of the Google Cloud Certified program) validates one's ability to design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives. It’s ideal for professionals using Google Cloud technologies in their solutions architecture.

Also Read: GCP Analytics

8. Microsoft Certified Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

The Microsoft Certified Azure DevOps Engineer Expert shows that the holder has the skills necessary to combine processes, people, and technologies to continuously deliver valuable products and services that meet user needs and business objectives using Azure Technologies. It is one of the best certifications for DevOps professionals working with Azure.

9. Google Certified Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer

The Google Certified Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification ensures that the individual can efficiently develop reliable and scalable applications on Google Cloud Platform. It covers a wide range of fundamental to advanced concepts necessary to manage and modify development processes.

10. Hashicorp Certified Terraform Associate DevOps Certification

Terraform is an essential tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. The Hashicorp Certified Terraform Associate certification validates the skills needed to use Terraform in production, demonstrating deep understanding of infrastructure as code.

11. DevOps Foundation (DOFD)

The DevOps Foundation certification provides a baseline understanding of key DevOps terminology to ensure everyone is talking the same language and highlights the benefits of DevOps to support organizational success, making it an excellent entry-level certification.

12. Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Associate (KCNA)

The Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Associate (KCNA) certification demonstrates a user’s foundational knowledge of cloud-native principles and practices, including Kubernetes. For those starting their journey into cloud-native technologies, this is a great entry point.

Choosing the right certification depends on one’s current skills, professional goals, and the technologies used in their work environment. Earning one of these top DevOps certifications not only boosts your professional credibility but also enhances your career prospects by validating your expertise in highly sought-after skills. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to specialize further, there’s a certification that can help advance your career in DevOps.

How to Prepare for a DevOps Certification

Preparing for a DevOps certification is a significant undertaking that requires a strategic and committed approach. As I navigated through my certification process, I discovered several effective strategies that helped ensure my success. Here's how I prepared, and how you might consider preparing, to ensure you're fully equipped for the exam.

1. Understand the Certification Requirements: Firstly, understanding the specific requirements of the certification is crucial. Each DevOps certification has its own set of prerequisites, exam formats, and topics covered. Start by visiting the official website of the certifying body to get all the necessary details. Download any official study guides or exam blueprints they provide, as these documents will give you a comprehensive overview of what you need to know.

2. Enroll in a DevOps Course: One of the most effective ways I found to prepare was to enroll in a structured DevOps course. These courses are designed to cover all the areas you’ll be tested on and often provide additional resources such as practice exams, interactive labs, and access to a community of other learners. Instructors in these courses can also provide valuable insights into the exam itself, including tips on how to tackle specific types of questions.

3. Hands-On Practice: DevOps is very much a practical field, so hands-on practice is essential. Set up your own labs at home or use cloud-based environments provided by the course or training programs. Try to implement the concepts you learn as you go, such as setting up CI/CD pipelines, using configuration management tools, or deploying containerized applications. This practical experience is invaluable and will help solidify your understanding of the material.

4. Join Study Groups and Forums: Joining study groups and online forums can be incredibly beneficial. These communities often provide moral support, study tips, and resources shared by those who have already passed the exam. Discussing topics with peers can also deepen your understanding and expose you to different perspectives on applying DevOps practices.

5. Take Practice Exams: Practice exams are a must. They not only help you get used to the format of the questions but also time your responses. Most importantly, they help identify your weak areas. After each practice exam, review your answers, especially the incorrect ones. Understand why you got them wrong and revisit those topics for further study.

6. Schedule Regular Study Times: Consistency is key when preparing for an exam. I scheduled regular times each day dedicated solely to studying for my certification. This helped create a routine and allowed me to progressively build my knowledge without cramming.

7. Stay Updated: Since DevOps is a rapidly evolving field, it is important to stay updated with the latest practices, tools, and technologies. Follow relevant blogs, watch webinars, and engage with the latest research papers or articles related to DevOps. Staying current will not only help you in your certification but in your overall career as well.

Conclusion

Preparing for a DevOps certification can be daunting, but with the right approach, it is entirely achievable. Investing time in a comprehensive DevOps course, gaining practical experience, and engaging with the community are all critical steps in your preparation. Practice diligently, use resources wisely, and maintain a consistent study schedule. Remember, obtaining a DevOps certification is not just about passing an exam it's about setting a solid foundation for your career in an exciting and dynamic field. By following these steps, you can maximize your chances of success and truly benefit from the opportunities that DevOps training and certification can provide.

FAQs

 

1. How Long is DevOps Certification Valid?

The validity of a DevOps certification can vary significantly depending on the issuing body. For instance, certifications like the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer require you to recertify every three years to keep your certification active. This involves either passing a recertification exam or accumulating a certain number of continuing education units. Other certifications may have different timelines or requirements for maintaining validity. It's important to check the specific details from the certifying authority to understand the renewal requirements.

2. How Hard is DevOps Certification?

The difficulty level of obtaining a DevOps certification largely depends on your prior experience and understanding of both the principles of DevOps and the specific tools and technologies covered by the certification. For someone with a background in software development or IT operations who is already familiar with the basics of DevOps practices, the certification might be challenging but manageable. However, for beginners, it can be quite tough. It requires a significant amount of study and hands-on practice to become proficient in the tools and practices commonly tested in these certifications. Comprehensive preparation and practical experience are key to successfully passing DevOps certification exams.

3. How Much Time is Required to Learn DevOps?

The time required to learn DevOps can vary widely based on your background and the specific areas of DevOps you wish to master. Generally, if you are starting with a basic understanding of software development and IT operations, you might need several months of dedicated learning to get to grips with the core DevOps practices such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, infrastructure as code, and configuration management. For someone completely new to IT, it could take over a year of consistent study and practice to develop a solid foundation in DevOps concepts and tools.

Regular engagement with DevOps tools and practices, through hands-on projects or professional work, helps deepen understanding and skill level more quickly. The learning curve can be steep, but resources like online DevOps courses and training programs can provide structured learning paths to accelerate this process.

4. Is DevOps Certification Enough to Get a Job?

While a DevOps certification can significantly enhance your resume by demonstrating your knowledge and commitment to DevOps practices, it's not usually sufficient on its own to secure a job. Employers typically look for candidates who not only have certifications but also practical experience with DevOps tools and DevOps methodologies. Being certified can certainly get your foot in the door, especially for interviews, as it sets you apart from candidates who are not certified.

However, to truly be job-ready, you should complement your certification with real-world experience. This could be through internships, contributing to open-source projects, or working on personal or freelance projects that allow you to apply DevOps practices. Employers value this hands-on experience highly, often on par with or even more than certifications alone.

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