When most people consider a software career, they think about coding applications or websites. And indeed, there are a lot of job opportunities in these areas. But there is a whole other side to software development that is less discussed: DevOps and Systems Engineering.
Once an application is built, it needs to be served to users. This is especially important for popular applications like Google, Buzzfeed, and LinkedIn which need to be prepared for millions of visitors. This is where System Engineers come in. These specialized software engineers build sophisticated infrastructures so that your Facebook or Instagram is always fast and accessible.
The job is evolving and there are a lot of titles for this skillset: System Administrator, System Engineer, DevOps, Site Reliability Engineer (SRE), IT Engineer, etc. In the end, the goal of each position is similar: to ensure that the website or application is accessible in a fast, reliable and secure fashion. Small companies might have tens of servers while the biggest companies can have hundreds or thousands of servers. When system infrastructures are not properly working, websites and applications can become slow, which in turn can frustrate users.
For e-commerce websites like Amazon, website speed is critical for business. Slowness translates to fewer purchases, and downtime can translate to losing $66,000 per minute, or $4,000,000 per hour. This gives you a good idea of how important the SRE job is.
To help meet the demand for DevOps, Holberton School covers system engineering and Devops in its curriculum. In one Holberton assignment, students build infrastructures to host and serve the Airbnb clone website they’ve coded. The infrastructure is distributed, ready to scale, secure and monitored.
Students also learn how to automate their work -- that’s a must. At Holberton, we joke that a good Software Engineer is a lazy Software Engineer: a student needs to learn how to automate repetitive tasks so that she/he can focus on more interesting problems. This is an important mentality for a student to have when entering the workforce, as it is simply impossible to manage thousands of servers manually while working for large companies like Microsoft, Snapchat or Twitter.
DevOps and Software Engineering are roles that general computer science and software engineering education often ignore. However, there is a huge demand for talent: as the tech industry grows, the number of company servers (and the need to manage them) grows as well. According to LinkedIn, the skills that Systems Engineers possess are among the top 10 most sought by employers for many cities including New-York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Because there is a market shortage, System Engineers enjoy many job opportunities and great pay. Check out the most wanted devops-type positions and average salary in the United States (source: Indeed):
- DevOps - $123,534
- Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) - $101,352
- System Engineer - $87,111
- IT Engineer - $86,947
- System Administrator - $75,396
The Holberton curriculum guides students to acquire the skills to become great System Engineers: infrastructure design, system configuration, monitoring, security, networking and incident reporting. The job is quite different from a regular Software Engineer who often has a list of features to create or bugs to fix. As a Systems Engineer, some days might be spent building things while other days might be spent fixing broken systems. However, if there is an unexpected outage and the site is down, every second will matter, and the whole company relies on its System Engineers. If you hate routine and love solving interesting problems, a career in Systems Engineering might be the role for you.
You can get a taste of what it’s like to be a System Engineer while going through Holberton’s application process. Try it: absolutely no prior experience or knowledge is required!
Holberton is among the only schools in the World that is training for SRE positions; Holberton students are hired by top tech companies, such as LinkedIn, Apple, Dropbox. To learn more about Holberton School’s unique two-year training program, visit www.holbertonschool.com