How to Become a DevSecOps Engineer
May 17, 2021

Glenn Mabry
Advanced Security

The cyber security industry has seen massive growth over the past several decades, and all signs indicate that the industry is only going to continue its meteoric rise. Young professionals who are interested in IT and cyber security can have thriving careers in this fascinating field, including a stimulating job as a DevSecOps Engineer.

What Does a DevSecOps Engineer Do?

"DevSecOps" stands for "development, security, operations," and the individuals who hold this position are responsible for bringing these three concepts together to create a more robust security system for their organization.

DevSecOps engineers typically test and monitor a company's system for vulnerabilities. Then, they will work in collaboration with program developers (often called DevOps engineers) to create new programs that patch holes in the current security program, add countermeasures to prevent against new threats, or simply make the program stronger and more effective.

DevSecOps engineers also often need to present the results of their security tests — and the programs they created to respond to those results — with other professionals within the company. Ultimately, they are responsible for keeping the company's digital data safe through monitoring, programming, testing, and communication.

Qualifications You Need to Be a DevSecOps Engineer

If you love coding and computers and you want to work in the IT world, a career as a DevSecOps engineer might be very appealing. After all, this career is exciting, connected with your interests, and lucrative (the median annual salary for a DevSecOps engineer is around $140,000).

But how do you get a job in this field?

You'll need three things: education, certification, and experience.

Education

Most cyber security jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, and DevSecOps is no exception. Because of the high level of knowledge and technical skill required for this position, employers tend to prefer candidates who have a degree in a tech-related field like computer science, cyber security, or computer engineering.

Don't have a degree in one of those fields? Don't worry; some employers will also hire candidates with degrees in math, engineering, or science — provided they have the right certifications to go with their degree. These majors still demonstrate an aptitude for analysis and advanced mathematical work (like coding), so they are still useful on your journey to becoming a DevSecOps engineer.

Certification

Even after you get your degree, most people still need a little more schooling before they can work in DevSecOps. This is because employers typically want their cyber security professionals to have certain certifications on specific fields within the cyber security industry.

If you want to be a DevSecOps engineer, you'll want to get certified through courses offered by Cisco, CompTIA, and Microsoft. It can also be useful to earn your Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification, as you this will help you learn more about running security assessments. It's also recommended to get a certification from a DevOps institute (like DevOps Foundation or DevOps Leader), as this can give you a competitive edge over other candidates for the position.

Experience

Finally, most DevSecOps engineers do not jump directly into this position — in fact, almost none of them do! The world of cyber security is high-pressure and fast-paced all the time, and learning concepts in the classroom isn't always enough preparation for on-the-job success.

Most professionals in this world spend a lot of time learning on the job in the beginning of their career. For this reason, it's best to spend a few years working in a non-DevOps IT position before moving into the cyber security department. This period of entry-level experience will give you the additional skills you need to master your DevSecOps role once you finally earn that promotion!

Important Skills to Have as a DevSecOps Engineer

In addition to the qualifications listed above, DevSecOps engineers need to learn a variety of skills that will help them succeed in their role. Here are some of the most important skills you'll need to master.

Programming and Code Writing

Development, the "dev" section of DevSecOps, is a vital part of an engineer's everyday work. When you notice a vulnerability in your company's security system, it is your responsibility (along with the team of DevOps engineers) to fix it — even if that means writing the solution yourself. Therefore, DevSecOps engineers must be able to write code.

DevSecOps engineers should be able to produce code in several programming languages, including Ruby, Perl, Java, Python and PHP. It's also important to have a firm understanding of developer tools like GitHub, dependency management, and CI/CD. You'll be working on code fairly often in this role, so the more you know, the better off you'll be!

Risk Assessment and Threat Modeling Techniques

As we just mentioned, DevSecOps engineers write code to improve their company's current security programs. But how will you know if a program needs improving? By running regular tests and analyzing the system's strengths and weaknesses! If you're going to work in ANY form of cyber security, you'll have to understand risk assessment.

Additionally, all cyber security professionals (but especially DevSecOps engineers) must understand threat modeling techniques. This means that you must be able to look at a security system and see not just the current vulnerabilities in the system, but other ways the system might be exploited in the future. This means you'll need knowledge of current cyber threats and countermeasures to protect your system.

Strong Communication and Teamwork Skills

Finally, DevSecOps engineers must be able to communicate clearly with both their peers and their employers. Managers, board members, and other professionals may want updates on the status of new security programs, and you'll need to explain your work — without using technical jargon that might confuse your colleague. Additionally, DevSecOps engineers must be able to collaborate with their fellow programmers in order to produce the best possible security solutions for the company.

With these skills, the right education, and enough work experience, you can enjoy a stimulating and engaging job in the cyber security industry. This is a field that is sure to boom in the coming years, so get ready for one exciting career!

Glenn Mabry is a Senior Instructor/Security Researcher for Advanced Security
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