DevOps Engineer Vs. Software Engineer

Software engineers have some of the same skills as a DevOps engineer, but they lack the broad range of responsibilities of a DevOps engineer. This article explores the similarity and differences in these two careers.

Comparing DevOps Engineers to Software Engineers

Both software engineers and DevOps engineers work on designing ways to improve computer use for clients and work in an environment where collaboration with others plays a vital role. The biggest difference is in their focus. Software engineers focus on how well the computer software fits the needs of the client while a DevOps engineer has a broader focus that includes software development, how the software is deployed and providing operational support through the cloud while the software is continually functional.

To work in either of these professions requires a bachelor's degree. The median salary for a software developer or software engineer in 2017 was $102,280 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2017, the job of DevOps engineer was named the second most desirable with a median base salary of $110,000 according to Glassdoor's ''50 Best Jobs in America'' survey. For all computer occupations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in jobs between 2016 and 2026.

Responsibilities of a DevOps Engineer vs. a Software Engineer

A software engineer creates computer programs for people to use based upon their security and functionality needs. A DevOps engineer also works on computer applications, but manages the building, deployment and operation as a continuous automated process. Software engineers often work separately from the operations side of a business. They create the software a business client needs and then monitor the performance of their software products to determine if upgrades are necessary or if more serious improvements are needed. DevOps engineers work with the operational side of a business and manage the workflow to integrate software to smoothly function with automated processes. Both professions require knowledge of computer programming languages.

DevOps Engineer

DevOps engineers have both management and computer programming experience. They work as part of a team to streamline the process of creating (development) and using computer software (operations) in an online environment where the website is always functional. Businesses that sell products online using software such as image recognition require a DevOps engineer to automate services on a cloud-based platform. They build ways to deliver products that are continuously integrated within the specific architecture of a company's website. Skills needed for this job include project management as well as systems analysis and computer programming.

Job responsibilities of a DevOps engineer include:

  • Being knowledgeable about new technologies to ensure the best techniques are employed
  • Working to maintain security controls and compliance validation
  • Monitoring operations to avoid performance bottlenecks
  • Leading teams of software developers
  • Assessing the effectiveness of automation tools for building, deployment and operations of computer system

Software Engineer

Software engineers may specialize in a particular application such as retail, banking, transportation or artificial intelligence. Regardless of the software's focus, the process a software engineer uses involves consultation with the client to determine their needs. Once the type of functions are established, the software engineer designs a program for the client and works with computer programmers who write the code for the software. Finally, the software engineer evaluates how the client uses their software to ensure it is not too cumbersome.

Job responsibilities of a software engineer include:

  • Improving software performance based on client feedback
  • Evaluating the security needs of the client
  • Documenting the development and performance of the software for reference during upgrades
  • Coordinate the software installation into client's computer system

Related Careers

Automation engineers work on robots that perform tasks in industry, but the management of automated processes is similar to the work of a DevOps engineer because systems must be programmed to work independently while monitoring effectiveness. If you are interested in computer software (the programs that run on computers), you may also be interested in computer hardware (the way people interface with computers) and an engineering job designing that hardware.

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