DevOps professionals are needed in today’s organizations more than ever to support digital transformation and ensure quicker, more innovative development cycles. Over the next five years, DevOps skills are projected to grow 122%, which means endless possibilities for career advancement in this ever-evolving field.
Whether you’re just starting out in your DevOps career or are more experienced in this growing field, DevOps certification helps you level up in your career.
What is DevOps Certification?
DevOps certification is an accredited credential that validates and builds your knowledge of DevOps skills and practices. Earning a DevOps certification demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter through coursework, assessment, or performance reviews.
What Are the Benefits of a DevOps Certification?
Earning a DevOps certification means more job opportunities and professional growth. Some certifications allow you to specialize in a platform which sets you up for career advancement. Other certifications diversify your skill set and thus open you up to a variety of roles as well as platforms to work with in the future.
DevOps certification also increases your earning potential. DevOps engineers in the US, for example, earn an average salary of $93,000, while a mid-level DevOps engineer earns an average salary of $102,000. Working towards a certification helps you get to that next level.
Top 8 DevOps Certifications
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Amazon’s AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certification validates the ability to automate the testing and deployment of AWS infrastructure and applications.
This certification is geared towards individuals with at least two years of experience provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments.
Before taking the exam, the following experience is recommended:
- Coding in at least one high-level programming language
- Building highly automated infrastructures
- Administering operating systems
- Understanding of modern development and operations processes and methodologies
- Implementing and managing CD systems and methodologies on AWS
- Implementing and automating security controls, governance processes, and compliance validation
- Defining and deploying monitoring, metrics, and logging systems on AWS
The DOP-C01 exam contains multiple choice and multiple response questions and is administered either at a testing center or via online proctoring services. Preparation for the exam is self-guided. The exam guide, practice exams, and other AWS training resources are available to aid in preparation. Expect the exam preparation to take 1-2 weeks.
The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer-Professional certification costs $300.
Best for: those with some experience working in an AWS environment who want to validate and deepen their knowledge of AWS systems.
Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert
Microsoft’s DevOps Engineer Expert certification is for individuals who already have experience with both Azure administration and development and expertise in at least one of these areas.
As such, you must first have at least one of the associate certificates: the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator certification or the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate certification.
Upon earning this certification, you are qualified to design and implement strategies for the following areas within the organization:
- Continuous integration
- Source control
To prepare for the AZ-400 exam, you have the option to go through self-paced study modules for free or pay a fee to go through the modules with an instructor. Expect the exam preparation to take 4-6 weeks.
The exam for Microsoft’s DevOps Engineer Expert certification costs $165.
Best for: those who have experience with Azure development and administration who want to get to the next level of their DevOps career.
DevOps Foundation (DOFD)
The DevOps Institute offers a DevOps Foundation certification that will validate an individual’s knowledge and skills in the following areas:
- Foundational DevOps concepts, terminology, practices, and principles
- Business and technology frameworks
- Culture, behaviors, and operating models
- Automation and architecting DevOps toolchains
- Measurement, metrics, and reporting
- Sharing, shadowing, and evolving
More specifically, with this certification individuals get a solid understanding of CI/CD, testing, security, and “The Three Ways,” DevOps relationships to other methodologies, such as Agile and Lean, and more.
There are no prerequisites to taking the open-book web-based exam that contains 40 multiple-choice questions. To study for the exam, you can choose the instructor-led or self-study option. Regardless, expect the exam prep to take a total of 16 hours.
The DevOps Foundation certification exam costs $245.
Best for: aspiring entry-level DevOps professionals
DevOps Engineering Foundation (DOEF)
A second certification from the DevOps Institute, the DevOps Engineering Foundation, ensures foundational understanding of core knowledge, principles and practices but from a technical perspective that is needed to engineer a successful DevOps solution.
A sample of covered topics includes the following:
- How to engineer DevOps solutions
- DevOps applications, architectures, and technologies
- Continuous delivery and deployment metrics
- Continuous integration
- Continuous testing
- Ephemeral elastic infrastructures
As with the DevOps Foundation certification, there are no prerequisites for the DevOps Engineering Foundation certification. Individuals answer 40 multiple-choice questions in the open-book web-based exam. One can opt for the instructor-led or self-study option. Exam prep takes 16 hours.
The DevOps Engineering Foundation certification exam costs $245.
Best for: aspiring DevOps engineers who want to gain technical DevOps knowledge
Docker Certified Associate (DCA)
The Docker Certified Associate exam is designed by experienced Docker practitioners and validates the foundational Docker skill set. It tests mastery of topics, such as networking, orchestration, security, image creation, and more.
Several institutions offer exam prep courses, so budget 24-36 hours of study time. The course cost will also vary, depending on which training program you opt for.
The Docker Certified Associate exam fee itself costs $195.
Best for: those with minimal Docker experience (one year or less) who want to sharpen their Docker knowledge
Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification
Google’s Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification is intended for those who want to become skilled at using Google Cloud to build software delivery pipelines, deploy and monitor services, and manage and learn from incidents.
The exam tests an individual’s knowledge of the following areas:
- Application of site reliability engineering principles to a service
- Service performance optimization
- Implementation of service monitoring strategies
- Building and implementation of CI/CD pipelines for a service
- Service incident management
The exam, to be taken at a testing center or remotely via online proctoring, contains multiple-choice questions and takes two hours. There are no prerequisites to taking the exam, however, as with the AWS certification, at least three years of industry experience and at least one year of experience managing solutions on Google Cloud is recommended.
Preparation includes studying the exam guide provided, four free self-guided courses, 13 labs, a free webinar, and sample exam questions. Depending on familiarity with Google Cloud, course prep can take five hours per day over a course of 1-3 months.
The Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer certification exam costs $200.
Best for: experienced cloud developers, especially those who are familiar with Google Cloud
HashiCorp Certified Terraform Associate DevOps Certification
HashiCorp’s Terraform Associate certification is designed for cloud engineers who specialize in operations, IT, or development and know the basic concepts and skills associated with open source HashiCorp Terraform.
It’s not required but recommended that candidates have professional experience using Terraform in production. However, if that’s not the case, individuals may also perform the exam objectives in a personal demo environment.
Upon earning this certification, the recipient understands which enterprise features exist and what can and cannot be done using the open source offering. Recipients must retake the exam every two years to remain current.
The exam is an online proctored exam consisting of multiple-choice questions. An online, self-paced study guide, review guide, and sample questions are available to candidates for free. Exam prep takes up to 50 hours, depending on learning pace.
Topics learned include:
- State implementation and maintenance
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC) concepts
- Interaction of Terraform modules
- Terraform’s purpose
- Terraform basics
- Terraform CLI
- Terraform Cloud and Enterprise capabilities
- Navigation of Terraform workflow
The HashiCorp Certified Terraform Associate certification costs $70.50.
Best for: experienced cloud engineers seeking to validate their knowledge of the Terraform platform.
Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)
The Certified Kubernetes Administrator certification demonstrates mastery of the skills, knowledge, and proficiencies that a Kubernetes Administrator should hold, including but not limited to:
- Application Lifecycle Management
- Cluster Maintenance
- Core Concepts
- Installation, configuration, and validation
The online-administered exam contains performance-based questions that the candidate has to solve in order to demonstrate their competence in a command-line environment in Kubernetes. This certification is good for three years before recipients have to take the exam again.
The Kubernetes Fundamentals online 35-hour prep course offered through the Linux Foundation is self-paced and costs an additional $299. However, it’s possible to bundle the exam and course together for a total price of $575. Alternatively, Udemy offers an exam prep course for $149, currently discounted to $24.99 at the time of writing. Budget up to 50 hours of study time for this exam.
The Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam on its own costs $375 and includes one free re-take.
Best for: those who have experience with Kubernetes who want to advance to the level of being able to administer deployment tasks on the Kubernetes system.
Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)
The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer exam certifies that the recipient can design, build, configure, and expose cloud native applications for Kubernetes and has acquired a solid understanding of the following tasks:
- Working with (OCI-compliant) container images
- Applying Cloud Native application concepts and architectures
- Working with and validating Kubernetes resource definitions
Upon certification, a Kubernetes Application Developer can define application resources and use core primitives to build, monitor, and troubleshoot scalable applications and tools in Kubernetes.
The exam prep course covers necessary topics for the exam, such as container runtimes and microservice architecture.
The online-administered exam contains performance-based questions that the candidate has to solve in order to demonstrate their competence in a command-line environment in Kubernetes.
The Kubernetes for Developers online 35-hour prep course is self-paced and costs an additional $299. However, it’s possible to bundle the exam and course together for a total price of $575. Udemy also offers an exam prep course for $139.99, currently discounted to $22.99 at the time of writing. Expect to spend between 13 and 35 hours studying.
The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer exam on its own costs $375 and includes one free re-take.
Best for: experienced cloud developers who already possess basic knowledge of Kubernetes
Which DevOps Certification Is Right For You?
The right certification for you will depend on where you’re at in your career and which tool or platform you need to master in order to perform well in your current or desired DevOps role.
If you’re just starting out in your DevOps career, a more general DevOps certification, such as the DevOps Foundation or DevOps Engineering Foundation certifications, may be a good fit. However, if you know exactly which platform you want to work with or are already working with a particular platform, investigate the more specific options for AWS, Google Cloud, HashiCorp’s Terraform, or Kubernetes.
Cost may pose a formidable barrier, especially for aspiring DevOps professionals, however, HashiCorp’s certification is affordable, and employers may subsidize some or all certification costs.
Certification pathways are often available for continued professional development in this growing field.