Do you want to begin a career in IT but don’t feel interested in traditional positions like software development? Do you pay close attention to details and enjoy solving minute problems? Finding a career as a site reliability engineer, or SRE, might be the answer.
Site reliability managers primarily focus on automating easy tasks within a system, enhancing system functionality/reducing error, and detecting/fixing problems. The job of an effective SRE is to ensure that systems function as smoothly as possible, eliminating extra work for IT teams and reducing the likelihood of system collapse.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an SRE, the professionals at Acure have put together the following guide on SREs. We will break down the characteristics of an ideal SRE candidate, the general requirements for the job, and day-to-day SRE practices. Keep reading to find out more.
Who Is SRE?
In the past, software development teams created programs without the help of IT teams. After the software teams successfully designed their systems, they pass their work onto an IT team. This IT team would then be responsible for fixing errors, taking calls, and maintaining and deploying the program.
A site reliability engineer is a position that Google created to streamline IT processes. This position is the bridge between IT operators and software developers, capitalizing upon the practices of DevOps. Where DevOps primarily focuses on ensuring that operation and developer teams work together to create reliable systems and develop products, SREs work to enhance system reliability and resilience.
SREs primarily monitor the following aspects of a system:
- Website Traffic
- System Errors
- System Latency
- System Automation
- Incident Response
👉 Read more about SRE principles and its benefits for organizations in our previous article.
Career and Salary 💰
The average salary of an SRE in the United States is around $100,000 a year. It is also common for SREs to earn bonuses that amount to a little over $20,000 extra a year. The more experience you gain as an SRE, the more money you will make.
Employers are more likely to hire candidates with a degree in computer science, though sufficient certifications and previous background in IT can guarantee you a position in a company. Some companies will allow you to work remotely, while others may require that you come into the office. Popular companies for SREs include Target, Twitter, Adobe, Wayfair, etc.
Role and Responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of an SRE (or SRE teams) include:
- Fixing issues with a program/system
- Quickly responding to client problems
- Creating software to streamline processes for IT workers
- Managing on-call responsibilities
- Documenting their knowledge of systems and common errors
- Automating system administration
- Analyzing past problems to prevent future errors
SREs constantly look for new ways to improve systems and reduce common errors or incidents. If such a malfunction occurs, an SRE must address the error quickly. Then, the SRE ought to reflect on how they can prevent such an error from occurring in the future by enhancing the reliability of that system.
Many site reliability engineers use AI programs to streamline their job. Such programs sort through system issues to determine which alerts are important. These AI programs enhance the reliability of an SRE by ensuring that their IT services perform well without wasting time.
Skills, Courses, and Certification 🎓
People who are most suitable for a career in system reliability engineering must:
- Be quick on their feet
- Easily understand the basics of a system even if they have not seen it before
- Enjoy building complex software and systems
- Possess curiosity and a love for learning
- Stay calm despite feeling pressured
Beyond these characteristics, SREs must have some background in IT or software development. However, ideal candidates do not come from a specific discipline in IT. Anyone from a biochemist to a self-taught candidate for sysadmin can find success in a career as an SRE.
Suggested Courses and Skills for SREs
Having a background and/or certification in certain programs and coding is helpful when applying for site reliability engineer jobs. You should learn how to program shell scripts as well as understand programming languages such as C, Rust, Go, Python, and Java.
We also suggest that you learn how to create websites. To do so, either take a course or use cloud servers such as Amazon Web Services or Digital Ocean on your own time. Creating your website by coding your own HTML or using old-school programming methods such as PHP and MySQL can also help you become a better SRE.
Learning about automation through a continuous integration pipeline like Jenkins or Travis CI is also helpful. Furthermore, you should also know some basic code editing skills. Use programs such as Atom or Eclipse for coding practice.
You must also have a basic understanding of NoSQL databases and data models. Understanding Linux and service-oriented architecture (SOA) is also quite helpful. We also recommend you understand monitoring tools and software systems (such as Acure).
Though not all of these skills are necessary to become an SRE, they will help you succeed in your career.
Potential Online Courses
If you feel you have a sufficient background in coding, automation, programming languages, etc., reinforce your skills through online courses and other study materials. These certifications will help you get a feel for the SRE career path and make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.
- Site Reliability Engineering Certification
- Tools, Automation, and Troubleshooting for SRE
- Automation for SRE
- Foundational Training for Site Reliability Engineering
- System Reliability in SRE
Further Enhancement of SRE Skills Through Acure
If becoming a site reliability engineer interests you, we highly recommend learning about products such as Acure. We provide an IT Ops tool that SRE managers use to ensure the smooth functioning of IT services, alerting SREs only when the error is pertinent. System reliability managers who use Acure must have prior knowledge of how the platform operates.