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Why Hiring a DevOps Engineer is Okay

Mark Mzyk | July 6, 2013

DevOps engineer is shorthand. It signals that a company is looking for an engineer who understands DevOps practices, such as continuous delivery and configuration management. It says that the company is looking for someone who has knowledge about development and operations. The company is looking for someone who can bring the two sides together. It’s a convenient way of saying all of this in two words.

It’s no different than when companies look for a full stack engineer. We ridicule the notion because we know the stack is so large that no one can know it all, but we’re missing the point. Companies aren’t looking for someone who knows every detail of the stack. They are signaling that they are looking for a generalist. Someone who understands how all the pieces of the stack fit together and has the knowledge to know when they should ask a specialist. A full stack engineer doesn’t know the full stack, but they know enough to recognize potential problems across boundaries and to seek help if needed.

Is every company that is seeking a DevOps or full stack engineer using these words in this way? No. Some companies probably really do believe that all they need to do is hire a DevOps engineer and then the magic of DevOps will descend upon them. It’s your responsibility as a job applicant to screen those companies out. DevOps Engineer is a convenient shorthand that is here to stay. It would be nice if companies said what they meant and didn’t use shorthand, but that’s an even harder change than spreading DevOps.