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Site Reliability Engineer

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What Is a Site Reliability Engineer? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

Site reliability engineers (SREs) are responsible for resolving technical issues that may arise in software. This role acts as a bridge between IT operations and software development teams. Here’s what to know about a site reliability engineer’s salary, needed skills and how to become one.


What Is a Site Reliability Engineer?

Site reliability engineers use DevOps principles to assist in the production and release of new software features. SREs also fix issues that arise with new releases to maintain the functionality of software products. 


What Do Site Reliability Engineers Do?

Site reliability engineers write code, monitor software and troubleshoot  bugs to provide assistance with emergency situations and timely infrastructure fixes. 

Site Reliability Engineer Responsibilities

  • Resolve issues and bugs that arise with the release of new software features. 
  • Develop software to automate processes like log analyzation and testing production environments. 
  • Document processes and procedures across IT operations and development teams.
  • Conduct post-incident reviews and investigation. 

Day-to-Day Responsibilities of Site Reliability Engineer

  • Troubleshoot bugs. 
  • Monitor software on a continuous basis. 
  • Take on-call shifts to fix issues that arise. 
  • Respond to reported incidents. 
  • Write code.

Site Reliability Engineer Within a Company

Site reliability engineers serve as a link between IT operations and software development teams. Depending on the structure of a company, there may be a singular SRE or an entire team dedicated to SRE. 

Importance of Site Reliability Engineer

Site reliability engineers are important to both IT operations and software development within a company. This role uses DevOps best practices to ensure that systems in production run smoothly and don’t result in as many issues or support requests. 

Day in the Life of a Site Reliability Engineer. Video: Random Thoughts Tech


What Skills Are Needed to Be a Site Reliability Engineer?

Qualifications to Be a Site Reliability Engineer

  • Ability to precisely document complex systems. 
  • Familiarity with various coding languages.
  • Solid understanding of software development best practices. 
  • Understanding of systems monitoring and testing. 
  • Ability to communicate complex technical ideas across teams. 
  • Ability to identify opportunities for improvement and optimization. 

Site Reliability Engineer Prerequisites

  • Site reliability engineers typically hold at least a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, engineering or a related field. 

Site Reliability Engineer Hard Skills

  • Strong IT knowledge and skills. 
  • Data analysis. 
  • Writing code to fix software issues and automate processes.
  • Database management. 
  • CI/CD pipeline development. 

Site Reliability Engineer Soft Skills

  • Communication and presentation skills.
  • Time management and organizational skills. 
  • Strong collaboration and teamwork skills.
  • Creative problem solving.  

Tools and Programs Site Reliability Engineer Use

  • Grafana
  • JIRA
  • Terraform
  • Datadog
  • Ansible
  • SaltStack
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How to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

Site Reliability Engineer Education and Experience

Site reliability engineers must have experience in both IT operations and software development. Many SREs hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science or engineering. Outside of education, aspiring SREs professionals should gain at least two to four years of related work experience. 

Site Reliability Engineer Certificates and Courses

Site Reliability Engineer Career Path

Many site reliability engineers begin their career in roles like software engineer or developer, IT support specialist and systems administrator. After becoming a site reliability engineer, someone may hold a more senior position in either IT operations or software development.


Site Reliability Engineer Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a four percent job growth rate for computer network architects, a related field, from 2020 to 2030.

The full compensation package for a site reliability engineer depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average site reliability engineer’s salary.

How do you become a site reliability engineer?

Candidates pursuing site reliability engineer roles should display a four-year degree and at least two to four years of work experience.

Those who want to become site reliability engineers (SREs) must undergo thorough technical training. Many students receive the necessary skills by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering. IT automation is another main component of SRE positions, so information technology (IT) is also a relevant major. 

After graduating, incoming professionals should gain at least two to four years of related work experience. Entry-level roles like software engineer or developer, IT support specialist and systems administrator provide avenues to break into the field. Gaining prior experience is crucial, especially in remote work environments. The most successful SREs are already familiar with IT operations, software development and what it takes to create and maintain systems.

What is the salary of a site reliability engineer?

Site reliability engineers play a critical role in seamless operations, earning an average base salary of $124,604.

According to Built In’s salary tool, site reliability engineers (SREs) in the U.S. make an average base salary of $124,604. High performers can ensure they stay in six-figure territory with an additional cash compensation of $12,674, bolstering their total compensation to $137,278. SREs may begin their careers earning $85K, but those who deliver consistent results can pursue salaries up to $255K. 

What skills does a site reliability engineer need?

Site reliability engineers should possess knowledge of software development, IT operations, testing procedures and analytical thinking.

Located at the crossroad of software development and IT operations, site reliability engineers (SREs) should be schooled in both areas. Software expertise enables SREs to wield various programming languages for writing code and automating tasks. With their additional experience in IT, SREs can then understand how to leverage automation for streamlining company operations. Striking a balance between these two disciplines is when SREs are at their best. 

SREs should also become experts at conducting tests and applying analytical thinking. Developing a testing process allows SREs to catch bugs and detect weak points, which has become essential in the age of cybersecurity. Top professionals can polish off their skill sets with strong analytical skills, assessing software and providing ways to quickly patch issues and upgrade products. If SREs can supplement these skills with problem-solving abilities and other beneficial qualities, they can thrive within their work environments. 


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