Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Career Path


Do you want a career that allows you to experience first-hand the full power of DevOps—and even go a few steps beyond? If you want a challenging, in-demand role that goes beyond DevOps‌, the Site Reliability Engineer career path might be the right choice for you.

SRE is a growing discipline and role that fills in the gaps between Dev and Ops.

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The SRE role is concerned with the operation of the system. SRE is expected to measure the performance and reliability of her system and spend significant amounts of effort on enhancing it. SREs are the folks who will be woken up first to address the problem if there is a very major incident.

Site reliability engineers understand a large-scale distributed deployment (ex: your data are in these N data centers, your application servers are in those data centers, and your web front ends are scattered in all of these places) and work to ensure that service is uninterrupted, that operations are efficient, and that updates to the product roll on smoothly and without any visible service impact.

There are two types of Site reliability engineers: one with a system engineering background and the other with a software engineering background.

SREs with a software engineering background focus is providing tools to support engineers and the platform. They focus on internal tooling and they love building tools with business needs in mind. They think of a holistic solution that applies to all teams at an org-wide level instead of building tools for each team.

SREs with a system engineering background go deeper into the issue. They help troubleshoot performance and reliability issues. Each site reliability engineer has a specialized area of expertise. Some ‌SREs might be experts in SQL Servers, others might be in networking.

If you believe that Site reliability Engineering might be your future career, then keep reading. This article will help you in your choice.


  • What qualities you should have for the Site reliability engineer role
  • Skills and responsibilities of a Site reliability engineer
  • Educational requirements for a Site reliability engineer
  • Employers of Site reliability engineers
  • Similar Careers
  • Prepare yourself to nail SRE interview at big tech companies

1. What qualities you should have for the Site reliability engineer role

  • Experience with running HA (24/7) systems, specifically for user-facing services.
  • Something that makes it look like you’re versatile and have done a bunch of different things (i.e. a person with 10 years of experience with a narrow focus on tech is less interesting).
  • Something that shows drive - even for fresh college grads, work on open source, a link to a GitHub page that has activity on it, that sort of thing. Programming olympiads and competitions count for some of this, but they’re also selecting people who can work well with others, which OSS contributions often require.
  • What I like to call “Responding to adversity with curiosity”. This is more so something they look for in interviews, but you can see it in resumes sometimes as well - I’ve spoken to several candidates who handled the change in their workplaces, or who responded in a positive way to things you would often feel disheartened by. The ‌kind of person who as a kid would dismantle and fix broken toys, who’d not be satisfied with not knowing.

For SRE in particular, soft skills are a must - you can be as technical as you like, and have specific knowledge coming out of your ears, but having a good technique in putting across your ideas, common sense, and a curious mind will make you stand out.

2. Skills and responsibilities of a Site reliability engineer

2.1 Skills on which you can focus to be an SRE engineer

  • Coding
  • Understanding of Operating Systems
  • CI/CD pipeline knowledge
  • Know how to use Version Control Tools
  • Know how to use Monitoring Tools
  • Deep Understanding of Databases
  • Learn Cloud-Native Applications
  • Master Distributed Computing
  • Improve Your Communication

2.2 Responsibilities which SRE engineers need to fulfill:

  • Build a process to help operations and support teams
  • Fixing support escalation issues
  • Optimizing on-call rotations and processes
  • Documenting “tribal” knowledge
  • Conducting post-incident reviews

3. Educational requirements for a Site reliability engineer

  • Earn a Bachelor’s degree

For Site Reliability Engineer, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree program in Computer Science. Most employers prefer individuals with an education that will focus them on the knowledge of computers.

  • Gain work experience

The experience should follow the technical aptitudes. You can gain experience doing coursework while working at an internship, through online programs, and working in a technical role that allowed you to handle various programming platforms, languages, and operating systems previously.

If you have worked as a developer, software engineer, DevOps engineer, or system administrator you can make it easier to transition into the SRE field, because of your familiarity with complex computer systems and software integration.

  • Get professional certifications

Constantly improving your knowledge and striving to stay on top of technology trends is the key to success as Site Reliability Engineer. With SRE certifications you will gain additional experience and appeal more to potential employers.

Attend seminars and conferences related to IT. Take online courses. Earn additional certifications as an SRE and network where possible to gain insights from your fellow SREs.

Take the time to brush up on your skills and gain additional experiences. That will make you an even more formidable Site Reliability Engineer.

4. Employers of Site reliability engineers

The largest employers of Site reliability engineers are the IT companies. Below are examples of firms that hire you:

  • Google
  • Meta (Site Reliability Engineers called Production Engineers)
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Dropbox
  • Reddit (Site reliability engineers called DevOps Software engineers)
  • Stripe

See also: Google Site Reliability engineer salary

5. Similar careers

  • DevOps Engineering
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Automation and Robotics Engineering

6. Prepare yourself to nail SRE interview at big tech companies

If you need further guidance and advice on how to pursue a career in Site Reliability Engineering, how to crack your SRE interview, or perhaps, more affordable schools to kick-start your career in the field, don’t hesitate to consult with InterviewHelp. The best platform which will help you in your career path.

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