What Skills Does an SRE Engineer Need?

Published: May 26, 2021
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In the world of software engineering, there is no shortage of demand for site reliability engineers. Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) offers a demonstrably effective approach to enhancing the quality and useability of software-driven products and services. Having started off at Google, SRE is now utilized globally, creating valuable opportunities for someone with the right skills and experience.

SRE is applied to software pipelines and directs development and operations staff in a way that emphasizes performance and reliability. A site reliability engineer (sometimes called an ‘SRE engineer’) helps to bridge the gap between siloed teams while applying an engineer’s mindset to any potential problems. Automation and continuous testing are also prioritized in order to optimize speed while simultaneously enhancing quality and security. In an era where so many businesses live or die based on the quality and reliability of their software, there’s no mystery why companies from lean start-ups to multinational giants like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon are investing in SRE.

For anyone interested in becoming a site reliability engineer, there’s some great news! Unlike DevOps engineers, site reliability engineers have skills that are far easier to pin down. SRE engineers perform specific tasks, while ‘DevOps engineer’ is an umbrella term applied regardless of an individual’s role or skills. SRE is also often more consistent between practitioner organizations, making the skills more transferable.

So, what skills do you need to become a site reliability engineer?

Essential SRE skills

Scripting and coding

SRE engineers take a software-based approach to any problem in development or operations. They will work to improve and automate pipeline processes to enhance the reliability of end services. With elements like useability, security, downtime, and compliance having such an impact on businesses and customers, SRE can be an essential tool for competitive businesses.

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Because of this, candidates must be suitably confident with scripting and coding. While organizations vary in exactly what they use, some of the most in-demand are Python, Go, and Ruby. SRE engineers will also be familiar with tools like Docker, Kubernetes, and Chef. They will apply their skills across the entire pipeline, replacing manual tasks wherever possible.


SRE engineers are always busy. They work to advise on, locate, and repair issues throughout the development phase while also applying a developer’s mindset to operational issues. A candidate must show they can be proactive in not only finding problems but also offering solutions.

For the sake of driving continuous improvement, an SRE engineer must also be forward-thinking. They will typically stay up to date with potential opportunities by keeping an eye on industry and marketplace developments. With the wider SRE practitioner community constantly offering new resources and discussions on how to further enhance pipelines, there’s no time to slack off!

Comprehensive awareness

SRE engineers require a clear understanding of infrastructural elements of code-powered services, including networks, server platforms, and anything else that can impact performance. As part of their work, they will need to optimize reliability across different platforms, devices, and locations and will also need to scale solutions when necessary.

Like proactivity, having this level of awareness requires an eye on potential future improvements. However, it also involves people management and relationship building for the sake of communication and collaboration. SRE engineers can even organize practice drills and simulations to upskill different teams. They will also document interactions, processes, problems, and solutions to ensure relevant team members have easy access to the information they need.

Business talk

SRE engineers also have an important business role to play. Candidates must be capable of explaining technical elements in terms that resonate with wider business strategies. Any siloed targets or metrics should be explained in relation to their tangible impact on elements like operational costs, customer behavior, and so on. SRe engineers will also outline opportunities within the technology sphere from a business perspective and may even support business analysis.

This also works in the other direction, with SRE engineers helping to translate business requirements into actionable technical goals. This helps to keep IT aligned with governance objectives.

Studying site reliability engineering (SRE)

The most important thing to remember is that ‘site reliability engineer’ is not just a technical role. SRE is a way of managing services from software, business, human, and customer-facing standpoints, while also working directly to guarantee reliable results.

Whether for the sake of studying SRE as an individual or upskilling a team or department, online training is often the best option. Most candidates will feel more comfortable studying online, and as many providers offer months of course access, students can also study at their own pace.

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Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider. We offer fully accredited courses for SRE, DevOps, DevSecOps, and more, as well as free SRE training resources and blogs. Each of our courses is created with input from highly experienced practitioners. This helps us deliver courses that give candidates everything they need not just to get certified but also to begin applying their training in practice. Candidates can even enjoy FREE exam vouchers, as well as free resits via Exam Pledge.

Want to find out more? Visit the Good e-Learning website, or contact a member of our team today!

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