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Site Reliability Engineer: Skills, Career, Roles and Responsibilities

03rd Jan, 2024
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    Site Reliability Engineer: Skills, Career, Roles and Responsibilities

    As the world becomes increasingly reliant on digital devices and applications, the role of site reliability engineer (SRE) becomes more important. Well, it's not an easy job. But it is a very rewarding one. As a Site Reliability Engineer, you are responsible for ensuring that the company's website and online systems are always up and running. This requires a lot of technical skills and knowledge, as well as strong problem-solving abilities. You can learn these skills by enrolling in a DevOps Foundation Certification online and getting trained by professional teachers.

    And if you are interested in becoming a Site Reliability Engineer, or if you just want to learn more about what the job entails, then read on! We will describe what skills and traits are needed for the job, as well as what day-to-day tasks a Site Reliability Engineer might perform.

    What is a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)?

    A site reliability engineer is a type of software engineer who is responsible for ensuring the availability, performance, and scalability of a website or application. As the demand for better online experiences continues to grow, site reliability engineering is becoming an increasingly important field. With the help of a site reliability engineer, businesses can keep their websites and applications running smoothly, even under high-traffic conditions. So, what does a site reliability engineer do exactly? Let’s learn in the further section.

    What Does a Site Reliability Engineer Do?

    As discussed above, a site reliability engineer (SRE) is responsible for the smooth operation of a company's website or application. They work closely with developers to identify and fix potential issues before they cause problems for users. Site reliability engineers also monitor systems and create plans for responding to incidents. In many cases, they are on call 24/7 in case of an emergency. 

    Additionally, SREs are often involved in capacity planning and performance tuning to ensure that the site can handle increased traffic without issue. As such, SREs play a vital role in ensuring that a company's website or application is always available and performant.

    Required Skills to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

    Skills to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

    Let’s take a look at the most important site reliability engineer skills that you need to have in order to fulfill this role. 

    1. Coding languages

    As an SRE, you will need to be proficient in at least one coding language. This is because you will often be required to write code in order to automate tasks or build tools. The most popular coding languages among SREs are Python, Java, and Go.  

    2. CI/CD pipeline development

    In order to release code changes safely and efficiently, you will need to be well-versed in continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipelines.

    3. Mastered distributed computing

    Many companies today use distributed systems in order to achieve high availability and scalability. As an SRE, you will need to have a deep understanding of how distributed systems work in order to be able to troubleshoot and optimize them.

    4. Using Monitoring tools

    Monitoring is essential for keeping track of the health of company services and products. As an SRE, you should be familiar with various monitoring tools such as Prometheus, Solarwinds, Pingdom, Zabbix, and Zoho.

    5. Using version control tools

    Version control tools such as Git are used by developers to share and manage code changes. As an SRE, you will need to be familiar with these tools in order to help developers with code deployments.

    6. Understanding operating systems

    To effectively manage company services, you will need to have a deep understanding of various operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and macOS.

    7. Deep understanding of databases

    Databases are often used by company services in order to store data. As an SRE, you should have a deep understanding of how different types of databases work in order to be able to effectively troubleshoot any issues that may arise.  

    8. Automation skills

    Automation is crucial for reducing the amount of manual work that needs to be done in order to maintain company services. As an SRE, you should be proficient in various automation tools such as ACCELQ and Avo Assure. 

    9. Knowing cloud-native applications

    Cloud-native applications are designed specifically for deployment on cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure. As an SRE, you should have experience working with cloud-native applications to manage them effectively.

    10. Precise communication

    One of the most important skills for any site reliability engineer is the ability to communicate clearly and concisely. This is because you will often need to relay important information about system alerts or outages to other members of your team. 

    11. Problem-solving

    Last but not least, being able to solve problems quickly and effectively is essential for any site reliability engineer. This skill will come in handy when dealing with unexpected outages or performance issues. 

    Common Tools Used by Site Reliability Engineer

    Site reliability engineers are responsible for keeping critical systems up and running. To do this, they rely on a variety of tools. Some of the most common site reliability engineer tools include monitoring tools, configuration management tools, and automation tools. 

    • Incident management/on-call: such as VictorOps and PagerDuty  
    • Monitoring: such tools include NewRelic and AWS CloudWatch 
    • Infrastructure orchestration: including SaltStack and Terraform  
    • Project management and issue tracking: such as Trello and Jira  

    Roles and Responsibilities of a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)

    SRE Job Description

    A site reliability engineer's responsibilities can be divided into two main categories: technical work and process work. Technical work includes things like writing code to automate tasks, provisioning new servers, and troubleshooting outages when they do occur. Process work includes things like on-call rotations, incident response, and reviewing post-incident reports.

    1. Building software to help DevOps, ITOps & support teams

    The main focus of an SRE is on building software to automate away as much toil as possible. Toil is defined as any work that could be easily automated but isn’t because it’s monotonous, time-consuming, or requires too much Context Switching. A few examples of toil that an SRE might automate away are manual incident response tasks, routine maintenance tasks, or capacity planning tasks.  

    2. Fixing support escalation issues

    An SRE will also often be responsible for handling support escalations. This involves working with customers or other teams to identify and fix production issues. In many cases, the root cause of an issue will be found in code or infrastructure changes that were made recently. As such, the SRE team needs to have a good understanding of both the codebase and the infrastructure in order to effectively debug production issues.

    3. Optimizing on-call rotations & processes

    Part of being an effective site reliability engineer team is being available 24/7 to handle production issues as they arise. To facilitate this, most SRE teams have an on-call rotation where each member takes turns being available during off hours.

    An SRE may also be responsible for optimizing the on-call rotation as well as the overall incident response process. For example, an SRE may work with other teams to set up alerts in a centralized logging tool so that critical errors can be detected and addressed quickly.

    4. Documenting “tribal” knowledge

    The site engineer is also responsible for documenting tribal knowledge. Tribal knowledge is the know-how that is passed down from generation to generation of workers. It includes skills, techniques, and traditions that are not written down anywhere but are essential to the work. By documenting tribal knowledge, the site engineer ensures that it can be passed onto future teams and used to improve project outcomes.

    5. Conducting post-incident reviews

    Post-incident reviews (PIRs) are another important responsibility of an SRE. A PIR is conducted after every significant incident in order to identify what went wrong and how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. PIRs typically involve representatives from all teams involved in the incident as well as any customers who were affected. The goal of a PIR is to identify systemic issues so that they can be fixed before they cause another outage.

    Site Reliability Engineer Career Path

    The site reliability engineer career path typically starts with a few years of experience in website administration or operations before moving into a role as an SRE. With experience, SREs can advance into senior roles such as lead SRE or site reliability manager. Those with advanced skills may also choose to specialize in a particular area of website operations, such as security or performance.

    The site reliability engineer role requires a deep understanding of both software development and systems administration. As such, it is often a good career choice for those with several years of experience in one or both of these fields. Most companies require site reliability engineers to have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. 

    Site Reliability Engineer Vs. DevOps Engineer

    While the roles of site reliability engineer and DevOps engineer may, at first glance, appear to be quite similar, there are actually a few keyways in which they differ. Perhaps the most significant difference is in their primary areas of focus.

    DevOps engineers are primarily concerned with solving development problems and building solutions to meet business requirements, while site reliability engineers are primarily focused on dealing with operational issues such as production failures, infrastructure problems, security, and monitoring.

    Another important difference is that site reliability engineers typically work within a specific company or organization, while DevOps engineers may work as freelancers or consultancies, providing their services to multiple clients.

    Benefits of Becoming a Site Reliability Engineer?

    There are many benefits to becoming an SRE, including the following:

    1. The ability to work with a variety of teams and technologies. SREs need to have a good understanding of IT operations, support and software engineering in order to be successful. As a result, they often have a broad skill set that allows them to work with a variety of teams and technologies.
    2. A focus on preventative measures. One of the main goals of a site reliability engineer is to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. This focus on preventative measures leads to fewer incidents and better overall performance.
    3. Improved collaboration between IT and developers. SREs, serve as a bridge between IT and developers, which can lead to improved collaboration between these two groups. This improved collaboration can lead to shorter feedback loops and more reliable software.
    4. The opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies. SREs often have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies, as they are often involved in testing and implementing new solutions.
    5. A highly rewarding career. Site reliability engineering can be a highly rewarding career for those who are interested in improving the availability and performance of critical systems. SREs often receive satisfaction from knowing that they are playing a vital role in keeping systems up and running smoothly.

    Site Reliability Engineer Salary and Job Growth

    A career as a Site Reliability Engineer can be extremely rewarding, both financially and professionally. According to PayScale, the average site reliability engineering salary in the United States is $117,768 per year. However, salaries can range anywhere from $76,000 to $158,000 per year, depending on experience and location.  

    In addition to a competitive salary, job growth in this field is expected to be strong in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow significantly in the next few years, faster than the average for all occupations. With the ever-growing importance of technology in our world, it's no wonder that careers in this field are on the rise. 


    So, there you have it- a complete guide on what is a site reliability engineer and related aspects. If you are looking for a position in this field, it’s important to remember that being able to work well under pressure and make decisions quickly is just as important as having the technical skills required for the job.  

    Site reliability engineering is a relatively new field, but it’s one that is growing rapidly as more and more companies recognize the importance of having someone who can keep their systems up and running smoothly.  

    If you think you have what it takes to be a successful site reliability engineer, don’t hesitate to start your search for the perfect position today. You can go for KnowledgeHut’s DevOps Foundation Certification Online, which will give you the necessary skills and foundations for the job. With the certification, you will know how to become a site reliability engineer with the necessary skills.  

    Site Reliability Engineer FAQs

    1Why should I pursue a career as a site reliability engineer?

    Why should you pursue a career as a site reliability engineer? First, it's a high-paying job with great benefits. Second, it's a role that is in high demand and will only become more so as the world increasingly depends on technology. Third, it's a challenging and interesting field that offers opportunities for continued learning and growth.  

    2What is the difference between a site reliability engineer and a software engineer?

    As a whole, site reliability engineers (SREs) focus on maintaining reliability, while software engineers (SREs) are responsible for designing software. Talking about site reliability engineer vs software engineer, there is some overlap between those roles, of course. Both SWEs and SREs want their applications to be reliable.

    3How long does it take to become a site reliability engineer?

    Generally speaking, it takes about 2-3 years to become a site reliability engineer. Of course, this depends on a number of factors, such as your prior experience, whether you have a related degree, and how quickly you learn new things.  

    4Is site reliability engineer a good career?

    SREs are responsible for keeping systems up and running smoothly, and they need to have a deep understanding of how system components work together. They also need to be able to code, so they can automate tasks and create tools to help with their job. If you are interested in becoming an SRE, you should definitely consider it! The demand for these types of engineers is only going to grow in the future. 


    Abhresh Sugandhi


    Abhresh is specialized as a corporate trainer, He has a decade of experience in technical training blended with virtual webinars and instructor-led session created courses, tutorials, and articles for organizations. He is also the founder of, which offers multiple services in technical training, project consulting, content development, etc.

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