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What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Site Reliability Engineer?

Posted on 
October 17, 2022
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Site reliability engineering became popular to combat poor visibility in the software development lifecycle and the reduced impact of software applications. Site reliability engineers are responsible for building software programs that maintain the efficiency of their application systems. They build effective systems to improve site reliability and performance.

If you are a site reliability engineer or aspiring to be one, you must be curious about the role's responsibilities. This post aims to give you an idea of what skills and qualifications site reliability roles at companies require, site reliability engineer roles and responsibilities, and some frequently asked questions.

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Let’s go ahead and look at a site reliability engineer's roles and responsibilities and the crucial skills required to fulfill the expectations of the role.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What Does a Site Reliability Engineer Do?
  • Key Practices of Site Reliability Engineering
  • Skills Required to Become a Site Reliability Engineer
  • Site Reliability Engineer’s Roles and Responsibilities
  • Site Reliability Engineer Salary in the US
  • FAQs on Site Reliability Engineer’s Roles and Responsibilities 

What Does a Site Reliability Engineer Do?

Site reliability engineers are responsible for improving the quality of software processes and services in production. They design code to automate processes to improve the efficiency of deliverables and act as a bridge between development and operations.

In a nutshell, site reliability engineers are responsible for testing the production environment, latency, availability, change management, efficiency, monitoring, capacity planning, and emergency response handling of software development processes and production services.

Key Practices of Site Reliability Engineering

Site reliability engineering covers multiple aspects that govern the software development and production lifecycle. They focus on building software that specifically aims to improve the reliability of code and systems to prevent unreliable systems from reaching production.

The key practices of site reliability engineering include:

  • Availability - ensuring all resources required for developers and IT operations are readily available.
  • Monitoring - Ensuring systems perform optimally by monitoring various stages of the life cycle.
  • Performance - Improving system performance by building reliable software systems.
  • Incident Response - Analyzing and reviewing incidents, fixing errors, and responding appropriately to system issues.
  • Preparation - Preparing for instances that can come in the way of system reliability during production.

SREs work with DevOps teams to ensure that accountability is high at every stage of the development and production lifecycle. In the following section, we’ll look at some necessary skills to become a site reliability engineer.

Skills Required to Become a Site Reliability Engineer

To fulfill the site reliability engineer’s roles and responsibilities, you must demonstrate strong technical depth in the following areas.

  • Familiarity with important automation tools to automate software processes and improve system reliability and performance. 
  • Good coding skills and knowledge of programming languages, preferably Object Oriented Programming Languages, such as Python, Java, Ruby, Perl, and PHP
  • Understanding and in-depth knowledge of operating systems, preferably Linux and Windows
  • Working knowledge of building CI/CD pipelines for software applications and processes
  • Working knowledge of version control tools to make coding and automation more efficient and reliable
  • Working knowledge of distributed computing and Microservices
  • Working knowledge of SQL and NoSQL databases
  • Working knowledge of popular cloud environments, and their core features

Are you preparing for your upcoming Site Reliability Engineer interview? Read Google SRE Interview Preparation for some helpful tips.

Site Reliability Engineer’s Roles and Responsibilities

Site reliability engineers serve as the main bridge between development and IT operations. In this section, we’ll look at the main site reliability engineer’s roles and responsibilities.

1. Building and designing software for DevOps, operations, and support teams

Site reliability engineers design software to improve the accountability of developers, IT operations, and support teams. They proactively ensure that the Quality Assurance parameters of each team are satisfactorily met to avoid unreliable systems going into production.

Site reliability engineers closely monitor software and system performance during IT infrastructure deployment. They monitor these four main areas to ensure enhanced system reliability and performance:

  • Traffic
  • Errors
  • Saturation
  • Latency 

2. Fixing issues in the software development cycle and during production

Fixing issues is a key area that site reliability engineers are responsible for. In the old system, before the emergence of DevOps, developers passed code on to IT operations without taking full ownership during program deployment. Site reliability engineers work closely with DevOps engineers to fix bugs and other issues in the development lifecycle to prevent unreliable systems/infrastructure from reaching production. 

3. Conducting reviews and analyses of events and incidents

Several events and instances of code development, operations, and deployment form part of the production lifecycle. Site reliability engineers monitor events closely and conduct reviews to enhance the performance of systems when they hit production.

4. Optimizing processes in the software development and production lifecycle

The reliable deployment of production systems requires several processes to be optimized for better performance and output. Site reliability engineers ensure that processes are optimized from the development stage to the deployment stage. They do this by building robust software that monitors various processes of the production lifecycle.

5. Troubleshooting issues and escalations

Troubleshooting is a key responsibility of site reliability engineers. SREs build software that captures bugs and issues to improve system reliability. They then troubleshoot issues and escalations in development, operations, and production environments to ensure that infrastructure deployed during production is efficient and reliable.

These above aspects spell out the responsibilities of site reliability engineers. The demand for SREs has risen steadily recently as more complex, high-performing software applications and infrastructures are deployed into production. The role’s popularity makes SREs enjoy high-paying salaries, especially at top companies. In the next section, we’ll give you an idea about SRE salaries in the United States.

Average Site Reliability Engineer Salary in the US

Given the increasing demand for site reliability engineers, companies are paying lucrative salaries to engineers with the required skill set to fulfill the role’s responsibilities. The average base salary of a site reliability engineer in the US is $133,723 per year (Source: indeed.com). Since this is an average figure, it can change based on the role, experience, location, company, and several other factors.

Further, the site reliability engineer manager's salary is $200,000 per year on average, and the senior site reliability engineer's salary is $140,000 per year in the US (Source: comparably.com).

average-site-reliability-engineer-salary-in-the-us

From the graph above, we understand that Google offers the highest salaries to site reliability engineers, followed by Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

You can learn more about Site Reliability Engineer’s Salaries in the US here.

We hope this article has given valuable insights into the site reliability engineer’s roles and responsibilities. Knowing what the role entails will help you prepare accordingly for your SRE interview. To learn more about the SRE interview process in FAANG companies, various rounds, and the interview questions you’ll have to solve, check out our blog on Google SRE Interview Process.

FAQs on Site Reliability Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Q1. What does a site reliability engineer do?

Site reliability engineers act as a bridge between development and operations by designing and developing software for various processes to optimize systems. Their primary role is to ensure that the performance of software systems is optimal and systems are reliable during production.

Q2. What’s the average site reliability engineer salary?

The average site reliability engineer salary in the US is $133,723 per year, according to Indeed.com.

Q3. What are some skills required to become a site reliability engineer?

Some skills required to become a site reliability engineer include working knowledge of distributed systems and Microservices, knowledge of SQL and NoSQL databases, experience in building and designing code, and knowledge of CI/CD pipelines. 

Q4. Which company among FAANG is known to offer the highest salaries to site reliability engineers?

Among FAANG companies, Google is known to offer the highest average salary to site reliability engineers. The average Google site reliability engineer salary in the US is $209,532.

Q5. How much does a senior site reliability engineer earn?

A senior site reliability engineer’s salary is $140,000 per year, according to comparably.com.

Need Help With Site Reliability Engineer Interview Prep?

If you need help with your prep, join Interview Kickstart’s Site Reliability Engineer Interview Coursethe first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed and taught by FAANG+ instructors. 

IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. 

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How FAANG hiring process works
The 4 areas you must prepare for
How you can accelerate your learnings
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