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Build and release engineers work on a variety of software development and deployment projects, ensuring that each version and release is thoroughly tested for performance and reliability. This is a programming-intensive job, requiring extensive familiarity with scripting languages along with adherence to best practices for version control and bug tracking.

Most build and release engineers work on teams of developers and project managers, where they are responsible for several elements of the final software product. Increasingly, software companies are using continuous delivery principles to make constant improvements to their products, so build and release engineers conduct and direct ongoing development work.

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Build and Release Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

While the specific responsibilities of a build and release engineer can vary between organizations, most of the job postings that we analyzed shared several essential duties:

Develop and Deploy Software

The primary responsibility of a build and release engineer is developing software from the ground up and deploying it to end users. The build and release engineer works closely with other developers, clients, and project managers to determine the functional requirements of the software or application, then uses various scripting and programming languages to develop, test, and deploy the software.

Manage Version Control

The build and release engineer plays an important role in version control efforts and ensuring that the most current version of the software includes all of the necessary updates. This aspect of the role requires extensive familiarity with version control systems like Git and a high level of attention to detail as the build and release engineer examines changes to the source code and determines whether to incorporate them into a release.

Resolve Software Issues

Another major responsibility of the build and release engineer is leading bug fixing and troubleshooting for each software version. The build and release engineer may review user-reported bugs, crash logs, and software reviews to identify areas that need improvement and attention. The build and release engineer then proposes and implements fixes that resolve those bugs without interrupting functionality or stability.

Maintain Documentation

Throughout the development and deployment process, the build and release engineer maintains software documentation for both internal use and for the end user. This documentation can include information about stable release versions, identified and resolved bugs, and potential issues that the developers may need to address post-deployment. Additionally, the build and release engineer may present these documents to project managers and other leaders to improve development processes and cut down future development time.

Contribute to Continuous Delivery Cycle

Increasingly, build and release engineers support continuous delivery programs in which patches, new versions, and bug fixes are more frequently deployed to end users without sacrificing stability or reliability. Build and release engineers working under this principle tend to oversee and contribute code to many ongoing projects at once, ensuring that versions are up to date and delivering stable performance to end users.

Build and Release Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Build and release engineers support software development and deployment through programming and bug fixes. Companies typically hire candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree and the following skills:

  • Programming and development - this role requires excellent programming skills and mastery of one or more programming languages, including Unix, PowerShell, or Python
  • Analytical thinking - build and release engineers assess software releases to identify areas to improve reliability or performance, so they should have strong analytical and assessment skills
  • Team collaboration - in this role, build and release engineers work with teams that include other developers and project managers to develop and deploy programs, so they should be effective collaborators and coordinators
  • Project management - although many build and release engineers work on teams headed by project managers, some also work in a project management capacity. This skill can help expand employment opportunities and make teams more effective
  • Problem-solving skills - bug fixes and troubleshooting are important aspects of this role, so build and release engineers should have excellent technical and creative problem-solving abilities
  • Communication skills - build and release engineers should also be effective written and verbal communicators, able to prepare reports and documentation and deliver presentations to team leaders and coworkers

Tools of the Trade

Build and release engineers work in office settings and should be able to use standard office equipment and software in addition to the following:

Version control software (Git, Apache Subversion)

Issue tracking software (JIRA, Redmine)

Build and Release Engineer Education and Training

Build and release engineers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science. Companies also prefer candidates who have some experience in software development processes and IT projects, since the build and release engineer works in cross-functional team settings. An internship in a related field can help enhance job prospects, as can familiarity with more than one programming language.

Build and Release Engineer Salary and Outlook

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide role-specific salary information for build and release engineers, its data for software engineers may provide a helpful starting point. The BLS reports that software engineers earn a median annual salary of $103,560. This estimate includes both application developers, with a median annual salary of $101,790, and systems software developers, with a median annual salary of $107,600.

Software developer employment is expected to grow at a much faster-than-average pace of 24 percent through 2026.

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Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found many resources if you’d like to learn more about working as a build and release engineer:

Beginning Build and Release Management with TFS 2017 and VSTS: Leveraging Continuous Delivery for Your Business

this book focuses on the Azure platform, Team Foundation Service, and Visual Studio Team Services and how they support build and release engineering

"Best Practices for Build and Release Management"

explore the shifting nature of build and release engineering, as well as examples of best practices in action and how they can improve efficiency and stability

Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation

read this book to learn about the process of continuous delivery and how build and release engineers fit into the development and deployment process

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