Release Engineer Job Description
It takes a village to raise a child… and to complete a new software product! One member of this village is the release engineer, also referred to as a build engineer or build and release engineer. These professionals use their knowledge of coding and programming languages to ensure that all hardware and software components work together correctly. Neither software engineers nor software developers, release engineers essentially build software packages across multiple platforms. They work with production members, software engineers, and QA professionals to make sure that products are configured and implemented successfully. Release engineers work for technical production companies, software development companies, and computer manufacturing firms. This is typically a full-time position where individuals enjoy vacation time, health benefits, paid time off, and retirement plans (depending on the employer).
Release Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
No two release engineers are exactly alike, as required skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Build and Oversee Release Platform
From writing and executing test scripts to building software packages, release engineers ensure that new products are configured and coded properly for successful integration and operations. They assemble data on release metrics, oversee the source code management system, maintain multiple build environments, and document steps relating to the release process.
Assess Software Performance
Release engineers are responsible for assessing the quality and risks of new products. They build test environments and troubleshoot any issues pertaining to the software’s performance. They work with software engineers to resolve any issues and document fixes for use in future reference materials.
Set Release Schedule
Using data analysis and production progress reports, release engineers organize a release schedule for a software product. They perform integration, oversee release deployment, generate release notes, and configure software to all platforms.
Assist Development Team
Release engineers build tools to support the software engineering process, review engineering practices, assist in researching new technologies, and meet with the development team to discuss future needs. They also provide ongoing support for completed products and maintain servers.
Release Engineer Skills and Qualifications
Successful release engineers have a strong understanding of computer languages and are typically detail-oriented, time-conscious multitaskers. Those entering this field should display the following skills:
- Programming – release engineers are proficient in various computer languages and demonstrate a full understanding of programming best practices; knowledge of databases, networking systems, and computer operating systems is also essential
- Troubleshooting – testing new software to identify and resolve any potential issues is a major part of this role
- Analytical thinking – analyzing instructions to create code is a requirement for release engineers
- Collaboration– release engineers regularly work with software developers, production managers, testers, vendors, and others involved in the production process
- Communication skills – strong verbal and written communication skills are essential, as release engineers communicate with various personnel and help write manuals and reference materials
- Time management – in order to make new software products available to the public in a timely manner, companies rely on release engineers to build systems and fix bugs according to schedule
- Change management – release engineers can comfortably adapt to any changes in the production process and can meet rescheduled deadlines
Release Engineer Education and Training
Release Engineer Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all professionals involved in computer programming, including release engineers, earn an annual median salary of just over $82,000. Release engineers in the lowest 10th percentile can make about $47,000 per year, while high earners are paid around $132,500 annually.
Release engineers working for software publishers realize the highest annual salaries in this field, at about $100,000. Those employed in computer systems design can earn yearly salaries of $87,500. Those employed in the state of Washington earn the highest salaries in the U.S. ($121,000), followed by professionals in the District of Columbia (nearly $102,000) and California (just over $96,000). Colorado and Virginia round out the top five states at $96,000 and $95,000, respectively.
According to the BLS, this occupation could see a 7 percent decline over the next decade or so, primarily due to outsourcing. Prospective release engineers with a bachelor’s degree and knowledge of a wide variety of programming languages will fare best in the job market.
Ready to pursue a career as a release engineer? If so, you can benefit from accessing the links provided below, which provide further detail about what’s involved in working as a release engineer:
IEEE: Technical Council on Software Engineering – as a TCSE member, you can attend conferences and workshops that’ll bring you up to date on the latest software development tools and technologies
Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases Through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation – from integration and testing to successful configuration management strategies, this comprehensive book explores all of the aspects of working as a release engineer
Association for Software Testing – network with other release engineers, testers, and developers; attend educational conferences; take courses; and access online videos as an AST member
Asana Blog – hosted by web and mobile app developer Asana, this blog gives readers an inside look at the software creation process with developer interviews, posts about code bases and testing, and overviews of the latest industry trends
CODE Magazine – release engineers can review the latest technologies, best practices, and industry trends with this online publication
Software Magazine – presented by IEEE for IEEE members, this magazine offers industry interviews, development tool news and reviews, and peer-reviewed articles for software developers, testers, release engineers, and other professionals involved in software design and engineering
Release It! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software – called a “must-have pragmatic guide” for all involved in the software development and release process, this book reveals effective strategies for avoiding software failures and using the latest technologies and techniques to design, build, and release the best software products possible
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