Q&A: Why Linux Experts Are In Demand


interview of Mr.Jim Zemlin, Executive Director at The Linux Foundation, his take on the Linux Jobs Report recently compiled by the Foundation and Dice.

Can you provide some details on what’s driving the need for Linux expertise?

Jim Zemlin  
Jim Zemlin

Linux is experiencing major growth across industries. In consumer electronics, it’s used to run TVs, Android phones and tablets, your washer, dryer and refrigerator. Even your crock pot. In the enterprise, Linux is the foundation for cloud computing and is powering data centers that run Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and more. It’s also helping to address the world’s most complex and interesting problems, from work on the human genome to the CERN supercollider.

As a result, companies need developers and SysAdmins who know how to build and/or manage Linux systems. There’s hardly any technology job today that doesn’t touch Linux in some way.

What kind of Linux skills are in the most demand?

The Linux Jobs Report shows that the areas of expertise that hiring managers are most aggressively seeking include systems administration (58 percent), Linux application development (45 percent) and systems architecture/engineering (45 percent). This definitely echoes what we hear from members. As cloud computing and Big Data continue to put new pressures on the enterprise, companies need experienced or certified Linux pros who can manage these systems intelligently and be a strategist in their companies as much as day-to-day operator.

What’s the sweet spot in terms of experience?

LinuxThe report shows hiring managers are mostly looking for professionals with three to five years of experience. We think that’s accurate. We also think college graduates are another sweet spot if those graduates have proactively sought training opportunities. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are one example — easily accessible and free. When employers see that initiative, they know the candidate would be a good fit for working on Linux. That’s not to exclude mid- to senior-level Linux pros, though. The report shows there is still demand for people at that level who bring deep expertise to their jobs.

Are companies willing to train candidates when they can’t find the precise skill set they’re looking for?

About one-third of hiring managers surveyed for the Linux Jobs Report said they would seek Linux training for existing talent if they could not find the skill set externally. There is an opportunity here for professionals already in their current jobs. Employers are willing to pay for training, and employees can take advantage of this.

If tech professionals want to learn Linux, where can they go?

There are a variety of Linux learning opportunities, from technical, professional training like what we offer at Linux Foundation to events, free webinars and MOOCs, as I mentioned before. Also, with Linux, professionals can get involved and start contributing to the community any time, which is a training in and of itself.

What makes a candidate attractive? Does it go beyond Linux skills alone?

Passion for technology; desire to work on something bigger than any one company; wicked smart; collaborative; and likes to have a lot of fun.

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