Found a Linux Job? Tell Us How You Did It

We’ve stirred up a controversy around the issue of whether Linux system admins have a future or not.

LinuxMy opinion is the long-term opportunities are limited, so only the best will find positions. Others have pointed out that cloud services may reduce the need for systems people as companies move their operations out of their on-site data centers. Most of the U.S. is still struggling with high unemployment, the looming uncertainty of new taxes, ever-increasing gas prices, and as-yet-undetermined regulatory actions. Oddly, San Francisco and Silicon Valley seem to be doing just fine. I’m kind of scratching my head over that.

A few weeks ago, a survey by the Linux Foundation and Dice reported that demand for Linux talent is rising and experienced Linux professionals are being aggressively recruited. Also, system admins, developers, and dev ops folks are rock stars.

Well Gomer, that’s interesting.

Instead of spending your valuable time arguing about who’s right, it might be more constructive to find out what’s behind those survey results. Better yet, maybe we can find out what you should do to benefit from this demand.

So, I’d like to hear from you.

Share your Linux success story with me so I can use it in an upcoming article. Just drop me a note at robreilly@earthlink.net, and we’ll get the conversation started. Regular employees, programmers, developers, consultants, contractors, managers, business owners and executives are all welcome. To break the ice, here are a few things we could talk about:

  • How did you find your most recent Linux job?
  • Is your salary what you expected?
  • What questions were you asked in your interview?
  • How many system admins are at your company, and what level of experience do they have?
  • What were the challenges you faced in finding your job?
  • Any Linux horror stories you’d like to share?
  • What recommendations do you have for people looking for a Linux job?

Now, of course, I have a couple of requests.

  • Don’t tell me anything that you don’t want printed.
  • Provide constructive tips and techniques that other readers can use.
  • Tell me about any unusual situations or quirky people you’ve met during your search, or what got you motivated.

So, there you go. Your opportunity has arrived to share your story, and possibly become semi-famous.

Comments

  1. BY Anestis says:

    Either no-one landed a good linux job or no one wants to share their tips :)

  2. BY Orbital1 says:

    Wow, no one’s commented. I was looking forward to reading some of the comments, experiences, and advice since I’m looking to become a Linux systems admin in the future. Since there’s no comments here to get a feel of what to expect, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, studying and practicing.

  3. BY Jon says:

    I landed my fourth Linux position last year since I started working in Linuxland fulltime in 2005. I specialize in RedHat, but have also needed Suse and Ubuntu in these positions. It can be done, but you need a deep understanding of the subject, not just “well I installed it on a home server”. I started using RedHat in 1998 and stuck with it. I put myself through RedHat RH133 course in 2005, and got my first fulltime Linux job right after that. I have been in the Sys Admin role since the 90′s but I learned even a janitor can get an MCSE if they study for it or buy the answers. There is no faking it under RedHat, you either know it or you don’t. I won’t give a dollar amount for my salary, but I will say with benefits and everything included it is at or over six figures.

    I get calls / emails almost daily on RHEL System Admin positions. There are many positions out there and I would say finding the right candidate is difficult. I helped in the search for Junior Linux candidates at my current company, and I can tell you in all the resumes I looked at, I didn’t see one that I thought was good. So we had to settle, which I didn’t like, but we really didn’t have a choice, we needed the help.

    I am not a college graduate, although I do have enough hours for an Associates degree. I put my focus on learning the RedHat way of doing things and keep learning. I am by no means a master of Linux, but I have many years of experience plus VMWare and storage experience, and that combination has helped me. I am not staying in this position, I will leave to find my next RedHat role somewhere else.

    • BY Nitin Ahire says:

      Hi Jon,
      Your story was very interesting.. I am working as desktop analyst since 3 years and i am doing study on Redhat linux.. i have installed virtual machine on my home pc and doing Lab practice on the same since last 2 years and preparing for RHCSA certification.. Need your help to get job as junior level linux engineer.. its could be great help for me..

      Thank

      • BY Jon says:

        Nitin,

        Your going in the right direction, but as far as help I can only give direction, It sounds like your you have a good plan so far, My first Linux position came after going through RH133 so I would seriously try to complete RHCSA, If you get through that scour the job posts, a very important point is your resume. Don’t embellish, not overly long, I’ve seen some 9 pages long. I don’t want to read through a nine page resume, that might go in the trash. Mine is 2 pages which is more than enough, Keep trying and don’t give up, you could take a part time Linux job and build on it. Just a thought.

  4. BY Anestis says:

    Thanks for the comment Jon, I’m glad you shared your experience.
    I’m a network admin and do mostly Cisco, windows and vmware but I’ve been wanting to jump to the linux side for over 3 years now but have been unable to find the right position. The reason is that as I’m shifting more and more towards networking rather than sys admin I’m finding that I’m using linux more and more and would love to finally having nothing to do with windows servers. They are just very high maintenance. Now about the MCSE, I don’t totally agree as it’s not as simple as you present it BUT there’s just not denying that there is a LOT of microsoft talent out there. This is a simple side effect of the number of the ms shops that exist out there…
    I agree that there’s not as much linux talent and in my experience the reason is that there are not many mid level positions. Most positions are very basic junior level linux sys admins or sr. roles for people that have been using AIX/Unix/Linux for over a decade if not more. I understand that it’s not as simple as installing a home server but you gotta start from somewhere and committing to linux full time when at home in your free time is a good start. Also in my opinion another reason why there aren’t as many linux sys admins is due to usual disconnect between programming and sys admin. With MS you don’t really need any programming skills and even powershell is not that hard to use with basic understanding. With linux apart from very basic stuff you will for sure need some kind of pearl/python/bash skills.

    • BY jon says:

      ANESTIS,

      On what I said about the MCSE. I am saying that the MCSE test can be defeated by anyone who can memorize the answers to the test. Or buy the answers through websites that sell the answers to most current tests, i.e., cheating. Have taken a RedHat exam, and I know that you either know the subject or you don’t. There is very little chance a person could fake their way through a RedHat exam. That is why the RHCSA or RHCE is so important to hold. You have proved your ability to pass a tough exam.

      As far as the home server, yes, you have to start somewhere, and installing it at home and practicing is very important. But if I was hiring someone, I would want to see some knowledge and experience. How do you get your foot in the door for that? For me, it was paying my own way for the RHCT, which is now the RHCSA. I learned a lot and got more confidence to apply for a Linux position. After I left that position, I took what I learned and moved on.

      Yes, there is some scripting involved, but in the positions I have held, that was a minor part. Mainly what I’ve had to do is best practices, and solving issues. Google –not Bing– is your friend. You are part detective, solving problems, looking for answers. Bash is very important, so is Vi, but so is self confidence and knowledge.

  5. BY Rob Reilly says:

    Anestis,

    Good to see you’re back and contributing your great insight into working as an admin. Interesting that you say that you are more of a network guy and integrating Linux into your work. Linux certainly provides the network tools and programming capability, that you’d need to keep all those systems humming along. Keep up the good work. Feel free to invite any of your other network pals to share their tales of working with Linux.

    Also, Jon and I have been carrying on a conversation over the last week about the skills needed to be a Linux admin. He has a lot of great experience and worked his way up to a sweet gig with good money.

    Thanks Jon, for your input.

    Here’s a few other questions I have on my mind.

    How many hours a day are you on Linux?
    During the day, what areas require the most focus?
    What is your biggest challenge, as a Linux (or network) admin?

    Anybody want to comment?

  6. BY Felipe says:

    I have been doing Linux/UNIX (but mostly RedHat) for the past 4/5 years and I believe that the future is still very bright or at least where I’m located. Here in NYC there are many jobs for Linux Admins and Engineers. Well paying as well. I once heard of a former employer paying from 90k for a Jr. Linux Admin and 130k for a Sr. Linux Admin.

    There are many financial firms that simply cannot move to a cloud infrastructure due to security policies of their clients sensitive data. Someone once told me that Linux could end up becoming obsolete like mainframes did. Those mainframe guys probably felt like Gods in their day, but for me Linux is different and will be around for a good while.

    On LinkedIn I am contacted several times a week by recruiters telling me they are looking for a Linux person. I am now on my third Linux role and the market has always been great for me. Salary has always gone up and the recession did not impact me. As someone mentioned above, I too had to interview people for a Linux position and it was just way too hard to find someone out there that was decent. So that could be another reason. Also I am not a hardcore linux guy that knows absolutely everything. I have met a few guys that have been using linux since they were 14 and they just blow me away. Currently I do not know any high level programming languages but will start soon with Python. Have always just done bash shell scripting.

    No matter how much I like Linux, my personal decision is to take the route of management in a few years. As you get older, its hard to compete with the younger generation that comes in and i dont think it would be easy to be a Linux Engineer when I’m 50 years old.

    Anyway I hope this helps to move the discussion along although I am not participating in the real question at hand from Rob Reilly. Just wanted to share a little of my experiences.

    • BY Farooq says:

      Hello Felipe!
      I have completed My PG Diploma in International Business Management and would like to get into Linux software development field. I have no IT background but I have a cousin who is a Linux Software developer and he suggested me to try Linux. I am from Canada and the market here is dry. My question is: is it possible for non-IT person to get into Linux? and If yes, will there be any complication in future? Is the future bright in this field?
      Please reply..!

      Regards
      Farooq

      • BY Felipe says:

        Farooq,

        I really wish I had an answer for you in regards to the Linux software development field. In regards to a non-IT person getting into Linux its really hard to say. Depends on a lot of factors… From personal experience working with these Linux genius’ (for me anyway), most of them did not even have a College Degree but as mentioned they had been using Linux since they were really young. In that time they learned the OS and the kernel, multiple programming languages, they knew about databases, web servers, the TCP/IP stack, etc. So they had a very good overall understanding when they started looking for jobs.

        So there are some basic concepts and knowledge needed to understand Linux I guess. And typically the way to get yourself in the door and learn more Linux will be in a smaller organization. In large corporations your role will be predetermined and you will most likely not have the ability to use technologies outside of your scope, so it will also take longer to grow.

  7. BY Rob Reilly says:

    Felipe,

    Well, what do you know…another Red Hat guy.

    It’s great to hear that you’ve found opportunities with Linux. It’s also nice to note that the recession has not really affected your situation too much. Congratulations. That information should be inspiring to Dice readers.

    Your comment about finding decent talent is right on point. Companies want to hire people who know what they’re doing. Linux System Admins are far enough along technically, that you just can’t be one with a week or two of study or courses. It takes time and hands-on experience to get good enough to hire. That’s why Linux sysadmins typically command good rates. I also think the learning curve is high enough to limit the number who can get in the club. Putting it bluntly, only the committed will be hired.

    Lot’s of good takeaway points in your post.

    Thanks for commenting and keep up the good work.

    Rob Reilly
    Dice Linux and Mobile Development Community Guide

  8. BY Rob Reilly says:

    Here’s an OSCON Webcast about getting back to the old “The Unix Way”. Might be helpful to new Linux users in the philosophical context of keeping things specialized and simple.

    “The Linux Way: Rebuilding The Unix Way for a New Era”
    http://post.oreilly.com/form/oreilly/viewhtml/9z1z5sa7va0lb06qsfbiek8dpv3o16sv6crp0mq9d98?imm_mid=0a9fbc&cmp=em-prog-webcasts-linux-way-20130606-elist

    Rob Reilly
    Dice Linux and Mobile Development Community Guide

  9. BY mihai says:

    Hi guys,

    I am an RHCSA been with the current company for over 5 years doing linux admin work.
    I found the job on craigslist, believe it or not. But I have to concur with the guys above the market in Canada is really bad when it comes to Linux. Mostly due to ITC basically the Indian outsourcing companies are bringing in workers from India by the thousands.

    I survive by pairing my other skills(Perl/Php/Mysql/C/Java/Expect etc) with linux. For example next on my to do list is an oracle cert.
    Let me know what you guys think.
    Cheers,
    Mihai

  10. BY asim says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for this topic. I am an electronics Engineer. But couldn’t find job I had tried 3 internship in different sector. But before I step my self in to university. I was doing web developing my own and created community websites which is still working with traffic coming.I have experience with developing and when I was in university I had c++ and java ++ exams too but now I forgot them in term of developing it. But when I look any c++ or java++ or perl language I can easily point out what is going on in the script in each line.

    Being said that I am also trying to get hold on linux. Currently I am working as technical support in a outsource firm. I have my own vps and currently I am doing things on it which is being required by junior linux responsibilites, firewall, email service, creating account, backup etc. I do have understanding of database and how to restore backup etc.

    What I want to know, should I do Linux certification and if so which one I should do and will be benefit to me the most. I know no one is perfect in linux. But they do practice all the time with the command and all that stuff. Trouble shooting is another big responsibility of linux administrator when server goes down etc. So I just want to know If I have to do linux certificate which one to start with? and will that help me in recruiting like web services + linux administrator?

  11. BY Rob Reilly says:

    Asim,

    Take a look at the earlier comments. Jon has had good success with the Red Hat certifications. He’s also been using Linux for a long time. Sounds like you are on the right track as a junior administrator. Keep working hard and take every opportunity to learn as much as you can.

    Also, you might make a detailed list of your skills and then ask some of the more senior Linux administrators, about gaps in your experience and expertise. Then, of course, work on learning those core skills.

    Maybe a few of the Dice senior Linux administrator readers could list the 5 or 10 core areas and we could have discussions about how to get those skills.

    Rob Reilly
    Dice Linux and Mobile Development Community Guide

  12. BY Red Hat Guru says:

    From my (very simple) personal research, it seems the data support the view that Linux jobs are on the decline. Roughly one year ago (28 August 2012, to be exact), Dice had 1281 Linux jobs in NYC, and 1747 jobs in the Bay Area.

    Today, a search for “linux” will produce roughly *half* these numbers in those respective locations.

    If Linux jobs are not sharply declining, what else could be a plausible explanation for these figures?

    • BY total_loss says:

      Red Hat Guru,

      I really don’t know where all this negitiveity about “Linux” jobs come from. First, are you just searching “Linux” or what criteria are you using? Here is what I found as of today – 7-08-13 on Dice:

      Search results: 1 – 30 of 697 <—Just "redhat"
      Search results: 1 – 30 of 11090 <—-"linux"
      Search results: 1 – 30 of 251 <—-"ubuntu"
      Search results: 1 – 30 of 40 <—–"sles"

      And that doesn't include other job sites, just Dice.

      I have to withdraw my resume from dice and monster for the moment, because I honestly can't keep up with all the calls i get, sometimes a dozen or more a day. I have to ask, what am I doing right that others are doing wrong. I am not bragging, just fact. I can send some of my emails to Rob Reilly to show and confirm how many I get, both calls and emails.

      I may not get every job, but I sure get a lot of calls. They (the jobs) are out there. More than I can keep up with. The problem is they may be in places I don't want to move, like California for instance.

      Linux jobs are not declining, If that were true, I would look for another line of work, because they are out there.

      Jon

      • BY Red Hat Guru says:

        Jon,

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I do not disagree with you – Linux jobs are aplenty as of right now. I, too, have disabled my Dice profile to stop getting those recruiter emails. But that is not the point.

        What I am saying is that it appears that the trend is on the decline. When you search Dice for just “linux” you get ~11k results, which is a lot of jobs. But when you did that search a year ago, it produced roughly twice as many postings.

  13. BY Rob Reilly says:

    Jon and Red Hat Guru,

    What would you say are the top 5 skills needed to be a great Linux sysadmin?

    We’ve had a lot of Dice readers want to rise to your levels of expertise and are looking for specifics on what they should be studying. Naturally, experience comes with doing and novice/intermediate sysadmins need to put in the effort and work to get good.

    Suggestions?

    Rob Reilly
    Dice Linux and Mobile Development Community Guide

  14. BY Jon says:

    Top 5 skills, in order of importance (these are only in my opinion):

    1. RedHat 5/6 administration
    2. VMWare and/or RedHat KVM
    3. BASH and Perl scripting
    4. Network Administration (At least know TCP/IP)
    5. Ability to work under pressure
    6. Know how to search Google
    7. Patience and a dose of ESP

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