​Companies really want Linux-savvy employees and they want them now

But 88 percent of hiring managers report that it's "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to find qualified candidates.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Do you want a job in IT that you can count on in years to come? Then start polishing up your Linux skills.

According to the Linux Foundation and tech job company Dice, in the 2015 Linux Jobs Report, "Nearly all hiring managers are looking to recruit Linux professionals." While programmers and Linux system administrators are in high demand, your chances of landing a great job are greater if you have cloud, security, and/or software defined networking (SDN) skills.

In particular, "42 percent of hiring managers say experience with or knowledge of OpenStack and CloudStack are having a big impact on their Linux hiring decisions" while "49 percent of Linux professionals believe open cloud will be the biggest growth area for Linux in 2015."

Container technologies, such as Docker, get a lot of ink but aren't as important for finding a job. Only five percent of hiring managers say that container knowledge has made a difference in their hiring decisions. 19 percent of Linux professionals see containers as the top growth area.

Hiring managers are looking for developers and network administrators who know their way around SDN. Specifically, "19 percent are looking for Linux talent with SDN skills."

Security, thanks to old, recently uncovered bugs such as Heartbleed and FREAK, has become a hot job area. "Twenty-three percent of hiring managers say security experience has an impact on hiring decisions, as companies look for skilled support of open source security projects."

"Competition for Linux talent is accelerating, as the software becomes more ubiquitous," said Shravan Goli, Dice's President in a statement. "Hiring managers need to ensure they are offering the right set of incentives to attract talent, while professionals need to provide evidence of their knowledge and skills, especially in areas of growing demand such as the cloud."

It's not just any talent. "44 percent of hiring managers saying they're more likely to hire a candidate with Linux certification, and 54 percent expect either certification or formal training of their SysAdmin candidates." Because 66 percent of hiring managers are looking for system administrators, Linux professionals with certifications will be the most in-demand talent in this year's job market.

The most popular Linux certifications with job recruiters, based on a study of job boards by Ed Tittel on Tom's IT Pro, are the high-level Red Hat certifications. These certifications, such as the Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), and Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) are easily the most in-demand certifications. These are followed by the lower-end CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI exams.

As Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation's executive director, said in a statement, "Formal training and certifications are a key way of identifying qualified talent, and as more people join the Linux community, it will be increasingly necessary for professionals to show they stand out in the crowd."

With or without certifications, hiring managers are struggling to find Linux professionals. 88 percent report that it's "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to find qualified candidates. Fortunately for those with Linux skills, 70 percent of hiring managers say "their companies have increased incentives to retain Linux talent, with 37 percent offering more flexible work hours and telecommuting, and 36 percent increasing salaries for Linux pros more than in other parts of the company."

This isn't just human resources blowing smoke. Both SUSE and Dell contacted me after the Linux Job Report was out to say they were looking for more Linux staffers. From everything I can tell, Linux is today's hottest tech job field.

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