Linux and open-source jobs are hotter than ever

So, you want a great job in technology? The Linux Foundation and Edx HR survey shows your best move will be to polish up your Linux and open-source skills.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The Linux Foundation and edX, the leading online course company, released the 2020 Open Source Jobs Report on October 26. Once again, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for open-source technology skills is growing. 37% of hiring managers say they will hire more IT professionals in the next six months. 

Specifically, 81% of hiring managers say hiring open source talent is a priority going forward. 56% of hiring managers plan to increase their hiring of open source pros in the next six months 

Why? The answer to that is simple. As a recent Red Hat survey found, 86% of IT leaders said the most innovative companies are using open-source software, citing higher quality solutions, lower cost of ownership, improved security, and cloud-native capabilities as the top reasons for usage. So, even in these bad times, the demand for open-source savvy is higher than ever. 

How high? 93% of hiring managers reported that they're having trouble finding employees who know open-source programs. Indeed, 63% say their organizations supported open-source projects with code or other resources just so they can recruit people with those software skills. In 2018, only 48% did this. 

This isn't just companies that are new to open source trying to look good to knowledgeable potential open-source employees. SUSE, which has been a top Linux distributor for almost 30 years uses it. SUSE Global Human Resources Director, Marie Louise van Deutekom, said, "SUSE looks at contributions as part of our recruitment strategy. It's great to see how much people really do contribute to these communities over time."

Why? Because to be successful in an open-source organization, van Deutekom said, you need to be reliable, trustworthy, and accessible in order to be successful. Credibility is extremely important for SUSE. We thrive on transparency and use this strategy when operating with our customers and partners.

"Additionally," van Deutekom continued, "it's important to think of yourself as a continuous learner and show your willingness to learn. One of the findings from this year's report was that 47 percent of employers are willing to pay for professional certifications, up from 33 percent in 2016. Take advantage of these opportunities to build out your skillset and refine your expertise."

 Other key findings from the 2020 Open Source Jobs Report include:

  • DevOps' rise: DevOps pros have risen to the most sought after job role, with 65% of companies looking to hire more DevOps talent, up from 59% in 2018

  • Hiring is down, but not out, due to COVID-19: Despite the pandemic and economic slowdown, 37% of hiring managers say they will hire more IT professionals soon.

  • Online training gained popularity during the COVID-19 era: A full 80% of employers now report that they provide online training courses for employees to learn open-source software, up from 66% two years ago. 

  • Certifications grow in importance: 52% of hiring managers are more likely to hire someone with a certification, up from 47% two years ago. They're willing to pay money for certifications as well. 74% of employers are now offering to pay for employee certifications, up from 55% in 2018, 47% in 2017, and only 34% in 2016.

  • Cloud technology is hot: In terms of knowledge domains, hiring managers report knowledge of open cloud technologies has the most significant impact, with 70% being more likely to hire a pro with these skills, up from 66% in 2018. 

DevOps has become the top job hiring managers are looking to fill. 65% are looking to hire DevOps talent. This pushes the demand for developers to second (59%) for the first time in this report's history. Engineers remain the third most in-demand role, at 56%, followed by architects at 41%. SysAdmins saw a massive drop, from 49% in 2018 to 35% today. This is probably because sysadmins are moving from their traditional server-oriented jobs to the broader DevOps canvas. 

When it comes to specific skills, hiring managers want people who know open cloud technologies. 70% are likely to hire a pro with these skills, up from 66% in 2018. Linux is close behind at 69%. Security is the third-highest priority knowledge area, sought by 48% of hiring managers. If you're a master of all three, you can write your own job description. 

"2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, but it's encouraging to see that open source continues to provide abundant opportunities," said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. "The Linux Foundation and our members will continue to work to provide technological advancements that benefit everyone while striving to make open-source educational opportunities more accessible."

Indeed during this last year, the Linux Foundation has launched many new Linux and open-source classes. This includes a Cloud Engineer Bootcamp,  a new entry-level IT certification, and an Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp. 2020 also saw the one-millionth student for the Foundation's free introduction to Linux class.

The report is based on data from more than 175 hiring managers at corporations, small and medium businesses (SMBs), government organizations, and staffing agencies across the globe. It also was based on responses from over 900 open-source professionals.

While I wasn't surveyed, I spent my life covering Linux and open-source software. Even in these hard times, many companies want and need people who know their way around Linux and other open-source programs. Maybe you can't get a job in these fields today, as businesses struggle to get back up to speed, but you soon will be able to get one. The need is there, the jobs will follow.

For more, you can download the full 2020 Open Source Jobs Report

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