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Linux skills in demand, wages up

Senior-level skills most sought-after as companies launch Linux projects

If you work as a Linux developer or system administrator, your pay should be increasing -- and so should your job offers -- according to a new survey of hiring managers.

The survey found that salaries for Linux developers, system administrators and those with related skills increased 5% last year, with bonuses averaging about 15%.

The survey of approximately 2,000 hiring managers and staffing agencies was conducted by The Linux Foundation, an industry group, and Dice, an employment jobs board. The study only looked at Linux and didn't benchmark gains across other platforms.

Dice has about 11,000 jobs posted on its site that require Linux experience to some extent -- an increase of 17% from last year, said Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com.

"It's really hard to find talent in a market that is competitive, and that leads to poaching and new ways to attract talent," Hill said.

The average salary for a Linux professional, across all categories of skills, last year was $86,432, up from $82,575 from the previous year, according to the survey.

Michael Dsupin, the CEO of The Talener Group, a recruiting company that was started five years ago to recruit people with Linux skills, said there is particular demand for senior Linux developers and system administrators. He said the 5% salary increase found in the survey "sounds a little bit low."

Dsupin said companies are seeking senior Linux developers "because they don't have a strong background in [Linux, and] they want to make sure their initial steps are with senior people."

In many cases, companies are doing their first Linux-based projects with the help of a consulting firm, Dsupin said.

Rob Byron, a principal recruiter at the staff firm Winter, Wyman who focuses on system engineering and administration, said people who have Linux and cloud experience have "a very marketable skill set right now."

Byron said the demand for Linux skills is on par with .Net developers and people with business intelligence and data warehousing skills.

There is more competition for developers with Linux skills versus Windows skills primarily because there are many people with Windows skills in the market, said Bryon, echoing a view that was shared by recruiters at ROI Staffing.

At Houston-based ROI, recruiters are seeing a lot of demand for people with Linux skills in the oil and gas and banking industries. During the recession, many projects at these companies were put on hold, but today, the budgets are back.

In hiring, a big factor with a lot of clients is the communications skills of prospective hires, according to Alan Zigelman, a recruiter at the firm. "That's the biggest hurdle," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com .

Read more about linux and unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.


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