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Linux pros saw a giant salary leap in 2012: Dice

IT professionals enjoyed their biggest salary jump in more than a decade last year, but for those using Linux, it was even better.

It's been clear for some time now not only that IT professionals face better-than-average prospects in today's tough marketplace for jobs, but also that those with Linux skills tend to fare even better.

I wrote about several pieces of encouraging data that came out last fall, but on Tuesday a fresh report emerged that paints an even rosier outlook.

Following up on its January 2012 study that found tech salaries had finally started to climb again, IT careers site Dice today published an annual update showing not just a continuing trend in that respect, but also a huge boost for those in the Linux field.

'No one wants to lose talent'

"Technology salaries in the U.S. saw the biggest jump in more than a decade," begins Dice's announcement of its 2013-2012 Salary Survey, which was administered online to more than 15,000 employed technology professionals last fall.

That, however, is just the beginning of the good news it reports.

First, average annual wages for tech professionals in general jumped by more than five percent in the past year, increasing to $85,619 from $81,327 in 2011, the company found.

A full 64 percent of tech professionals said they are confident they could find a favorable new position in 2013, moreover, while employers are offering incentives including also more interesting or challenging assignments and the ability to telecommute.

"In the early stages of the recovery, companies were staying flexible by using performance pay to reward their top performers," explained Scot Melland, chairman, president, and CEO of Dice Holdings. "Now, companies are writing the checks that will stick. With a 3.8 percent tech unemployment rate, no one wants to lose talent."

Tech professionals with two years of experience or less earned their first year-over-year increase in three years, in fact, jumping 8 percent to $46,315, while those with at least 15 years of experience topped six figures for the first time, growing 4 percent year over year to $103,012.

'More Linux, more money'

For Linux professionals, however, the news was even better.

Rather than a 5 percent increase in average salaries over the past year, those among professionals who regularly use Linux leaped a full 9 percent to $90,853.

Linux-using professionals also saw a 2 percent increase in the number who received bonuses last year. In addition, their bonuses--which amounted to $9,224, on average--were considerably bigger than the average $8,636 received by IT professionals in general.

"For the last few years, we've seen paychecks for Linux professionals grow faster than what we see for tech professionals overall," Dice.com VP Jennifer Bewley told me. "That's true of both salaries and bonuses.

"We've known Linux is a core skill, but it's starting to get a bankable reputation," she added. "More Linux, more money."

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