Why Linux Jobs Are Burning Up the Tech Market: Q&A with Dice.com's Alice Hill

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The Linux Foundation, in partnership with Dice.com, today released the results of the first-ever Linux Jobs Report. Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin breaks down the significance of those findings in his blog. In this special interview, we talk to Dice Managing Director Alice Hill for her perspective on what is most interesting about the 2012 Linux Jobs Report and the outlook for Linux professionals.

What do you think is the most important finding from the 2012 Linux Jobs Report? Why?

Hill: Linux is firmly at the core of software development and system administration and still growing. What the survey respondents tell us about Linux as a priority for 2012 echoes recruitment posting activity on Dice. We have seen demand in areas like mobile and cloud take off, but Linux-related jobs are a consistent leader. In fact, Linux job postings on Dice.com are up 17 percent year/year and is one of the top 10 most requested skills.

What surprised you about the results? Why?

Hill: It’s not a surprise to us that Linux talent is in demand, but what is surprising is the fact that 85 percent of companies report having difficulty finding qualified Linux professionals. That’s substantial. Linux is a core skill and employers understand this. Now tech professionals need to recognize the opportunity and join this community.

Dice works closely with recruiters and hiring managers. What are you hearing about demand or points of pain for Linux talent?

Hill: Hiring managers tell us they’re looking for Linux talent who can not only build and update complex systems, but also contribute to the success of the tech department and the company overall.

We advise hiring managers to watch for shortages in certain high demand areas like Linux and to work hard on retention. Aside from salary, offering the option to telecommute or to take on new and challenging projects have been powerful retention tools and work to ward off poaching.

Looking beyond 2012, what would you predict the Linux jobs market will look like?

Hill: At Dice.com we don't really predict specific job markets, but we do study our data, which is a leading indicator of growth and movement in certain skills and tech metro areas. Linux talent is not only in demand in 46 states, but as we saw in our salary survey, these professionals are also commanding salary increases after two years of flat salaries overall. Linux garners an average annual salary of more than $86,000, above the national average of $81,000.

Software programming and development skills have been getting a lot of attention nationally. What kinds of things can employers and universities do to encourage more men and women pursue this line of work?

Hill: I think we've seen that tech in general, and programming and development specifically, has been where demand is. Even in an uncertain economy, tech unemployment rates fall well below the national average. With a shortage of computer science grads, as evidenced by a report Dice did last May, this only fuels the demand for more skilled entry-level developers. Shortages put pressure on tech wages, and some colleges and universities are creating exciting new programs to get students accredited sooner and into the workforce faster to capitalize on these higher salaries. It's a great time to be in this field.

Thank you to Alice for taking the time to give us her insights. Please feel free to download the full 2012 Linux Jobs Report .