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Demand for Open Source Skills Continues to Grow

On a scale of one to five, how are your open source skills? If you picked a number below four, you might want to do something about it. According to the Linux Foundation's annual Open Source Jobs Report released on Wednesday, employment prospects for open source workers continues to rise.

Consider this: 86 percent of open source professionals believe that just knowing open source has advanced their careers, with 52 percent saying it would be easy to find another job. If that doesn't wet your whistle -- only 27 percent report not receiving a recruiting call in the past six months.

Open source skills have been in high demand for a number of years, as open source continues to displace proprietary software in both data centers and in development houses. Salaries for those with open source skills tend to be higher as well. Career website Dice's annual salary survey -- a separate survey from this -- indicates that Linux professionals command an annual salary of over $100,000 while other tech professionals take in an average of $92,000.

For the jobs report, the Linux Foundation and Dice partnered and in July surveyed more than 280 hiring managers from corporations, SMBs, government organizations and staffing agencies, the vast majority representing companies headquartered in North America. In addition, more than 1,800 open source professionals were surveyed, 77 percent of whom indicated three or more years spent working in open source.

According to the report, the positions employers are most seeking to fill are developer (73 percent), DevOps engineer (60 percent), and systems administrator (53 percent). The most in-demand skills are open source cloud (47 percent), application development (44 percent), big data (43 percent), DevOps (42 percent) and security (42 percent). Sixty percent of the companies surveyed said they're looking to take people on full time -- up from 53 percent last year -- and 67 percent of managers say the hiring of open source professionals will increase more than other areas of the business in the next six months.

Three major factors are pushing most companies' IT hiring plans, with company growth heading the list at 60 percent. After that, it's more open source specific, with 42 percent citing an increasing use of open source, followed by 30 percent who said that open source is becoming core to their IT needs. Interestingly, only 43 percent of hiring managers say the economy is encouraging them to take on more help, down from 57 percent in 2016. The report opines the later is potentially being caused by "rising global uncertainty."

The migration to the cloud, along with the rise of cloud-based architectures such as containers and microservices -- all areas dominated by open source -- are also a big part of the current tech job market. "Most enterprises are still in transition, making pros with skills in hybrid environments all the more valuable," the report's authors note. "Meanwhile, container technology is growing exponentially, indicating likely future shortages."

Cloud migration is also behind cloud technologies like OpenStack and Cloud Foundry being ranked as the "most sought-after area of expertise" according to 70 percent of the employers surveyed -- a number that's up from 66 percent last year. In second place is web technologies, with 67 percent of hiring managers expressing a need for those skills -- up from 62 percent last year. Demand for Linux skills is also high but has dropped a bit since last year -- from 71 percent down to 65 percent.

The report notes that among hiring managers the technologies most influencing hiring decisions are cloud (62 percent), application platforms (56 percent), and big data (53 percent); and the most in-demand open source skills are cloud/virtualization (60 percent), application development (59 percent), and DevOps (57 percent).

Employers are also increasingly seeking employees with open source certifications. Fifty percent of hiring managers said finding people with certifications is a priority, and an equal number indicated that a certified candidate has a better chance of getting a job than someone without certification -- a number that's up from 44 percent in 2016.

"And there’s been a big jump in companies willing to pay for employees to become certified," the report states. "Nearly half say they’re willing to pay, up from one-third a year ago. Only 21 percent say they definitely would not pay for certifications, down from 30 percent last year."

With data centers increasing their use of open source technologies, it's not surprising that a 77 percent majority of the tech professionals surveyed said the ability to architect solutions based on open source software topped the list of valuable skills. Also important: experience with open source development tools such as GitHub, and knowledge of new tools. The pros also predict that next year, employment opportunities will grow for those with skills in cloud technologies, big data and analytics, containers, and security.

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