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Survey: Bosses are DESPERATE and GAGGING for Linux skills

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Demand for IT professionals with Linux skills is stronger than ever, but a new worldwide survey of more than 850 hiring managers and 2,600 Linux professionals indicates that companies are having a hard time finding qualified hires.

Among the findings of the survey, which was conducted by careers website Dice and the Linux Foundation, 93 per cent of hiring managers said they were planning to take on new Linux talent within the next six months – a 3 per cent increase over 2012's numbers.

The trend shows no sign of slowing down, either. Among the same group, 85 per cent said that in the next six months they planned to hire the same number of Linux pros – or more – as they hired during the previous six months.

Just what's driving all this demand is a bit murky, but the top three reasons given by survey participants were company growth, overall increased use of Linux, and the migration of existing systems from legacy platforms to Linux.

Linux systems administrators were in highest demand among hiring managers, with 73 per cent claiming they needed more. Developers were wanted by 57 per cent of respondents, and coming in third at 25 per cent were DevOps pros, a category that was only added to the survey this year and which refers to professionals who blend coding and admin skill sets.

Companies are willing to pay for Linux skills, too. The report found that the average salary for Linux professionals was $90,853 (£58,654). That's 6.2 per cent higher than the $85,619 (£55,274) average for tech professionals generally – and salaries for Linux-related jobs are climbing faster than those of other tech jobs, too.

All good news for prospective job seekers with Linux skills, but high demand means companies don't have it easy. Among those surveyed, 90 per cent responded that they felt it was "somewhat difficult" or "very difficult" to find experienced Linux pros.

The bar for "experienced" was actually fairly low, with 73 per cent of respondents looking for people with three to five years of Linux background, although some wanted six to nine years of experience.

Such intense demand for Linux skills doesn't seem lost on those with the requisite know-how. Of the Linux professionals surveyed, 56 per cent said they thought it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" to switch jobs, and 35 per cent said they actually planned to do so in the coming year, compared to 20 per cent for US employees generally.

Little wonder, considering that 75 per cent of Linux pros said they had received at least one call from a recruiter in the past six months.

On the other hand, studies such as these are always grist for the mill of the ongoing US immigration debate, with many tech companies insisting that the only way to slake their thirst for qualified job applicants will be to open the country's borders to more foreign workers.

A bipartisan Senate bill proposed in January would raise the totally number of immigration visas offered to advanced graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math from 65,000 to 115,000 per year, and possibly to as many as 300,000 per year. Meanwhile, a second Senate bill floated on Wednesday, dubbed the "Startup Act 3.0", would create additional visas for foreign entrepreneurs.

Linux professionals might therefore be wise to start searching for their ideal gig sooner rather than later, since companies and politicians seem determined to swing the balance of power in the tech workforce back over to employers – one way or the other. ®

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