back to article Linux talent shortage drives up salaries

It pays to be a Linux expert, and if you have any needs that are not being met by your employer and you have Linux skills, now might be a good time to start making some demands. The Linux Foundation, the non-profit consortium that fosters the expansion of Linux and which gives Linus Torvalds his paycheck, tag-teamed with Dice …

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  1. dirk_diggler
    Linux

    Where?!

    I know lots of Linux sysadmins (including myself) and we're paid even less than some developers. (£30-35k).

    Please show me the rabid demand for Linux skills.

    1. Vic

      I keep saying this...

      > Please show me the rabid demand for Linux skills.

      There *is* a strong demand. I keep meeting companies who spend far too much time searching for *nix-skilled people.

      I also meet lots of good techies who can't find said companies.

      So what's the deal? Why can't these two groups of people find each other?

      Employment Agencies. The reptiles that are entirely incapable of matching skill to requirements - yet corprat HR departments *still* insist on using them exclusively for finding candidates...

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: I keep saying this...

        There's more than one set of skilled people that would agree with you entirely

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where?!

      Not in the UK.

      You forget - judging by the salary sign you attached to your numbers, you live in the country where the prime minister does not find anything abnormal to front his election campaign with a Billigatus appearance. While Prime Ministers change, the infrastructure, salary structure to match it and hiring structure to feed both of these stays.

      Additionally, the IT salaries are generally depressed compared to the rest of the world. You can get higher starting Unix/Linux IT Sysadmin salaries in some places around Eastern Europe nowdays (browse for Linux jobs in Brno or Sofia for example). This is a nice present from same government that used to front its election campaigns with a Billigatus appearance. IR35 and other legislation requested by Crapita and the other corporate sponsors of the previous government went a very long way to depress the average technical specialist salary and increase the amount which ends up in the "agency" coffers.

      The current lot made lots of noises about fixing that. Unfortunately all of that remained exactly that - noise and nothing else.

    3. boltar Silver badge
      WTF?

      @dirk_diggler

      "know lots of Linux sysadmins (including myself) and we're paid even less than some developers. (£30-35k)."

      You talk as if thats surprising. No offence, but having done both jobs I can safetly say that system administration is a walk in the park compared to hard core development.

      1. dirk_diggler
        Mushroom

        Re: @dirk_diggler

        No offence taken, but I disagree. You say you have done both jobs, but to me a sysadmin *is* both jobs. Unless your definition of a sysadmin is pretty narrow compared to my experience.

        1. boltar Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Re: @dirk_diggler

          So as a sys admin you've developed 50,000 line distributed C++ trading applications have you? Give me a friggin break. I'm talking serious development, not just writing 20 line noddy perl scripts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re: Re: @dirk_diggler

            And you personally designed and programmed the entire system did you? Because if you did then were not a lowly programmer.

            When you were a Systems Admin what was you administering?

            1. boltar Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: Re: Re: Re: @dirk_diggler

              "And you personally designed and programmed the entire system did you? "

              I designed and wrote the network transport side and probably wrote about 25% of the code. Sorry, does that not compare with writing an ickle wickle bash script to tidy up a directory or whatever other mickey mouse "development" your average sys admin gets up to?

              "Because if you did then were not a lowly programmer."

              Programming is programming whatever fancy name its given.

              "When you were a Systems Admin what was you administering?"

              Well aside from administrering my own linux boxes at home and work I've also administered an HP-UX server and various oracle databases (I forgot to mention, DBA work isn't exactly taxing to the brain either).

              You can't paint sys admin as some great intellectual task if it strokes your ego - but it ain't. Its called "administration" for a reason.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @dirk_diggler

                I've done both lines of work, your argument only holds water if you assume that all a systems administrator does is prod machines, mind the backups and write small scripts.

                Perhaps that's the case in large companies with a silo model where it takes 5 people from different teams to install one server - but as soon as you step into a proper job you quickly find out that "*nix system administration" is shorthand for "anything and everything that isn't Windows or that we don't understand". That job takes a lot of skill, good judgement, a wide variety of technical skills which touch nearly every area of IT. Sometimes it takes balls of steel too. Good sysadmin are the ones who can and will fix something they have never worked with before, when it goes bang in the middle of the night, and the staff who created it left the company years ago.

                I'm happy that you know C++. So do I.

                On the salary thing, I've noticed some good salary offers via cwjobs, I disagree with their average though, because I know more people in this line of work being paid less than that, than above it. Myself included. Many are on far, far less.

                1. boltar Silver badge

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @dirk_diggler

                  "That job takes a lot of skill, good judgement, a wide variety of technical skills which touch nearly every area of IT. Sometimes it takes balls of steel too."

                  If you say so Rambo.

                  "Good sysadmin are the ones who can and will fix something they have never worked with before, when it goes bang in the middle of the night, and the staff who created it left the company years ago."

                  Well I don't know what companies you've worked for but the large places I've worked have had devs on 1st , 2nd and 3rd line callout. I'm sure they could have let the Joe admin go into source control, work out, update, and check back in some highly complex code they've never seen before, possibly in a language they don't know, within the response time allowed but I guess they just didn't fancy complete chaos. With small companies , sure , you can end up doing everything but you're always dev first , admin second.

      2. toadwarrior
        Trollface

        Re: @dirk_diggler

        Given how many down votes you have it's clear sys admins have more time to sit around surfing the internet.

    4. toadwarrior

      Re: Where?!

      Where do you live in the UK? Not that it matters too much seeing how there are developer roles even in London for less than that. I've even seen some entry level positions at £18k to £22k for Java developers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FOSS

    Free Oppressed Software Skills

    Sorry mate, it's Free - you get nothing. We're giving this stuff away. You believe in Free don't you... that's why you work for nothing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOSS

      Best laugh I've had all day! Oh me sides are splittin'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOSS

      Actually, if you read the article I think you will find it says that those of us who do FOSS work for *more* than those who do not "believe in Free" as you put it.

      Of course, I did take note of who has sponsored this "research" but nevertheless.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: FOSS

      And there I was thinking FOSS stood for 'Go forth and multiply, unintelligent lump of faecal matter'.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm...

    One of the things that I saw in my last job at a large UK bank was that Linux admins could make a fair packet in the UNIX team, but only really made it anywhere if they weren't the sort of stereotypical Linux guy who sits around all day telling everyone that they should get rid of X,Y,Z because Linux is the only way. For a large salary, you are expected to behave in a certain way, regardless of how desperate a company is, practically the first thing that I was told starting at the company was that the days of the growling genius in the corner are well and truly over.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm...

      Tar us all with the same brush not, please.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Hmm...

        I wasn't intending to tar with the same brush, but I was more getting at the fact that there are a lot of people who defend their own area of expertise by slagging off other systems, rather than learning about the others and that this mindset is particularly prevalent in Linux/Windows flamewars. You just have to look at some of the comments on a site like The Reg, which is supposedly for IT Pros, where people make comments about the relative merits of Lin/Win which are plainly wrong or based on experience of a system many years ago. I used to be the Windows server admin guy who slagged off Linux, but I saw that Linux was going to be important and that I'd better knuckle down and learn it, that was about ten years ago. I am now expert in Win/Lin/UNIX and the better for it, but it makes me cringe to see some of the things people say when trying to defend their ring-fenced knowledge, rather than learning more about different systems.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm...

      Very true, although going by the downvotes there are plenty of Linux folks who don't want to believe it. IT, even with Linux, is mainstream corporate functionality now, just like phones, aircon, and plumbing. The days when people didn't dare touch the computer, and had to wait for the "expert" to fix it, are long gone. If companies want Linux expertise its just because the application systems they've purchased require a Linux-experienced admin. They aren't looking for geeks, nerds, Stallman-fanbois or hackers, just solid corporate citizens who can keep the lights blinking no matter whether it's Windows, IBM, or RedHat. Time to buy a tie, geeks.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Devil

        Just keep on trolling.

        > going by the downvotes there are plenty of Linux folks who don't want to believe it

        Or maybe they just want to tell you you are writing senseless drivel meant to enrage. t's hard to tell by counting a number of binary flags.

        > solid corporate citizens who can keep the lights blinking no matter whether it's Windows, IBM, or RedHat

        Plus putting up with permanent "reorganizations" of the IT department. Still, I hope you are not suggesting doing all of the above at once lest your company trade secrets show up on some pastebin.

    3. Jim 59

      This is Unix, I know this

      Are you sure you were working at a bank ? Or were you just at home watching Jurassic Park ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We were talking about skills

    There are bullshitters in every area.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux Salary Increases?

    I'd rather spend me dosh on a good *BSD admin any day ;P

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Money, money, money

    > they were doing all kinds of things to try to retain and attract Linux talent

    All kinds of things ... except paying enough to attract recruits, it seems.

    If you really, REALLY want to fill a Linux position, simply offer a salary that will attract applicants. Not getting any applicants? then your headline salary is too low. Getting applicants who are crap? Then your recruitment agency needs a kick for not screening properly. Getting applicants who turn down your offers? Then look inside at your company - the work, the conditions and (most important) whether the boss is an idiot.

    The problem is that in a lot of large organisations: multinationals, government departments, utilities and the like, all regard IT workers as the same. I've seen instances where the HR people and the IT senior managers were seriously saying "but they're all support staff, why not just get the Windows team to do it?" With no understanding - or even awareness - that the skills are different. When you start with that level of ignorance, it's no surprise that the so-called "perks" listed in the article fail to attract.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Money, money, money

      That's the idea.

      It is also difficult to compete against point-and-click sysadmins with no mental image what actually happens when they change setting X in window Z and who keel over once SHTF. Because it rarely does nowadays.

      Maybe a ... "tax-free" consultancy job would be best.

    2. Hayden Clark Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Money, money, money

      Outsource bait. They publish the ad with a low salary, get no takers, declare a "skills shortage" then hire a nice cheap bunch of Indians (over there or shipped over here) to do the work.

      It's how our broken import controls and employment law has distorted the labour market, by setting market salary levels at those you find in other countries.

  7. Christian Berger

    It's probably just a coincidence

    The workstation market has moved to comparatively cheap Linux boxes. And to do work efficiently you need some unixoid workstation. They are just so much simpler to programme for simple tasks like running an optimisation on an design. Or using a soundcard to measure the relative phase of 2 signals. Of course this can be done with home computers, too, but usually you need expensive extra software for it, or write everything from scratch.

    Unixoid workstations just give you a great base to start with. And that shows in efficiency.

  8. Tigger in Amsterdam
    Thumb Down

    @Vic - well said!

    "Employment Agencies. The reptiles that are entirely incapable of matching skill to requirements - yet corprat HR departments *still* insist on using them exclusively for finding candidates..."

    Yep, the entire IT industry problem summed up in one neat little nutshell. I'm still getting phone calls from the useless eejits every week quoting an email address I haven't used for 6 years 'cos the CV they're using (invariably purchased cheap from some scamming outfit that realises there's cash to be made from these fools) is also 6 years out of date - but do they realise that until I point it out? No, of course not.

    First up against the wall come my personal revolution, along with the Human Remains prats that insist on using them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @Vic - well said!

      @Tigger - I'll see your 6 years and raise you 12.

  9. boltar Silver badge

    Linux skills are just unix skills

    Repackaged for the 21st century. Nothing to see here, move along please...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    :(

    My employer totally misread that chart and just ordered me a pair of flexible work shackles :( Thanks a lot, Reg...

  11. fridelain
    Headmaster

    My eyes

    >Flexible work schecules[sic]

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feh.

    "Skills shortage" = not enough under-30s and over-25s who are experienced enough to be useful, not old enough to be expensive, still childless and will happily do unpaid overtime because they still enjoy this shit.

    There will always be a skills shortage.

    And anyway... is this a meaningful survey or one of those stupid ones where they feed a load of job adverts into a mindless algorithm that computes the mean advertised salary for job ads that mention "office" somewhere in there, beit "basic microsoft office skills required" or "nice office in arse-breakingly trendy area of east London"???

    I mean, WTF *is* a "Linux position" anyway? Kernel developer? Sysadmin?

  13. J.G.Harston Silver badge
    FAIL

    What are managers doing to retain people

    I notice that "actually employ people who apply for the jobs" is not on the list.

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