Your Boss May Pay for Your Open-Source Certifications

Nearly half of companies (47 percent) are willing to pay for employees’ open-source certifications, according to a new study by Dice and The Linux Foundation.

That’s great news for technology professionals who appreciate having someone else foot the bill for their continuing education. (The study surveyed 280 hiring managers from corporations, small- to medium-sized businesses, government organizations, and staffing agencies, as well as 1,800 open-source professionals.)

Some 86 percent of surveyed professionals said that knowing open-source technology had advanced their career, and 52 percent expressed confidence in easily finding another job. Certifications could certainly help on the latter front: around 50 percent of hiring managers said they were more likely to hire a certified professional.

What skills are those hiring managers on the lookout for? Top of the list was cloud technologies (70 percent of respondents), followed by web technologies (67 percent), Linux (65 percent), networking technologies (48 percent), and security (46 percent).

In this context, assume that Linux is running beneath those cloud and web technologies; for example, it powers both the Amazon and Google public clouds, two of the most popular options out there. Employers cited OpenStack and Cloud Foundry as the most sought-after cloud platforms.

Which certifications offer the best ROI? David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC, recently ran an analysis of 430 skills and discovered that security certifications dominated that particular metric. For example, the market value of the InfoSys Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP) certification has increased 30.8 percent over the past six months. But other, non-security ones have gained, as well; the ITIL Expert Certification, which focuses on service management, has seen a 10 percent rise in its market value over the same period of time.

Whatever certifications you choose to pursue, make sure to keep their worth in context: you also need to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have the skills necessary to do the job. And that doesn’t just mean technical aptitude, although that always helps—if you’re dealing with mission-critical cloud or web platforms, chances are good that you’re part of a team interacting with other teams on a regular basis. Maintaining “soft skills” such as negotiation and leadership is ultimately just as important as knowing how to produce code.

And the next time you’re considering an open-source certification, ask your employer if they’ll foot to bill. There’s a solid chance they’ll say “yes.”

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