George is a long-time Linux professional. He’s a big fan of Red Hat and was happy to share a few of his system admin job search secrets for the benefit of Dice readers.
Now in his mid-fifties, George bought his first real computer in 1988, 5.25-inch floppies and all. Throughout the 1990s, he worked for various Mom and Pop computer stores. He switched to Red Hat 6 in 1998, and has worked for four different Fortune 500 companies and a string of smaller outfits. He currently has the title of Senior Linux Administrator and makes somewhere around $90,000.
George has worked his way up from building i386s and soldering circuit boards to working with EMC storage, VMWare and Red Hat. He’s certainly optimistic about a future with Linux.
One of George’s best pieces of advice for the prospective Linux system admin is to absolutely know your technical topics. You’ll be asked hard questions about such things as Linux email, fiber-channel, logical volume manager and so on. Simply building a system in your basement isn’t enough to get a job, he notes, although it’s a great way to get started from scratch if that’s what you need to do. Today it’s difficult to find good, qualified people, so if you’re good, you’ll get calls from recruiters on a regular basis.
George also recommends that you study and pass the Red Hat exams. They’re tough and prove your knowledge. George spent over $3,000 of his own money to prepare for and take the RH133 exam (the consulting company he worked for wouldn’t pay for it). He was glad he did, because the next job he landed involved Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4 exclusively, at double his old rate. Without the certs, the job would have been out of reach.
In addition, George says that bash, vi, and self-confidence are very important.
Lastly, George believes that if you really want a job, leave Ubuntu, Solaris, HP UX, and AIX at the door. There are positions for Ubuntu, but they’re few and far between. The real positions are SUSE and Red Hat, mostly Red Hat-based.
Being an in-demand senior Linux administrator requires a lot of commitment. The best way to get that well-paying job is to absolutely know the technical material. Get some reputable (tough, comprehensive) certifications, be well versed in bash and vi, then acquire the self-confidence to do the job.
George’s final words of wisdom: “Think, eat and sleep Red Hat”.