What Motivates Open-Source Professionals?

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What motivates developers to pursue open source as a career?

It’s not the money.

According to the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report, created through a partnership between Dice and the Linux Foundation, only 2 percent of open-source tech pros think their salaries and perks are the best part of the job. (Some 4,500 people responded to the survey that provided the data for the report.)

Contrast that with 31 percent of respondents who said they most appreciated the interesting projects they worked on, or the 18 percent who said they most liked interacting with cutting-edge technologies. Another 17 percent said that working with a global community was the best part of their career.

And which technologies do those open-source pros regard as the most vital? Some 50 percent of survey respondents said cloud technologies such as OpenStack; another 19 percent said containers (including Docker), while 16 percent indicated security software. Some 9 percent cited networking tech, and 5 said “Other.”

Even if compensation isn’t a prime motivator for many of these professionals, employers are relying on money and perks to draw skilled techies in, with 79 percent of hiring managers saying that their respective companies have increased incentives to retain employees. Another 44 percent indicated that they’ve raised salaries specifically for open-source talent, while 43 percent opted to offer more telecommuting and flexible hours.

And many of those methods may work. While cash might not be a primary motivator for many, 31 percent of open-source pros said they would jump jobs for a higher salary, while 19 percent said they would do so for better work-life balance. It’s one thing to work on interesting projects, but professionals want to get paid, too.

Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock.com

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