Linux System Administrator Career Outlook
Be nimble. In a nutshell, that is what it is going to take to garner success in your career as a Linux system administrator. Technological advancements come and go. That is nothing new. It just happens at an ever increasing rate. That has probably, more often than not, been the case for the average system administrator throughout time, but the breadth of skills that you need to possess is the essential ingredient.
Companies are constantly trying to do more with less. That is no different when it comes to managing a technology infrastructure. Automation of tasks has allowed them to constantly expand their networks without necessarily increasing their headcount in equal proportion. Therefore, even though you find yourself in a growing area of the overall employment sector, your job and the skill set you need to complete it are ever changing.
As time has progressed, administrators are being asked to do more programming than in the past. This is at the heart of the automation phenomenon. To put control in the hands of the system per se, taking it out of the human hands, is the preferred methodology when constructing and maintaining an ever growing infrastructure in today's day in age. Thus, make sure that you have put yourself in a position to gain the necessary knowledge to perform such a task. Gone are the days of being the person that is content in doing the mundane daily maintenance of the network. That job no longer exists.
Keeping the breadth focus intact, there continues to be signs that the heterogeneous environment is here to stay. By now, everyone is well aware of the growth of the Linux server market over the years. And Microsoft server market share has continued to climb as well during this time. This has all come at Unix's expense.
Being that we have focused solely on Linux and open source for over nine years, I am well aware that even the mention of the Redmond folks name is not a popular route to take. Unfortunately, we must deal with reality. The environments that were built primarily with the use of open source software have stayed that way. However, with Linux's momentum into the large corporate environment, this where we see positions for Linux administrator's also including any Windows knowledge as a plus. The focus for this individual still primarily lies on the Linux side of things, but it sure does not hurt to at least familiarize yourself with the Windows world a little. Once again, flexibility reigns supreme.
Outside of the technical arena, the growth of the Linux server market has presented many opportunities. Gone are the days of being perhaps a little pigeon-holed when determining which companies you might be able to work for. Companies of all different sectors of the economy have recognized the open source phenomenon, and thus choice is a great benefit that you now have. Whether it is a small manufacturing company that you prefer, or a large biotechnology firm that you have your heart set on, more than likely they have Linux as part of their infrastructure. Therefore, they will ultimately need people with your skill set. A network is a network to a certain degree, but to be able to follow a passion that you have outside of your day-to-day work requirements is a tremendous bonus.
Along the same lines as the flexibility of corporate sector within which you work, you also will enjoy the lack of location necessity. Since companies in many different industries and size are adopting Linux, that means that corporations throughout the country have opportunities that might fit your skills. Therefore, if you find yourself in a non-technology centric part of the country, you still may find the position you are looking for. In addition, with many companies locating their network across multiple sites, this also encourages less of a need for you to be at the corporate location on a daily basis. There continues to be an increase in the ability of an administrator to work out of a home office, and more and more corporations are allowing for such a work arrangement.
Lastly, as Linux has gained steam, its importance in the network infrastructure has increased. Much like that of the career outlook for the Linux developer, the Linux administrator will reap the benefits of increased layers of management surrounded solely by Linux and open source software. This allows you to grow at your current place of employment with additional responsibilities without taking on a pure management role. A company may start off with one Linux administrator as they introduce it into the corporate infrastructure. As they continue to add more and more Linux servers to the network, the need exists to hire more administrators as needed. Ultimately, the formation of an administrator hierarchy will result with a Lead administrator directing the others. Therefore, if you are hired on as an administrator, there is the opportunity to grow into that lead role, with the ability to still get your ‚Äúhands dirty‚Äù on a daily basis if that is what you desire.
As time progresses, so has the role of the Linux administrator. As I have stated before in this article, flexibility and opportunity reign supreme. As an administrator, you will continue to don more and more hats as the complexity of the network continually evolves. Make sure that you are always up-to-date with what that complexity consists of, so that you are positioned correctly to take the next step in your career. Opportunities are plentiful with the advancements of open source software, therefore you should be able to direct your career in a direction that brings about the most satisfaction for you. Just do not fall asleep at the wheel and get too content in your current role. With the continuing evolution of Linux and open source software, the need for you to stay active is a must.