Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career: An Introduction to Essential Skills
As the technology industry evolves, today’s system administrators need command of an ever-expanding array of technical skills. However, many experts agree that skills like effective communication and collaboration are just as important. With that in mind, in this series we are highlighting essential skills for sysadmins to stay competitive in the job market. Over the next several weeks, we will delve into important technical requirements as well as non-technical skills that hiring managers see as crucial.
Linux.com has published several lists highlighting important skills for sysadmins. These lists correctly balance generalized skills like problem solving and collaboration with technical skills such as experience with security tools and network administration.
Today, sysadmins also need command of configuration management tools such as Puppet, cloud computing platforms such as OpenStack, and, in some cases, emerging data center administration platforms such as Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System. Facility with open source tools is also a key differentiator for many sysadmins.
As Dice data scientist Yuri Bykov has noted, “Like many other tech positions, the role of the system administrator has evolved significantly over time due, in large part, to the shift from on-premise data centers to more cloud-based infrastructure and open source technologies. While some of the core responsibilities of a system administrator have not changed, the expectations and needs from employers have.”
Additionally, “as businesses have begun relying more upon open source solutions to support their business needs, the sysadmin role has evolved, with employers looking for individuals with cloud computing and networking experience and a strong working knowledge of configuration management tools. ... The future job outlook for system administrators looks promising, with current BLS research indicating employment for these professionals is expected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024,” Bykov said.
Experience with emerging cloud infrastructure tools and open source technologies can also make a substantial compensation difference for sysadmins. According to a salary study from Puppet, “Sysadmins aren't making as much as their peers. The most common salary range for sysadmins in the United States is $75,000-$100,000, while the four other most common practitioner titles (systems developer/engineer, DevOps engineer, software developer/engineer, and architect) are most likely to earn $100,000-$125,000.”
Sysadmins who have experience with OpenStack and Linux can also fare better in the hiring and salary pool. Fifty-one percent of surveyed hiring managers said that knowledge of cloud platforms has a big impact on open source hiring decisions, according to the 2016 Linux Foundation/Dice Open Source Jobs Report. There is also healthy hiring demand for sysadmins, with 48 percent of respondents in the same study reporting that they are actively looking for sysadmins.
The fact that fluency with Linux can make a big difference for sysadmins should come as no surprise. After all, Linux is the foundation for many servers and cloud deployments, as well as mobile devices. Several salary studies have shown that Linux-savvy sysadmins are better compensated than others.
More to come
In this series, we will look at the essential skills sysadmins need to stay relevant and competitive in the job market, well into the future, which include:
Security and authentication
Configuration and automation
Communication and collaboration
Open source participation
As we explore these topics, we’ll keep three guiding principles in mind:
Successful sysadmins are actively moving up the technology stack with their skillsets and embracing open source as rapidly as organizations are doing so.
Training for sysadmins is more readily available than ever -- ranging from instructor-led courses to online, on-demand courses that allow the student to set the pace.
Sysadmins have an increasingly crucial role in keeping organizations performing at their best.
Learn more about essential sysadmin skills: Download the Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career ebook now.