If you want a tech job, you want to be in Linux and open source software. Because that’s where the employers are slathering to find qualified personnel. And they want you.
There I was, at perhaps the biggest hard-core, open source conference of them all these days, OSCon. The buzz was that everyone, and I mean everyone, was looking to hire. So I thought to myself, "Are they really?" I set about asking every OSCon exhibitor, more than a hundred of them, if they were indeed looking for new staff and ready to make job offers.
Would you care to guess the percentage of the OSCon exhibitors who replied, "Yes, we're hiring?" I'll give you a minute to come up with a number.
It was 100%.
Every last vendor there was hiring. Every one.
From the usual open source suspects (such as Google and Red Hat) to the big computer companies (such as Dell and HP) to a different kind of "big iron" businesses (including GM and Motorola) to open-source "enemies" (such as Expedia and Microsoft) to tiny companies (such as WikiMedia and InMotion Hosting). All of them want to hire staff. Heck there was even a billboard outside Portland's Oregon Convention Center proclaiming, from Web hosting company HostGator, "Do you know Linux? We are hiring!"
One mistake that people outside open source circles might make about its job market is that the opportunities limited to open source companies or major technology powers. It's not.
Open source software and Linux are embedded within businesses of all sizes and sorts. For example, Intuit, makers of the Quicken personal financial suite, and Ancestry.com, the genealogy website, are also looking for open source talent.
While I was doing my impromptu survey, I asked the exhibitors for whom exactly were they looking. The answers were all over the job board. Yes, as you might imagine, lots of human resources personnel were looking for top programmers and developers, but the job openings were also for system and network administrators, documentation writers, and software quality testers.
But this trend is more than the subset of the industry that attends an open source conference. To get to the real heart of what's hot in open source job circles, I talked to Shravan Goli, the president of job site Dice.
Goli said, "The rise of open source jobs is part of a broader trend. We're seeing tremendous tech job growth everywhere." According to Goli and the Dice job trends, the hot areas are cloud, especially OpenStack; Big Data, Hadoop in particular; and the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python). Other really hot areas include the Solr open source search engine and anything with mobile phones, especially Android. In short, he says, "The newer tech is hot, hot, hot and recruiters are swarming."
Specific hot open source areas, according to Dice's year-to-year data from August 2012 to August 2013, shows that the white-hot job trends are:
These jobs are not just in the locations you'd expect, Goli pointed out, such as New York City, Silicon Valley, or Washington, DC. Instead, he says, "Open source job growth is happening across all markets. Some are growing faster than others. For example, of the fastest growing metro markets with over 500 technology jobs, Portland, Oregon was number two. We're seeing job markets heating up in other cities like Charlotte, Kansas City, and St. Louis. The need for open source savvy IT staff is spreading everywhere."
The tech sector as a whole may still have trouble, but it does have its bright spots. And one of them, burning with incandescence, is the Linux and open source fields.