Employers appear to be looking for more and more workers with Linux IT skills, but they're not necessarily seeking those with Linux certification, according to statistics from Dice's US based online IT job board Dice.com.
Of the approximately 49,000 IT jobs listed on Dice.com recently, about 2,200 wanted applicants with Linux experience, said Scot Melland, CEO and president of the New York-based company. "That's up 190 percent from a year ago. It qualifies as a hot skill set that's really growing in demand."
More than half of the Linux-related jobs being advertised are developer or programming positions.
Perhaps more importantly for job seekers with Linux skills, employers don't usually require that they be certified in Linux, Melland said. "Linux certification has not taken off" as a must-have for employers looking over job candidates, he said. "I really don't know if it will."
Instead, employers seem to prefer real-world knowledge. "The mantra for the past 12 or 24 months has been experience," he said.
While the most popular Linux certification mentioned in Dice.com's job listings is for Red Hat Certified Engineers, only 10 of the 2,200 Linux job listings referred to the certification, he said. "I would say pretty much that that's pretty low," Melland said.
Joe Poole, technical support manager at Boscov's Department Store said that when his company hires IT staffers, Linux certification may help get an applicant into an interview more quickly, but it's not mandatory. The department store chain is a big Linux user in its operations, from its stores to its mainframe and servers in its data center.
The reason Linux certification isn't a must, he said, is that "if you're hiring from the outside, you really don't know (if the applicant is qualified), even if they're certified."
"Book learning and practical experience are two different things," Poole said. To find out more about an applicant's training during an interview, Poole said he will have the potential new hire talk to IT technicians inside the company so they can gauge an applicant's actual experience. "You can see whether that generates nods of approval or blank stares," he said.
Brian Dewey, a network engineer at Syracuse, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, which uses Linux in its operations and data center, agreed, saying his company doesn't require certification in Linux or any other operating system for its IT hires. "If you work for a retailer, it's not really necessary," said Dewey.
Instead of requiring certification, applicants are grilled with technical questions in an effort to trip them up and separate the qualified candidates from the rest, he said.