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Careers in Linux

written by: Pranav Thadeshwar•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 8/7/2009

Want to use your Linux knowledge to make money? From what I've seen, most of the people in the Linux scene have started as hobbyists and enthusiastic newbies, only to progress and gain a large amount of knowledge in Linux. The good news is that the world is looking for people like you!

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    Introduction

    With Linux growing in popularity everyday, and with the respect it commands in the server and enterprise arena, you can make a good living with your knowledge of Linux. Being very popular in the enterprise and gaining popularity on the desktop, a multitude of designations and jobs are available. In this article, we take a look at some of them.

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    Technician

    The job of a technician is to manage Linux desktops and workstations. As a technician, you are expected to know how to perform installations, partitioning, managing users, services, basic scripting, troubleshooting network and operating system problems. Red Hat has made a certification specially for people looking to work as Linux technicians, the RHCT (Red Hat Certified Technician). As a technician, you can get a job at companies using Linux, datacentres, colleges, schools, stores and many other places. As a technician, you can easily gain a few years of experience and become a systems administrator in the same or a larger place.

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    Systems Administrator

    With a few years of experience as a technician or through direct study, you can become a Linux sysadmin. These positions are held by people who know everything that a technician does, and a lot more. As a sysadmin, you are expected to know how to secure systems and servers, package management, firewall management, managing important services like http, ftp, dns; setting up backups, cron jobs and other administrative tasks. Most Linux sysadmins are going to be working on server-oriented distributions Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Debian, Ubuntu and CentOS to name a few, so if you are thinking of learning systems-administration, you'd be smart to choose one of these distributions to study with.

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    Application and Web Programmer

    As Linux grows in the corporate and enterprise arena, more and more developers are needed who can code on and for Linux. With a large part of the World Wide Web's content publishing business being run on a free software stack (LAMP - Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), more programmers are in demand who can code in multiple languages, write plugins, addons, design databases and applications, manage services and script in various languages. With Linux also growing in the desktop arena, a lot more companies and software groups will be targeting the Linux desktops with their applications and games. These games and applications are generally programmed in either low-level languages like Assembler, C, C++ or applications coded using high-level coding toolkits like QT and GTK+, which are either designed to run best on Unix/Linux or supported better than in Windows with free compilers and so on.

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    Support

    More and more companies are looking at people who are proficient in Linux and who can help others with Linux. With the growth of Linux in the corporate scene, many large companies are migrating their desktops to Linux to save money on licensing costs. As a support technician, you job would be to support the people in these companies do their work without being confused or hindered by the change in their OS and methodologies and applications.

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    Teaching and Writing

    A lot of big bucks are to be made by teaching the above people to get where they want to be. As a teacher, and with the relevant experience and/or certifications, you can get a job in a University, School, College or Institute which teaches Linux. As a writer, you can get a job which would entail you writing documentation or articles for magazines, newspapers, large companies and so on. Your previous writing portfolio will count when you go for a job anywhere, so starting up a personal blog to write about Linux can be a good use of your free time.

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    Conclusion

    There are many more niche fields where Linux can and is making a difference today. And with the problems in the economy and enthusiasm towards Linux, it is only set to grab more marketshare in the future. With the right knowledge, attitude, contacts and luck, you can easily make lots of money as a Linux professional. If you already have a job in an IT field, getting additional knowledge and certifications can give the boost and raise that your career needs in these times. Stay tuned for more articles about Linux in the corporate and desktop sector, we have lots in store!