Linux skills are hot, but Linux certification isn't, according to US online IT job board Dice.com.
Of the 49,000 IT jobs listed on Dice.com recently, about 2,200 requested applicants with Linux experience, said the company's chief executive and president Scot Melland. "That's up 190% from a year ago. It qualifies as a hot skill set that's really growing in demand."
More than half the Linux-related jobs advertised are developer or programming positions, and about a third are located in California.
Perhaps more importantly for job seekers with Linux skills, Melland said that employers didn't usually require Linux qualifications. "Linux certification has not taken off as a must-have. 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," Melland said.
The most common Linux certification specified in Dice.com's job listings was Red Hat Certified Engineer, but only 10 of the 2,200 Linux listings required it.
Joe Poole, technical support manager at a US chain store that makes heavy use of Linux, said that Linux certification could help an applicant get an interview more quickly, but that it wasn't essential.
"If you're hiring from the outside, you really don't know if an applicant is qualified, even if they're certified," he said. "Book learning and practical experience are two different things."
To find out more about an applicant's training, Poole gets his IT technicians to talk to them. "You can see whether that generates nods of approval or blank stares."
Brian Dewey, a network engineer at a US retailer that uses Linux in its operations and data centre, agreed. He said his company didn't require certification in any operating system for its IT hires. "If you work for a retailer, it's not really necessary."
Instead, he grills applicants with technical questions to try to trip them up and separate the qualified candidates from the rest.
Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld