Sunday, November 6, 2011

Linux is the fastest growing career field.

So... I have a bachelor's degree already. I did what they tell you- It was suppose to be Step 1: Go to college, Step 2: Get Job, Step 3: Work Hard, Step 4: Profit! Step three turned out to be more of a variable and for me step four has become "unemployment!" So, I have am BACK in school to try this again with a focus on computers.

Having a background in Linux opens up the world. You can work in ANY sector- public or private. You can work in any industry, like aerospace, education, hospitality, politics, sales, transportation, shipping, information technology, research, marketing, engineering, quality assurance, gaming (casinos), software, healthcare... the list is endless because of the prevalence that technology and computers have in today's society. Virtually EVERY company has a website and uses computers in their day-to-day operations and those computers and websites need systems administrators, network engineers, programmers, IT troubleshooting, and designers to design, run and repair their computer operations.

Although many companies are satisfied with background and experience over formal certifications it is likely that in the future these certifications will be more common place. LPCI1 is an 'entry level' certification. You must pass two exams and are expected to demonstrate an ability to work a command line, execute specific tasks, run routine maintenance and assist users, and you are also expected to be able to set up and network virtual workstations, or individual computers. LPCI2 steps it up a bit- you must have received your LPCI1, and another two exams demonstrating you are able to perform more detailed maintenance on a larger site, run automation, manage assistants, and administer to a mixed systems including Microsoft, Linux, Internet, etc. The highest certification you can receive in Linux is LPCI3- this consists of a 'core' certification earned with a single exam, and multiple other specializations in areas like security, or mixed environments. People who take the level three exams generally have already been working in the field doing sys, admin. for number of years. They are able to run large networks with many computers, can work seamlessly with a variety of operating systems and different technologies, they must know at least one programming language (like Perl, C, or Java), and be skilled/trained in all levels of Linux like security, installation, management, troubleshooting, and maintenance. No small task!

More and more companies and even countries like Brazil are switching to Linux or Linux based software making experience and certification with Linux vital for their IT employees. Benefits, depending on experience and additional computer knowledge range from $40-$50 an hour, to $200k/annually. You'll also find things like contract work for single projects, or some people find success working 'freelance' for multiple smaller companies and groups on contract for their IT work from their own homes.

One of the best benefits people find with these jobs is the variety of locals- in the tech fields you can work from home, or move to any part of the world. This doesn't mean you are guaranteed a fancy job and lots of money for learning Linux- the hours of work are long, experience is highly valued, and you have to have diversity in your skills to make sure you are a valuable asset. Often you're on-call, and people will take out frustrations with technology on you. IT also carries a workplace stigma, which is great for television and humor, but can be isolating. For me, with a background in Political Science and soon to be a Masters in Criminal Justice, I see computer science knowledge as a way to keep up with crimes and they evolve, but also as a way to elevate the perception of my existing skill-set in the workplace. After all, experience counts, but it isn't everything.

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