Certification Survey Extra: Profile of Linux-certified professionals

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

What do Linux-certified professionals have in common? And how do they differ from each other?Each time that we do one of our Certification Surveys, we gather data on certified professionals who work in the same IT sector. Everyone has at least the one thing that makes them similar to everyone else in the survey. So what else do the individuals who participate in these surveys have in common? In what ways are they different?

In this installment of our Certification Survey Extra series, we’ll create a thumbnail sketch of the individuals who participated in our recent Linux Certification Survey and see what that looks like. Those already involved in Linux may be interested to see how close their own experience is to the group profile. Those who are considering Linux as a career may be interested to find out, at a broad brush level, what their potential future looks like.

For starters, it would appear that the Linux realm, like many IT sectors, is made up of mostly male workers. A bro-skewing 89.7 percent of survey respondents are men, meaning that, comparatively, a bare handful of women participated in the survey.

There’s more diversity when it comes to the respective ages of those surveyed, though there is a pronounced skew toward late middle age.. The largest group, 27.6 percent of respondents, is made up of individuals between the ages of 35 and 44, followed by 24.2 percent between the ages of 45 and 54, and 24 percent between the ages of 55 and 64. That leaves the 6.9 percent of those surveyed who are between the ages of 65 and 74, the 13.8 percent who are between the ages of 25 and 34, and the 3.4 percent who are between the ages of 19 and 24.

More than 90 percent of those surveyed have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. Most have either a master’s degree (37.9 percent of respondents) or bachelor’s degree (41.4 percent), with the rest in that group claiming either a doctorate (3.4 percent) or an associate’s degree (10.3 percent). The outliers are the 3.8 percent of those surveyed who completed some level of post-high school technical training and the 3 percent who exited the realm of formal education after obtaining a high school diploma.

Roughly two-thirds (67.9 percent) of those surveyed live and work in the United States, but we did hear from certified Linux professionals in eight other countries: Brazil, Denmark, Hungary, India, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, and Turkey.

The norm among certified Linux professionals who participated in the survey is to hold a limited number of current Linux certifications, primarily either one (51.9 percent of those surveyed) or two (25.9 percent). Roughly 15 percent of respondents hold three current Linux certs, a further 3.7 percent hold four, and the rest (3.6 percent) hold five or more.

About half of those surveyed, worked in the Linux realm for fewer than 5 years before getting their first Linux certification: for 11.1 percent of respondents it was less than a year, an additional 18.5 percent certified after a year in the field, 3.7 percent certified after getting two years of professional experience, 15.1 percent certified after three years of professional experience, and 3.4 percent certified after four years. Exactly 25.9 percent of all respondents held a Linux job (or jobs) for somewhere between 5 and 10 years before getting their first certification. The remaining 22.2 percent of respondents did not board the Linux certification express until after they’d been Linux-ing professionally for more than a decade.

Linux employment tends to be fairly stable. Nearly 50 percent of survey respondents have been with their current employer for more than a decade, and a further 13 percent have been with their current employer for somewhere between 3 and 10 years. Everyone else has been in place for two or fewer years.

Finally, there’s a slightly more than 3-to-1 split between certified Linux professional who work for large employers and the rest of the spectrum. A bit more than three-fourths of those surveyed either work for companies that have more than 10,000 total employees (30.4 percent of respondents), companies with between 5,000 and 10,000 employees (8.9 percent), or companies with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees (39.1 percent). The rest are with firms that have either between 500 and 1,000 workers (8.5 percent of respondents), between 50 and 200 workers (4.5 percent), or are self-employed (also 8.5 percent).

Taking all of that into account, and painting with an extremely broad brush, most of the certified Linux professional who participated in the survey are likely to be men, older than 35, with a college or university degree. They are most likely to be from the United States, have either one or two current Linux credentials, and probably worked in the Linux realm for five or fewer years before getting certified. They are further most likely to work for companies with that have at least 1,000 employees and have probably held the same job for 7 or 8 years or longer. How do you fit the profile?

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