Over the last few years Linux has exploded, beyond anybody’s expectations.
Thanks to the likes of the automotive industry taking up Linux, Chromebooks, Android devices and much more, Linux is now everywhere.

And now 80%, and some say even more, of all IT companies are looking for a Linux expert as the most vital part of their business.
That’s a massive number.
And as Windows is losing numbers greatly, now is the time to be that Linux expert.

There is just one small issue.

If you are a computer science graduate, then you are most likely not having too much trouble finding a job, although this is changing greatly due to the focus on Windows in the curriculum which means nothing in relation to Linux.
And if you are not a graduate, then I’m sure you know the pain of getting a Linux job.

I am in the latter boat.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances in my life, I was unable to complete my computer science diploma, something which from personal observation shouldn’t matter too much (most of my professors treated me rather rudely for using Linux), but unfortunately, it makes a world of difference.

Now, Linux jobs are a lot like developer jobs in what they require to be employed.
Let’s say you are a C++ programmer, and you are somewhat of a nerd(I say this with great admiration) having taught yourself everything and never needed university for it.
Well, take a look at the jobs out there and you will see one recurring theme:
‘Should have a minimum of 5 years experience’.
Sounds fair, however, in order to get 5 years experience, you need to be employed by people who require you to have 5 years experience…introduce the infinite loop.

The question now becomes, how to gain experience in order to be considered.
A lot of places won’t accept university degrees now since they are not too Linux orientated (my university degree which would take 4 years, had only 4 months of Linux covering the basic usage of a terminal!).

Well, there is no quick global fix, but there are a few options that will greatly increase your chances so you don’t have to be stressed anymore.

Firstly, we will look at non-academic choices and what you can do to make the best chance.

Get recognised!

It is important to know what direction you are heading towards.
A developer is not the same as a System Admin, nor the same as an engineer.

If you are using Ubuntu, then everything you need for this step is available for you, although not as easy as they may appear.

Set up a Launchpad account if you have not already done so.
Through Launchpad you are able to keep up to date with current development of projects, create your own, and help out.
Search for your interests and join the team. You will also want to join the mailing list.

Wherever possible, join in and help out, you don’t have to be a developer either.
If you like testing the bleeding edge, then why not become part of the testing team. And each time you get a window saying something went wrong during something you were doing, don’t ignore the warning but report it (it’s only a button away), that way you are testing.

If your native language is not English (mine is Dutch), then you can do some translating.
Besides helping your profile, it also gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

Next you will want to join AskUbuntu, and instead of being the one to ask questions, try and answer some, you even get points for doing so.
And for some there are bounties which gets you reputation very quickly.

And do you have some knowledge about Linux, then why not hop on over to the Ubuntu IRC channel (#ubuntu on Freenode) and try and answer some questions.
You don’t get points but there are a lot of regulars there who will begin to know you if you appear often (and you will need that for the next option) but most of all, be social.

Having made contacts there or in the overall Ubuntu community helps a lot. And those contacts can be very helpful in becoming an Ubuntu member.
Now don’t get confused here, I don’t mean an Ubuntu user, but member. This is a recognised member of the official Ubuntu team.
Once you feel you have made a good contribution to Ubuntu, whether through testing, helping, fixing or translating, go and apply for Ubuntu Membership.
You will need to set up a profile on the Ubuntu Wiki and everything you have done for Ubuntu is recorded there.
You will then be given a date and time on IRC to attend for the ‘interview’. Make sure that any member or people who endorse you should also come along to testify, that’s why being social is almost vital here.
If you are successful, you will become an Ubuntu member, complete with @ubuntu.com email address and all the other official perks.

After you have done all this, there is a virtual papertrail of your activity within Ubuntu, make sure you give all important websites and membership details on your CV (resume), this will show that you are respected within Linux.

***NOTE*** What might also help you and give you a sense of accomplishment, is the Ubuntu Accomplishment application.
This application allows you to win achievements through completing goals.
Some of these are not amazing and don’t help (Add music to Rhythmbox), whilst others do (Become an Ubuntu Member).

And join a LoCo team.
Whether a physical team, or a virtual one.
This is not technical, and not so much as work as it is joining like-minded people.
It’s fun but also helps you get recognised.

Academic Options

Whilst there is no official one-solution fix, which gets recognised as the One Diploma To Rule Them All.
There are a few highly regarded diploma’s you can obtain which will make the biggest difference to that job interview.

The first of these is done by the Linux Professional Institute, and is called the LPI.
There are 3 of these.

The first of these are the LPI-1.
This is an exam that checks if you stand above average in Linux.

Whilst having LPI-1 is not enough to get a great job in Linux, it will be enough to be seen as just a ‘hobbyist’ (I got called that due to my lack of certification about 7 years ago).
There is no official course to take in order to obtain any LPI certificate, but rather just an exam.
Many of private institutions offer this in a course form, rounding off with an exam, but you can also just buy a book from O’Reilly to get you prepared if you think that’s enough.
For the exams you would need to check where they are held, but normally you can find them at Linux conferences and only cost around 80 euro ($105).

But there is also a series of diplomas offered by RedHat.
These are usually in course form and at the end offer you official RedHat certification along the same lines as Microsoft certification.
Like all certifications, they are upgradable in as far as having just one certificate places you at the bottom of the ‘experts’ table, and having obtained them all will place you at a high grade Linux Expert.
The RedHat certification program is not the cheapest however, these will cost a few thousand euro’s and dollars to obtain.

You also have the option of getting Ubuntu certification, but, if I must be honest, they are not really worth much.

Having these certificates in your CV will most definately increase your chances.
They are a great way to show you have no experience in the job, but have more than adequate experience in your field.

Like I said though, some will cost a lot of money, so if you don’t have much, why not try using one certificate to get a job and then invest in more.


Hopefully this will give you some understanding in how to get the foot in the door of a Linux career.