Open source IT jobs by the numbers: 13 statistics

If you have open source skills, hiring managers want you. Consider fresh open source jobs stats from The Linux Foundation's 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source report
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Enterprise use of open source software continues to grow in 2020, fueled by a variety of factors. It’s not just an anecdotal trend, either. You can quantify the pattern.

In Red Hat’s 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source report, for example, 77 percent of respondents said their use of open source would grow during the next 12 months. (That’s among a wide-ranging group of 950 IT decision-makers across 11 different countries.) Their top uses for enterprise open source include security, cloud management, and databases.

[ Want more data? Read also: 10 compelling stats on the state of enterprise open source for IT leaders. ]

Of course, this also means that these organizations need qualified IT pros with the skills required to build, deploy, and operate systems that rely on open source technologies – and those IT pros are in high demand.

That’s the overall takeaway from the recently released 2020 Open Source Jobs Report, conducted by The Linux Foundation and edX. In fact, it leads off with that same 77 percent stat and other numbers from the 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source report. If you have open source chops and related skills, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for you.

That’s still true even this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered organizational planning and decision-making in multiple areas, including hiring.

[ On the IT job market? Get some timely advice: How to get a job during COVID-19: 9 smart tips. ]

Open source jobs: By the numbers

Let’s take a look at 13 numbers (and then some) that tell the current tale of open source skills on the current job market.

65 percent of hiring managers say they're actively looking for more DevOps talent.

DevOps is the #1 role: As in, number one overall: DevOps roles have become the hottest hiring category tracked in the open source jobs report, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of hiring managers indicating that they were actively looking for more DevOps talent. That’s up from 59 percent in 2018. While DevOps and open source aren’t actually synonymous, the demand for DevOps experience speaks to the significant overlap with open source in terms of culture, processes, and tools.

14,449 open DevOps engineer roles: Have you been online job-hunting lately? A recent nationwide U.S. search for DevOps engineer on LinkedIn produced 14,449 open positions. (You can argue the merits of the DevOps engineer title, but there’s not much debate that it’s in widespread use today.) If you simply search “DevOps,” which broadens the field to include titles like DevOps architect and many others, that recently returned more than 48,000 open positions.

59 percent seeking new developers: The percentage of hiring managers who said they’re on the hunt for developers in 2020. That’s a fairly sharp drop-off from 72 percent in 2018, when developers were the most in-demand role, which in turn opened the door for DevOps jobs to take the top spot.

$99,604 average salary for DevOps pros: The demand for DevOps personnel is also reflected in various salary estimates available online – this is the current national average, according to Glassdoor. Slap a “senior” in front of the title and it jumps to $120,028.

[ Can you ask for a raise during a pandemic? Yes, read: How to ask for a raise during COVID-19. ]

Note: Sysadmin positions in some organizations are increasingly viewed as DevOps roles.

35 percent seeking sysadmins: The percentage of hiring managers in the report who said they’re actively hiring sysadmins in 2020, another decline – that’s down from 49 percent in 2018. The reason isn’t necessarily that the need for system administrator skills themselves is decreasing. Rather, the report notes that sysadmin positions in some organizations are increasingly viewed as DevOps roles.

63 percent seeking open source architect skills: In a section on the skills that most influence hiring decisions, nearly two out of three (63 percent) of hiring managers said they need people who can architect solutions based on open source software.

74 percent: IT pros with open source chops agree and then some: nearly three out of four (74 percent) said that “a proven ability to architect solutions based on open source software is essential in this industry.”

70 percent of hiring managers say “know your cloud:” In terms of “knowledge domains,” understanding open cloud technologies appears to be one of the most employable traits at the moment: seven out of 10 hiring managers said they would be more likely to hire an IT pro with experience in this area.

[ Speaking of open cloud technologies. Learn more: How to explain Kubernetes in plain English. ]

37 percent expect to add to staff this year: Hiring may be tamped down by economic and other concerns right now, but it hasn’t gone cold: More than one-third of hiring managers said they expected to hire additional IT pros this year. And they’re struggling as much as ever to find people with open source expertise: 93 percent of those hiring say it’s difficult to do so, up from 87 percent in 2018.

56 percent: Hiring plans appear to be ticking up at a faster rate for people in open source, with 56 percent of hiring managers indicating that they’re ramping up their hiring of open source skills in the next six months.

68 percent of IT pros pursuing new certifications: The value of various IT certifications has long been a water-cooler topic in the industry. Right now, the tide appears to be shifting toward “yes, they are valuable:” 68 percent of IT pros surveyed in the Open Source Jobs Report said they’re planning to pursue certification this year. Other numbers paint a similar picture: six out of 10 IT pros would like their employers to pay the bill for a certification (up from 47 percent in 2018.) And nearly three in four hiring decision-makers say they’re willing to do so, according to the report.

74 percent of hiring managers want Linux experience: Linux remains the most in-demand open source skill, with nearly three in four hiring managers saying they need people with Linux experience. That’s down from 80 percent in 2018.

69 percent want cloud and container pros: There’s a closely related runner-up in terms of skills that pay the bills: Cloud and containers came in second among hiring decision-makers at 69 percent, a five-point increase from 2018.

[ Want to learn more about building and deploying Kubernetes Operators? Get the free O'Reilly eBooks: Kubernetes Operators: Automating the Container Orchestration Platform and  Kubernetes patterns for designing cloud-native apps. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.