Open source IT jobs in 2021: 15 statistics

Whether you're an IT job seeker or hiring for a key role, open source skills are top of mind. Consider these telling statistics for more insights
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If you want to be eminently employable in IT, beef up your open source skills.

That’s the takeaway for IT job hunters from the 2021 Open Source Jobs Report, conducted by The Linux Foundation and edX.

Virtually every employer (97 percent) included in their survey said that hiring open source talent is a current priority; 92 percent of them said it’s difficult to find that talent. That’s a challenge for hiring managers, but it puts qualified IT pros in a strong position if you’re looking for your next opportunity.

[ Also read IT jobs: 4 tricky situations facing job hunters now. ]

“We are facing a situation where new technologies are being built on legacy technologies, requiring middleware that often cannot keep up with changes in underlying software infrastructure,” the report says. “When combined with a lack of skills around both old and new technologies, the hiring market for open source talent is experiencing unprecedented stress.”

Open source is a mainstay in IT applications and infrastructure. It’s also the glue that binds together the diverse, hybrid environments that increasingly characterize the modern enterprise.

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Open source IT jobs 2021: By the numbers

Let’s take a closer look at 15 more numbers (and then some) about open source and IT in general that reveal key trends for job hunters and hiring managers alike.

46 percent of hiring managers surveyed are actively hiring for cloud and containerization abilities.

46 percent: For the first time in the open source jobs report’s nine-year run, employers ranked cloud and containers as the most sought-after open source skill set. Nearly half (46 percent) of hiring managers surveyed are actively hiring people with cloud and containerization abilities.

35 percent: Cloud and containers unseated Linux development and administration skills from the top spot for the first time in the Linux Foundation report. The core open source technology ranked second this year, with more than one-third of employers on the hunt for Linux experience. However, the report notes that the intrinsic relationship between Linux, cloud, and containers means they likely go hand-in-hand on many hiring managers’ wish lists.

72 percent: The driver behind increasing demand for cloud and container skills is not much of a mystery. Cloud adoption and containerization continue to rise and will continue to do so: 72 percent of the 1,250 IT leaders included in Red Hat's 2021 The State of Enterprise Open Source report expect their use of containers to grow, with 30 percent anticipating their use will increase significantly.

[ Get the checklist: Top security and compliance considerations for IT modernization. ]

50 percent: Half of the hiring managers polled in the open source jobs report said they’ve accelerated their open source-related hiring overall in the next six months.

79 percent: Regarding overall demand for open source talent, 79 percent of IT leaders say their use of enterprise open source for emerging technologies will increase during the next two years.

26, 24, and 23 percent: Networking, DevOps, and security skills round out (respectively) the top five hiring targets in this year’s open source jobs report.

$100K+: The demand appears to be reflected in the actual job market, where various job titles related to cloud, containers, DevOps, open source, and other modern skills command average salaries well into the six figures, according to various industry sources.

Here are some examples from Robert Half’s 2022 salary guide – note that these are national averages in the 50th percentile, meaning in some locations the average salary can be quite a bit higher depending on location and other variables:

DevOps Engineer: $125,750

Site Reliability Engineer: $126,750

Network/Cloud Architect: $153,750

Network/Cloud Engineer: $118,750

Software Engineer/Senior Software Engineer: $124,500 / $135,200

Data Security Analyst: $141,000

IT Operations Manager: $137,750

4x: Certifications remain a relevant credential for IT pros looking to bolster their resume or extend their existing skills and experience into new areas. And apparently, they used some of their time at home last year to seek out new certs: Four times as many people took a Kubernetes certification test during the first half of 2020 compared with 2019, according to the Linux Foundation. The number of people taking a Kubernetes certification exam increased another 43 percent in the first half of 2021, according to the Linux Foundation.

85 percent: That’s probably not a bad career development choice: 85 percent of IT leaders see Kubernetes as key to cloud-native application development, with the majority characterizing it as “extremely important” (30 percent) or “very important” (36 percent), according to Red Hat’s State of Enterprise Open Source report.

88 percent: The vast majority of employers included in the Linux Foundation survey say they are prioritizing candidates with relevant certifications this year. That’s up from 57 percent in 2020 and less than half (47 percent) in 2018. The report links the increase to the large, evolving universe of open source technologies. Look no further than the Cloud Native Computing Foundation landscape for a sense of just how large.

48 percent: IT pros included in the survey also ranked cloud and container technologies as the most needed skills on the job market right now, followed by DevOps/GitOps/DevSecOps experience (44 percent), Linux (31 percent), and networking technologies (23 percent).

88 percent: Open source isn’t just a matter of technology choices but cultural shifts as well: 88 percent of the IT pros surveyed said they’re already using DevOps practices in their current role, an indicator of how pervasive the model has become.

41 percent: We end more or less where we started, with the pervasive impact of cloud and cloud-centric technologies on hiring and career development. As hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments expand, so too does the need for people comfortable with the diverse infrastructure and tools required in these modern IT environments. In the open source jobs survey, 41 percent of hiring managers say that candidates with experience in open cloud technologies have the biggest impact on hiring decisions.

[ Read also: OpenShift and Kubernetes: What’s the difference? ]

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.