Using Linux may make you a geek--stereotypically speaking, at least--but it could also mean you have a great shot at landing a job (or getting a better one). That's according to a survey out this week that has produced some startling findings concerning demand for Linux IT talent--such as that salary for Linux admins is growing nearly twice as fast as compensation pan-industry. For rewards like that, I'd happily embrace geekiness in all its glory.

Admittedly, since the survey was produced by the Linux Foundation in partnership with Dice, its sponsors were not a purely objective party. But assuming they operated properly and professionally--and there's no reason to think they did not--they uncovered information that bodes very well for the professional prospects of IT staff with expertise in Linux. Among their findings:
  • 93 percent of hiring managers surveyed expect to fill a Linux position in the next six months, up from 89 percent a year ago.
  • 90 percent of respondents said it was "somewhat difficult" or "very difficult" to find IT professionals with solid Linux experience.
  • The average salary for Linux professionals is $90,853, compared to $85,619 for IT professionals in general--and, as noted above, compensation for the Linux crowd is growing nearly twice as fast.
  • Companies are more willing to extend perks such as telecommuting options and flexible work schedules to attract Linux talent.
Also notable in the report was particularly strong demand for Linux system administrators, even more than for Linux-oriented developers. That may reflect a growing need for talent to run cloud computing and Big Data infrastructure, the authors suggested.

To me, that finding also implies that the most in-demand skills among Linux professionals are some of the hardest for personnel without traditional Linux or Unix experience to acquire. Most developers with experience programming for Windows can learn easily enough to write for Linux, since many of the languages are the same, and those that aren't are rarely difficult to pick up. But Windows and Linux are much more different beasts when it comes to system administration, so someone with years of experience managing Microsoft desktops and servers will need to invest a lot more time to become an expert in Linux administration. That's good news for those who already have Linux skills.

The survey results were based on information provided by hiring managers and Linux professionals at about 850 organizations, ranging in size from large enterprises to SMBs and in type from businesses to government agencies, located across the globe. They're available online from the Linux Foundation.