Two tech professionals studying for agile certifications

Mastering open-source skills could translate into significant job opportunities and salary boosts, according to the Linux Foundation’s 2021 Open Source Jobs Report.

The sample size for the report (PDF) is relatively small (200 technical hiring managers and 750 open-source professionals) but nonetheless provides some crucial insights into how companies approach hiring technologists with the right mix of open-source skills. Some 92 percent of hiring mangers reported difficulty finding technologist talent with open-source skills, and 39 percent of companies “have given open source talent more salary increases than other business areas.”

In addition, some 58 percent of hiring managers reported “they are increasing training for existing employees to close the skills gap,” which dovetails nicely with the 66 percent of developers who reported “employee-sponsored training opportunities as being the most sought benefit.” Wanting to learn open-source technologies, in other words, might translate into employer-subsidized educational opportunities.

What can technologists do to convince hiring managers that they have the right mix of skills and experience to succeed in an open-source context? While not all hiring managers grasp the nuances of an open-source technology, they’re aware that certifications show a technologist has the necessary skills—some 72 percent of hiring managers said they were more likely to hire someone with a certification. Keep that in mind as you’re reserving time for training and learning over the next several quarters.

Hiring managers also seek technologists who have contributed to open-source projects. If you’re applying for a job at a company that wants open-source experience, make sure to emphasize your open-source work in your resume and application materials (such as a link to a GitHub repo); if you haven’t worked much with open source in a professional context, contributing to interesting projects during your free time can not only boost your experience levels, but also show hiring managers that you’re passionate about the underlying technologies.

“Companies are leaning into the importance of specific open source projects and recruiting individuals who have been involved with them,” the report added. “This desire to increase employment of in-house FOSS project contributors is at least partly due to increased adoption of open source generally, in addition to more organizations gaining a better understanding of how to work with the open source community.”

According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job postings from across the country, the median salary for open-source development skills is $104,738. Top jobs that ask for open-source development skills include software developer, network engineer, DevOps engineer, and data engineer, which are all professions predicted to grow significantly over the next decade. Learning open-source skills now can potentially open up a lot of opportunity later.