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Linux Engineer Career Guide

Are you good at analytics and have solid problem-solving skills? Do you have strong interpersonal skills and in-depth technical and computer skills? You could be a perfect fit for a Linux engineer career.

Linux engineers install and monitor Unix/Linux open-source operating systems, hardware, and systems. They need to be knowledgeable in programming and using Linux operating as well as network monitoring. They also troubleshoot and resolve user issues, fulfill change management requests, and implement regular health checks to identify potential issues. Linux engineers automate processes and procedures by writing scripts for standardized functions and work in conjunction with other IT professionals. A Linux engineer must have a solid grasp of enterprise infrastructure, how hardware interacts with the Linux OS, and working knowledge of Storage Area Networks (SAN) servers. They set up configurations for network, database, and high availability services, and design and develop OS system configurations for software packages. 

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is searching for a Linux engineer. The Linux engineer will be responsible for installing and monitoring Unix/Linux open-source operating systems and caters to the client’s needs in this environment. The individual also resolves user issues, addresses change management requests, and identifies potential issues by implementing protective measures. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience designing, implementing, and monitoring Linux infrastructure, maintaining Linux systems, and collaborating with other IT professionals in developing automation strategies and deployment processes.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Install, configure, and maintain servers in a Linux environment
  • Develop and implement backup and disaster recovery strategies
  • Monitor the health of the Linux servers through both automated and manual processes
  • Design, develop, and implement infrastructure monitoring and reporting tools through scripts such as BASH and PowerShell
  • Perform server hardware maintenance and upgrades
  • Create test automation frameworks in collaboration with team members or other IT departments
  • Develop tools to help increase functionality and efficiency of available infrastructure
  • Maintain software repositories and apply software updates
  • Maintain documentation for procedures, configurations, and programs

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences, engineering, or its equivalent
  • 2+ years experience working with Linux operating systems

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong scripting skills in Python, Ruby, Perl, or a related language
  • Knowledge of automation technologies
  • Excellent communication and documentation skills
  • Experience with Linux servers in virtualized environments
  • Strong knowledge of Linux scripting languages
  • Experience installing, configuring, and maintaining services such as Bind, Apache, MySQL, Nginx, etc.
  • Solid understanding of configuration management tools, such as Puppet and Chef 
  • Strong problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Knowledge of databases such as MS SQL, Oracle, or DB2

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with cloud computing 
  • Experience with open-source application suites, such as WordPress or Drupal
  • Master’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field

Typical work environment

Linux engineers typically work in office settings where they spend much of their time in front of a computer. As part of their day, they might be scripting, performing health checks, addressing hardware or software issues, or developing and implementing new processes and procedures, and collaborating with team members and other departments.

Typical hours

 The typical work hours for a Linux engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Additional work hours are sometimes required on nights and weekends to troubleshoot specific issues, apply hardware and software changes and upgrades, and address change management requests.

Available certifications

Linux engineers work in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications. Here are some of the best certifications for Linux engineers: 

  • Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE). The LFCE program is designed for Linux engineers with at least 3 to 5 years of experience, who want to demonstrate an advanced level of Linux administration and engineering skills. The exam is performance-based and includes real-world simulations. Earning the LFCE certification proves your ability to perform challenging engineering tasks under specific time constraints. Competencies include the operation of running systems, user and group management, networking, and system design and deployment. There are no prerequisites for the exam.
  • Linux+ CompTIA Certification. This certification covers the latest Linux foundational skills as well as the tasks performed in Linux distributions, Linux command line, maintenance, installation, configuration, and networking. The hands-on course provides valuable experience in configuring, supporting, and monitoring servers that run the Linux Operating System. Certification demonstrates a solid foundation in security, storage, enterprise-level device management, git & automation, networking, and more. Certification is good for three years and can be renewed through activities and training related to the Linux certification.
  • LPIC 1 – Linux Administrator. This certification, administered by the Linux Professional Institute, validates your ability to perform command-line maintenance tasks, install and configure a Linux system, and configure basic networking. You will learn how to manage real-world system administration. The course covers a wide range of topics, including system architecture, Linux installation, GNU and Unix commands, Linux filesystems, shell & shell scripting, and many more. Certification is valid for 5 years. 

Career path

The career path to becoming a Linux engineer starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. A master’s degree in a related field is also beneficial. Internship programs can help individuals gain valuable experience, as well as develop strong computer skills and communication skills. Many professionals complete courses to obtain certification in computer or electrical engineering, which shows their advanced skills and knowledge. There are many paths to becoming a Linux engineer. Individuals might start out as DevOps engineers, software engineers, systems administrators,  or programmers and progress to a role as a Linux engineer. With dedication and years of experience, you can advance into a position as a senior system administrator.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1244

2020 Employment350,300
Projected Employment in 20302,257,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift18,800 increase

As software becomes more and more complex, the threat of cyber attacks will grow. Engineers will need to focus more on protecting their development environment, enabling up-to-date software security, and maintaining the security of software, networks, and infrastructure. 

Manual, repetitive processes are being replaced by automation and robotics, taking on routine tasks that reduce the risk of errors while maintaining quality. Automation is nothing new, but it will continue to become more common. Artificial Intelligence for applications is also on the rise. AI can build and develop software applications faster and more efficiently, providing better results, greater satisfaction for internal and external customers, and aiding engineers in making better decisions. The AI trend applies throughout all sectors, from small start-ups to big corporations.  

The advent of continuous integration and continuous delivery is helping IT teams evaluate and react quickly to technological changes, allowing them to consistently develop, evolve, and improve systems, software, and hardware. Engineers can use continuous integration and continuous delivery to help detect errors and mistakes in systems much faster than before, giving them plenty of time to correct issues and maintain healthier systems.