Linux Programmer: Career Information & Requirements

Apr 07, 2019

Linux is a freely distributed, open source computer operating system that, although similar, can serve as an alternative to UNIX. Read on to learn more about education requirements, skill sets, career outlook and salary potential for Linux programmers.

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Career Definition for a Linux Programmer

Linux programmers are responsible for developing, debugging and documenting computer programs for the Linux operating system and related software applications. Their responsibilities are similar to those of computer programmers in general and may include using C++, Python or other programming language to write codes or instructions that the device can understand. Computer programmers work in tandem with software developers, and overlapping duties may include creating flowcharts, prototypes and system interfaces for new programs. Linux operating systems can be found on mainframes, servers and supercomputers.

Education Associate degree at minimum; bachelor's is typical
Job Skills Programming and scripting language skills, team player, communication skills, writing ability
Median Salary (2018)* $84,280 for computer programmers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* -7% for computer programmers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The minimum educational requirement for a computer programmer is an associate degree in a computer-related area. However, the majority of programmers have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or similar field of study. Individual colleges may also offer certificate or associate degree programs in Linux systems administration. Optional product and vendor certifications are also available, as well as those specific to individual programming languages.

Required Skills

Linux programmers should have the ability to administer the manufacturer's systems and work with a variety of programming and scripting languages. Familiarity with cloud computing, networking equipment and virtual computing may be beneficial. Linux programmers should also be team players with good communication and interpersonal skills. Organizational and writing abilities can also be helpful during the documentation process.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for computer programmers in general are expected to decrease by a rate of 7% nationwide between 2016 and 2026. Those who are familiar with C++, Java, and other object-oriented languages may stand out in the job market. Computer programmers, including Linux programmers, made a median annual salary of $84,280 in 2018.

Alternative Career Options

Listed below are some other choices for careers in computers and programming:

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers are usually employed by high-tech manufacturers, where they develop and troubleshoot a variety of cutting-edge circuit boards, processors and other devices and parts. Aspiring professionals usually pursue bachelor's degree programs in computer or electrical engineering; those approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) tend to carry more weight in the field. Based on information provided by the BLS, employment opportunities for computer hardware engineers are expected to increase by just 5% nationwide, or as fast as average, between 2016 and 2026. In May 2017, the median yearly salary for a computer hardware engineer was $115,120.

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts are information technology experts who are responsible for researching and solving hardware and software problems for companies and organizations. Standard industry requirements include a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related technical field; a master's degree in business administration or computer science may be more appropriate for an advanced position. According to the BLS, computer systems analysts can look forward to a 9%, or average increase in jobs nationwide through 2026. As of May 2017, the median annual salary for a computer systems analyst was $88,270.

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