5 Linux Career Paths to Pursue in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Delve into five in-demand Linux job roles, gaining insights into the specific skills, qualifications, and experience required for each role.

[Featured image] A man sits at a laptop in his home and explores a potential Linux career path for his future.

Popular operating systems (OS), like Windows and macOS, Linux are woven into various aspects of daily life, from cars and smartphones to the world’s biggest stock exchanges. Being open source, Linux sees continuous improvement through the collaborative efforts of professional and self-taught programmers and developers, who contribute by adding new features and fixing bugs as they arise. 

Jobs associated with Linux are also on the ascent. In a joint survey conducted by the Linux Foundation and edX in 2022, 73 percent of open-source hiring managers identified cloud and container skills as the foremost factor influencing candidate selection, with knowledge about Linux following closely at 66 percent [1]. 

Read on to learn about five popular Linux-based jobs and pathways for beginning your career in this field. 

Read more: How to Learn Linux for Your Career: A Beginner's Guide

How to learn Linux as a beginner 

A degree in information technology, computer science, cloud computing, or information assurance can provide you with foundational knowledge of Linux. That said, practical experience is important to securing employment. 

To start, install a Linux distribution on your Windows or macOS computer. While many Linux versions or distributions exist, familiarity with commonly used enterprise ones, such as Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), can greatly improve your job prospects.  

Should you prefer a structured learning experience, consider enrolling in online Linux courses offered by The Linux Foundation (LF), a nonprofit consortium geared toward Linux and collaborative software development. The courses are free of cost and feature hands-on labs and assignments to help you level up your Linux skills. 

Read more: Linux Skills (+ How to Add Them to Your Resume)

As a Linux professional, you can pursue various jobs, including systems administrator, DevOps engineer, backend or frontend developer, and more. Here are five careers that become accessible once you’ve established your foundational Linux skills:

1. Linux engineer

Average annual US base salary: $105,692 [2

Requirements: You’ll likely need a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field, coupled with internship experience or relevant work exposure.

As a Linux engineer, you’ll manage systems that run on Linux servers. You may also supervise the installation of servers or the migration of hardware from other operating systems to Linux. Furthermore, you will generate, uphold, and resolve issues with Linux instances across various networks. 

Career trail: You may start as a systems or Linux administrator before becoming a Linux engineer. Thereafter, you are likely to progress into DevOps engineer, build-release engineer, or senior Linux engineer positions. Note that as an entry-level Linux engineer, it might take you at least two years to advance to the next senior-level job position.

2. Linux cloud engineer 

Average annual US base salary: $125,131 [3

Requirements: You’ll likely need a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, information systems and technology, or equivalent work experience. Certain employers may favor candidates with a master's degree. 

Your work duties as a Linux cloud engineer include designing, overseeing, and maintaining cloud computing applications. You might also assess old or legacy systems’ suitability for cloud migration and facilitate the backup and recovery of essential cloud resources. 

Career trail: Three to five years of hands-on experience with cloud services is a common requirement for cloud engineering job roles. As a Linux cloud engineer, you may specialize in AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Subsequently, you may take on a solutions or cloud architect position. Cloud computing certifications from Microsoft, Google, or AWS, including pertinent DevOps, Terraform, and Kubernetes certifications, can enhance your career advancement and promotion chances. 

Read more: Information Systems vs. Information Technology (IS vs. IT)

3. Linux systems administrator 

Average annual US base salary: $95,348 [4

Requirements: You’ll likely need an associate or bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, or a closely related field, along with relevant certifications.

As a Linux systems administrator, you’ll work towards ensuring Linux operating systems perform optimally at all times. This entails tracking system performance, conducting maintenance checks, and troubleshooting issues. Taking regular data backups and implementing disaster recovery plans in the event of a breach are among your other common job duties.

Career trail: Typically, the Linux systems administrator position requires at least two to four years of professional experience. Entry-level positions such as IT technician and help desk specialist can help you attain the necessary experience. As you advance in your career, you may secure the IT operations manager or infrastructure project manager role. 

4. Linux systems analyst 

Average annual US base salary: $105,125 [5]

Requirements: You might need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field and potentially some internship or work experience. 

As a Linux systems analyst, you will implement and provide support for firms’ IT and information systems. Besides documenting system processes, you may improve system performance and scalability by utilizing industry best practices. You will also formulate test cases for quality assurance. 

Career trail: You may work as a software engineer or programmer analyst before progressing to the role of a Linux systems analyst. Advancing from entry-level to a senior Linux systems analyst position can take up to two years. A master’s degree, sufficient work experience, and relevant certifications can make way for executive-level positions such as systems engineering or infrastructure project manager.

5. Linux developer

Average annual US base salary: $96,314 [6]

Requirements: You’ll likely need an associate or bachelor's degree in computer programming. For some employers, practical experience and pertinent certifications may precede a formal degree.

The Linux developer role puts you in charge of creating software for the Linux OS and its distributions from the ground up. You'll use programming languages such as C and Python for coding and Bash as a scripting language for automating tasks on Linux systems. You may also utilize container technologies like Docker and Kubernetes to package and deploy applications. 

Career trail: An entry-level developer typically has two to four years of professional experience. If you’re a beginner, application support or software engineering can help you progress into Linux development. As you advance in your career, you might secure Linux automation roles.

Linux certifications for advancing your career 

Linux certifications prove your skills and expertise in handling Linux systems, boosting your credibility and appeal to potential employers. Depending on your current experience and career goals, the following are some certifications you can target.

1. CompTIA Linux+

Suitable for: Entry-level Linux engineers 

Exam cost: $369 [7

Tailored for junior systems administrators, the CompTIA Linux+ certification verifies Linux support skills. Specifically, the exam assesses your comprehension of Linux distributions, delving into subjects like file systems, command line usage, and shell scripting. Being vendor-neutral, the Linux+ certification has no affiliation with a product or company, allowing the skills you gain to be universally applicable.

2. Red Hat Certified System Administrator

Suitable for: Experienced Linux system administrators, experienced Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators, DevOps professionals seeking to specialize in container technology, Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), and students who previously enrolled in Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134) courses

Exam cost: $500 [8]

A vendor-specific certification, Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) verifies your system administration skills within Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments. It’s worth noting that the assessed skills form the basis for system administration across the entire suite of Red Hat products. The RHCSA is ideal if you are currently working with or planning to work with Red Hat technologies.

3. Linux Professional Institute LPIC-1

Suitable for: All Linux enthusiasts, regardless of experience 

Exam cost: $120 or 200 [9]

LPIC-1 marks the first milestone in the Linux Professional Institute's (LPI) multi-level professional certification program. Achieving LPIC-1 affirms your proficiency in performing maintenance tasks through the command line, setting up basic networking configurations, and installing Linux-based systems. LPIC-1, like Linux+, is vendor-neutral. 

Learn more with Coursera. 

From cloud computing to DevOps and network administration, Linux underpins several IT disciplines, allowing for various job pursuits. Begin your Linux journey today with IBM’s Hands-on Introduction to Linux Commands and Shell Scripting course, available on Coursera. Intended for beginners, this course can acquaint you with Linux / UNIX shell commands and Bash shell scripting. Upon completion, gain a shareable Professional Certificate to include in your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile.

Article sources


The Linux Foundation. “Open Source Jobs Report 2022,  https://8112310.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/8112310/LF Research/Open Source Jobs Report 2022 - Report.pdf.” Accessed on March 15, 2024.

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