Christian Trujillo opens his article "Sysadmin careers: overcoming fear and loathing at the keyboard" with the sentence: Sysadmins don't always follow a traditional career path to get to where we are. Isn’t that the truth? I’m not even sure there is a traditional career path for sysadmins. So many of us come into the profession in so many ways.
"Sysadmins don't always follow a traditional career path to get to where we are."
Some of us enter the field as support or help desk technicians. Right out of college, I took my music degree and immediately put it to good use as a wall decoration while I, at the time unknowingly, started on the path to my sysadmin career by working in a help desk role. Gabrielle Taylor did something similar with her neurology education, but fought off multiple hardships along the way, prevailing in the face of events that would have shattered me. Her article "My unusual path to Linux system administration" is inspirational to read.
How does one become a sysadmin? "If you are not able to decide where to start, you can start using Linux and learn by doing," Gourav Sharma advises in "Sysadmin careers: My road to a career in Linux system administration." This advice had a direct impact on Rudra Pratap, who counts Gourav as a mentor in "From a dream to reality: How Linux changed my life."
Gourav’s advice fits my own experiences as well, and an overwhelming majority of the sysadmins I know became sysadmins through hands-on work, learning on the job, or in hobbyist home labs. This seems borne out by the poll in Ken Hess’s article "How much education do you need to be a Linux sysadmin?", though it might be skewed specifically because so many sysadmins currently working have come into the field in this manner.
One thing is clear, though, there is no single right answer to the question "How do I become a sysadmin?" be it focused education, on-the-job training, self-driven experimentation, or some other direction.
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