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How much education do you need to be a Linux sysadmin?

There's much debate on the topic of education for system administrators, and now you can let us know your opinion.
How much education do you need to be a sysadmin?

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What formal education level do you think should be required for a Linux system administrator?


The topic of education for system administrators has been debated for decades, and there's still no definitive answer. In IT, non-degreed professionals don't suffer the same stigma that they do in other professions, possibly because there's no definitive educational track, professional licensing, or industry certification required for employment. This situation is what causes the controversy and divided opinions on the topic.

On the pro-education front, the argument is that professionals of any type need to have at least an Associate's degree to be competitive in the workplace. On the other hand, there are sysadmins and hiring managers who feel that formal education is optional for IT professionals, including sysadmins.

A recent Enable Sysadmin article by Kevin Casey asks the question, Do I need a college degree to be a sysadmin? I won't spoil his conclusions and findings, but my personal opinion is that all professionals should have a degree, even for entry-level positions. Certainly, this "should" can mean an Associate's degree with the intent of obtaining a Bachelor's degree during job tenure. Many companies provide tuition assistance or complete reimbursement, so there's no reason not to work toward a degree.

Of course, a degree is no guarantee of employment or insulation from layoffs, but it can be a deciding factor in both instances. If you have two sysadmins and one has a degree and the other doesn't, the manager is more likely to retain the degreed individual with all other aspects of the two being equal or comparable. That assertion comes from observations from working in large enterprise organizations for more than twenty years, through dozens of layoff events.

At least until an industry standard is created, I doubt that any educational requirements will ever be set. What currently happens is that educational requirements are company-specific and not job-specific.

Topics:   Career  
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Ken Hess

Ken Hess is an Enable SysAdmin Community Manager and an Enable SysAdmin contributor. Ken has used Red Hat Linux since 1996 and has written ebooks, whitepapers, actual books, thousands of exam review questions, and hundreds of articles on open source and other topics. More about me

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