Putting a price on "free"

open source IT examines the data from the September 99 salary charts.
Posted September 15, 1999

Rikki McGinty

open source salary data

Putting a price on "free"

By Rikki McGinty

It wasn't very long ago that all open source development was underground, undervalued, and decidedly uncorporate. If there was Linux play at work, it was not known to those running the business or even the tech department. If you weren't paying intimidating license fees on your software, you weren't exactly fêted for your genius cost saving.

Where are open source positions located?
open source jobs Source: EarthWeb's DICE IT Salary Tracker/September 1999.

However, with big computing names like IBM, Silicon Graphics, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Corel voicing and implementing support for open source software, and others like Sun practically falling all over themselves to get on this new bandwagon, the stigma and anonymity are fading fast. And with Linux-in-a-box retailers like Red Hat making good on Wall Street, it's not a surprise that businesses are beginning to specifically seek out open source geeks to hire.

What is the average salary requiring open source experience?
open source jobs Source: EarthWeb's DICE IT Salary Tracker/September 1999.

So we thought it would be a cool thing to start tracking the evolution of a legitimate open source job market in the U.S. We're kicking off this bimonthly feature with various slices of data culled from EarthWeb's job service DICE. The charts you see here depict nearly 1,300 jobs in the open source field advertised in September on the DICE Web site - which is possibly the number one job board for IT/tech jobs (sorry to be so un-humble).

Even though the general proliferation of open source job ads may not have been surprising, there were some surprises in the data. Who would have thought, for example, that the highest demand for open source pros would be in New York City - not particularly known for software development? Followed by entertainment capitol Los Angeles, and only then by Silicon Valley? Or that Sendmail experience would draw the highest average salary even while it's in the lowest demand?

What open source tech skills are most in demand?
open source jobs Source: Earthweb's DICE IT Salary Tracker/September 1999.

What's not very surprising is that Perl programming accounts for the lion's share of open source criteria posted by recruiters.

Companies have long been specifically demanding Perl scripting skills, far before the open source hype phenomenon burst into public awareness and the corporate market.

What are open source skills worth?
Overall average: $74,000 per year
open source jobs Source: EarthWeb's DICE IT Salary Tracker/September 1999.

I'm very curious about how this ratio will look in future installments of our DICE data blasts. Will the pie pieces start evening out as other open source expertise garners more recognition and appeal?

Look forward to more job data toward the end of the year. Don't hesitate to write with questions and ideas, or with special data requests. We can crunch these numbers to produce all sorts of insight. As Eric Clapton sang so wisely, it's in the way that you use it.ø

Skills Snapshot: LINUX
$42 per hour
Systems administrator
Los Angeles
VP of Engineering & CTO
Los Angeles - $150,000
SKILLS: Networking and Internet Infrastructure; "Linux Guru"
Source: EarthWeb's DICE IT Salary Tracker/September 1999.

Rikki McGinty is the editor of open source IT. Our data charts were compiled by Laurie Souza. Thanks Laurie! :-)

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