Salary Survey Extra: Linux certification and formal education
Posted on
April 28, 2017

Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do Linux professionals with formal education make more money?

Sometimes when discussions of certification and formal education crop up in the IT realm, it's like the part of your favorite Western movie or TV show where the music stops playing in the saloon and people hustle to get out of the line of fire between two guys whose cold-eyed stares and deadly intent have lowered the temperature of the room several degrees.

The are some close-to-the-surface passions in particular when it comes to the subject of whether certification or formal education provides better professional preparation for day-to-day, real-world workplace success. It doesn't haven to be a one-or-the-other proposition, of course, and our Salary Surveys have generally shown that most certified IT professionals also possess some degree of formal education.

So how much does it help to have education blended in with certification? Could you put a number on that? We can, and we have, and we're about to do it again. For all U.S. Linux professionals who participated in our recent Salary Survey PLUS, the average annual salary without taking education into account is $61,070, while the comparable figure for international respondents is $49,960.

Among all U.S. survey respondents, those who topped out at bachelor's degree have an average annual salary of $64,440, somewhat above the overall average salary. A master's degree provides a considerable bump, pushing the number up to $89,190, while there's a steep dropoff to those who only got as far up the ladder as an associate's (two-year) degree: $43,150. Interestingly, those who didn't attend college but can claim some level of post-high school technical training do considerably better, checking in at $54,480.

Looking outside the United States, almost every Linux professional we heard from has either a bachelor's degree, or has gone one step higher with a master's degree. There are some who successfully enter the field without a four-year college background (or better), but we didn't have enough participation from those folks to create a reliable average. Internationally speaking, you're best off with with a master's degree (average annual salary of $53,390), whereas those with bachelor's degree ($46,210) are more likely to fall short of average income among all Linux professionals.

CELESTIAL SHAKIN': When we get to the Not-So-Serious portion of our surveys, we often like to grapple with the great mysteries of science and philosophy. If a bunch of certified IT professionals can't give some definitive answers to the great mysteries of life, after all, then who can?

So we asked the Linux guys to settle the ancient debate once and for all. How many angels, you know, actually can dance on the head of a pin? Here's what we learned:

I bet Google or Alexa would know. — 28.6 percent
It depends. Are they doing that thing where all of the angels stand in a circle while one angel busts a dope move and then points at someone else? — 9.5 percent
Wouldn't it hurt to dance on pinheads? Is this because there aren't any shoes in the hereafter? — 3.8 percent
Why does it have to be the head of a pin? Aren't there any sicky dank clubs with phat beats in the hereafter? — 1.9 percent
It's not a real question, right? This is one of those medieval exercises in dialectical reasoning. — 21.9 percent
42. — 34.3 percent

Original question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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