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Old 03-09-2010, 02:06 PM   #1
spoovy
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New career in linux admin?


Hi

Im an urban planner by profession, but have been dumped on my arse by the current recession, after 10 years in the profession. I have been out of work for 6 months now and have had a lot of time to think about new career directions.

I discovered linux last september, having had no real interest in computers before. I have hardly put it down since however, and have just finished my first LFS build. I'm currently getting stuck into BLFS and Slackware, so I would say i've picked it up pretty quickly. So now am wondering about the possibilities of turning it into a career - admin I suppose as I think programming is beyond me.

Is this realistic? I'm based in the UK, and I have no computer-related qualifications. I have a BA in planning, but nothing in maths or science above A level biology.

I have looked at the Red Hat training courses and it looks doable - with a lot of work obviously. So what do people think, is it possible, or would I be wasting my time to pursue it?

Thanks in advace.

Spoov
 
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:30 PM   #2
jamescondron
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Well, strictly speaking anything is possible, though as someone in the UK who is also currently looking for a Linux job, realistically no; not without a much stronger background.

If you have the time to throw into it then good luck, but you'll need a lot of luck, though that could be my bitterness talking. 6months is probably nowhere near long enough, though, to start considering a career change, and I'll tell you why; take a look at all the different binaries and scripts in every directory in your $PATH. Realistically how many do you know of? And thats the simple stuff, there is a lot in such jobs that come from experience.

Stuff like spotting ARP priority management errors, or managing stupid sets of ACLs that your idiot predecessor set? Keeping control of the stuff that if you break at home it means a tinker and a quick search on a forum, but in a critical system needs an immediate fix?

See, the problem is these are usually things you can't teach to the level of instinct, you learn them as you need them and then keep refining them; which makes them hard for these courses to teach. Linux admins usually have years of tinkering behind them before considering these courses, or before going straight into a Linux job, as many of us did.

(Now imagine all of that as I tried to write it, and not as if it was written by a total tosser like it comes across)
 
Old 03-09-2010, 03:49 PM   #3
bret381
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I agree with jamescondron, it is doable, but 6 months in ANY field is not much to be The go to guy for whatever it is you are in. Would you expect to be Senior Planner after 6 months on the job? I am not an admin, so overlook me if you want, but I would say that an entry level administrator working under someone may be possible with a very low pay with a couple of certifications. And if you have the time to do all of this GREAT!! I wish I did. I would love to work on that myself, but don't have the time to devote to it nor the ability to take a huge pay cut. I'm definately not trying to tell you not to pursue it, just set realistic goals for yourself. You may end up working for an IT department as the help desk tech or something. Take it and work your way up. I just don't see you jumping right in as an admin, but with a few years with real world experience... who knows!
 
Old 03-09-2010, 04:52 PM   #4
spoovy
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Cheers guys. For the record bret I certainly wouldn't expect to get an admin job with my current experience I thought I had made that clear. I was thinking about in the future, after a year or so of sustained effort.

Yeah it took me 5 years from uni to get to senior planner, so if I could achieve a similar degree of seniority in any other career in the same amount of time (ie starting now) I would consider it a success. I also accept that I would have to take a massive pay cut from my previous position but I think that goes without saying.

I don't know anyone in the IT industry so it's a complete unknown to me really, though reading some industry bumf I had got the impression that unix/linux was growing pretty fast, and thought there might be an opportunity there. Doesn't sound too positive though from what you say james.
 
Old 03-09-2010, 07:16 PM   #5
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spoovy View Post
Cheers guys. For the record bret I certainly wouldn't expect to get an admin job with my current experience I thought I had made that clear. I was thinking about in the future, after a year or so of sustained effort.

Yeah it took me 5 years from uni to get to senior planner, so if I could achieve a similar degree of seniority in any other career in the same amount of time (ie starting now) I would consider it a success. I also accept that I would have to take a massive pay cut from my previous position but I think that goes without saying.

I don't know anyone in the IT industry so it's a complete unknown to me really, though reading some industry bumf I had got the impression that unix/linux was growing pretty fast, and thought there might be an opportunity there. Doesn't sound too positive though from what you say james.
Don't misunderstand James. I think I know what he's getting at (and please correct me if I'm wrong, James).

In your old profession, I'm sure you dealt with folks who had similar jobs. Some you had respect for, and knew that THEY knew what they were doing too. Some...probably not so much. Although on PAPER they were the same, in real life, they weren't. Same with IT. Some folks 'get it', and believe me, that's recognized VERY quickly. Some don't, even though they have been doing it for years. And there's alot about your old job that you just 'knew'...after stepping in it a few times. No book taught you that, but you learned it after you got on the job. This is no different.

Case in point; I work with two DBA's. One has been in it about 4 years, the other for over 20. The senior person couldn't find her ass with both hands, I don't think. Wondered one time how the SAN could be down, when she could ping the server...after all, she said, SAN is "Storage Area NETWORK". The newer one wound up being her boss, and she does a tremendous job.

IT work can suck mightily at times. Odd hours, in early, out late, nights, weekends, etc. Remember...off times are maintenance times. No one on the server at 3 AM? Perfect, your boss will say...time for you to move it to a different rack, and upgrade the disk. And oh, you'll have to have it back up by 5:30, so we can begin daily processing. And as the junior guy...guess who'll be getting the grunt-work of pulling cables under the floors, and dealing with the problem users??

Last edited by TB0ne; 03-09-2010 at 07:18 PM.
 
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:38 PM   #6
chrism01
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If you've got the time to study (as it seems), then consider getting a Cert if you've got the money for the exam (ideally the course as well). The RedHat RHCT then RHCE certs are fairly well regarded by most people. With no prev experience it's all you've got to offer initially.
Note that these are hands on practicals against the clock with no docs avail apart from man pages... you need to know it well to pass.
Talk to the IT recruitment agencies (google them) for junior admin positions maybe if you get certified.
Maybe setup a website at a hosting company or at home that is publically accessible; incentive then to keep it working and looking good..
 
Old 03-10-2010, 11:52 AM   #7
spoovy
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I have nothing but time to study, but I don't have the money for courses and stuff, being jobless tends to rinse your savings pretty quickly.

I was hoping to learn enough from books to get me some kind of junior role. I'm starting to get the impression though that no matter how much i learnt in this way I would always be one of those guys who doesn't know enough, compared to the proper longtime computer nerd guys (no offence meant to any nerds
 
Old 03-10-2010, 12:16 PM   #8
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spoovy View Post
I have nothing but time to study, but I don't have the money for courses and stuff, being jobless tends to rinse your savings pretty quickly.

I was hoping to learn enough from books to get me some kind of junior role.
You probably can get a junior role somewhere, especially if you have someone who knows you, friend-of-a-friend, sort of thing. It's a tougher climb, but if you can demonstrate your knowledge, talk to other sysadmins, and have some legs to stand on, you've got a better chance.
Quote:
I'm starting to get the impression though that no matter how much i learnt in this way I would always be one of those guys who doesn't know enough, compared to the proper longtime computer nerd guys (no offence meant to any nerds
I disagree, and I don't think you're thinking this through, and giving up too easily. Think about it...when you got out of school, and went for your first job, you were in the same spot you are now. Lots of stuff from books, very little in the 'real world'. After you got there, you learned, and KEPT learning. This is no different.

I've been in IT since the mid-1980's. If you wrote down what I know, it would look impressive...but the same can be said for ANYONE who has been in it as long as I have. There's always more to learn, every day, no matter what. You are going to learn by doing, by exposure, and by making huge "Oh CRAP" sorts of mistakes that keep you at the office for days.

If you are going to be the lazy sort, who feels he'll hit a point where he knows 'enough' to get by...trust me, you'll be better off in another field, as IT already has loads of folks who 'know enough' to squeak by, and aren't interested in learning more. If you are the sort who feels he'll NEVER know enough, and always want to learn the next new trick, system, etc., you'll go far. There is NEVER an 'enough' point.
 
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:38 PM   #9
custangro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
You are going to learn by doing, by exposure, and by making huge "Oh CRAP" sorts of mistakes that keep you at the office for days.
Experience is the best teacher...

Like when I deleted the "bin" directory by accident...that was a fun Sunday night

-C
 
Old 03-10-2010, 12:53 PM   #10
spoovy
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Thanks TBone, I am definately prepared to keep putting in the work, I had to in my old (current?) profession and would expect to again.

So many different opinions in one thread! I will get hold of a couple of IT recruitment people and see what they think. As long as its possible i'll give it a go, I was mainly worried that there would be some kind of insurmountable barrier (like a lack of a computing science degree).

Cheers all.
 
Old 03-10-2010, 01:01 PM   #11
TB0ne
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Originally Posted by custangro View Post
Experience is the best teacher...

Like when I deleted the "bin" directory by accident...that was a fun Sunday night

-C
Hehehe... I had similar 'fun'....accidentally did a "chmod -R 644" from /. That was entertaining too.
 
Old 03-10-2010, 02:48 PM   #12
custangro
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Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
Hehehe... I had similar 'fun'....accidentally did a "chmod -R 644" from /. That was entertaining too.

I've done "chmod 777 /" which isn't as bad...but it was fun trying to figure out what the heck was wrong

-C

Last edited by custangro; 03-10-2010 at 02:49 PM.
 
Old 03-10-2010, 03:11 PM   #13
dunix
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Experience is everything, but remember experience outside IT can be helpful when applied to IT. Having a degree in anything is a ++ (having a degree in CS would be more of a ++). Come up with ways to apply the knowledge you have from your previous career, to your new direction. Selling yourself as someone with world experience, but would still take a junior position, which usually means junior pay means more bang for the buck kinda thing.

This is from an American POV and have no clue of how hiring practices differ (if at all) in the UK.
 
Old 03-10-2010, 06:06 PM   #14
spoovy
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At the moment the hiring practice in the UK seems to be pretty much the same across all industries -

"Don't hire anyone".
 
Old 03-10-2010, 10:23 PM   #15
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...

Last edited by Smartpatrol; 03-11-2010 at 10:11 PM.
 
  


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