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Windows Admin to Unix Admin

Windows Admin to Unix Admin

Windows Admin to Unix Admin

I'm looking a bit of advice on a job offer I've been made.
I'm currently a Microsoft Windows Administrator, with good experience in this and also in Novell.
I've just been offered a job to re-train as a UNIX Administrator.
I'm not sure whether to take it or not.  It's more salary, and I was thinking if I had Windows, Novell and UNIX skills I would be very employable.
I'm just concerned that I make the correct choice, i.e. is UNIX more specialised, and would this be a big career change i.e. how different would the career path of a Windows Systems Admin be to that of a UNIX Systems Admin?
Anyone any advice?
Thanks for reading.

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

First off, let me say that I'm not an administrator of *nix or Windows.  I've encountered similar situations in my field as a software engineer.  I see some great opportunity, in a programming language that I'm not trained in.  Sure all the concepts are the same, but I'd need to take the time to learn the new language.  I think switching from windows to *nix would be similar.  The job duties would be about the same, but exactly what you had to do to get them done would be different enough that you'd have to relearn it.

For what its worth, I have yet to learn a new language to get a job.  I only learn a new one when I want to or learn just enough to finish a task at my current job.

I cannot be bought.  Find leasing information at http://www.joshaxtell.com/

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

I can't say anything as to the possible difference in career paths of Windows vs UNIX, but just in general terms, I suppose I'd weigh everything out, and determine what is most/least important and all of that...

                           Curr Windows           New UNIX
                          -------------        -------------
Money                                                X
New Experience                                       X
Personal Life                  ?                     ?
Job Stress                     ?                     ?
Career Future                  ?                     ?
CoWorkers                      ?                     ?
Overall Work Environment       ?                     ?

Anyway, if it were me, I'd lay things out like that, perhaps even decide on which things are more important.  I know I've turned down higher paying jobs with possibly better career paths (or so it seemed at the time) because I knew they would increase my stress levels, which would also probably require higher health costs, and thus negate any benefit in the pay difference.  Career-wise, what I THOUGH would have been better moves, may very well have turned out worse, given the state of the economy over the past couple years.

Anyway, that's just some general thoughts of how I look at things.  Of course, I do primarily try to look at what the Lord's will for my life is, and that part outweighs all else for me.  It may or may not be relevant to you, as that's a more personal thing, I suppose.

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

Mmmm.  I'm not sure I agree.

Ask yourself this: would you be willing to go from a Windows server admin to a Mac server admin?  Or from Windows admin to AS/400 admin?

I have been running *nix since 1985, and I have an AS/400 as well.  So I wouldn't have a problem going from one environment to another, or even a mixed environment.

But I will say that my AS/400 experience started as a trial by fire.  A company I have consulted for for years said "We're getting a new Mainframe (AS/400), and we need you to come in, set it up, get it on the network, and set up a half-dozen workstations so that Jack Henry (banking software company) can come in and migrate our data".

I did it, but only with a LOT of help from Google at the time.  (I actually had the most pertinent AS/400 commands on my Palm device so I could cross-reference them).

I would not be comfortable, for example, if someone said to me "We have all Solaris boxes, and we need a solaris administrator."

Jumping from Windows to *Nix is *not* something that you would just "pick up on the way".


Just my 2¢

"What the captain doesn't realize is that we've secretly replaced his Dilithium Crystals with new Folger's Crystals."

--Greg  http://parallel.tzo.com

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

Oh yeah - one I left off my list of things to consider - Job Security.  Other than career path (possibilities for improvement), in our day particularly, I'd like to have as good a feel on the job security levels as possible.

And specifically, thinking on what gbaugma pointed out, if you DO take the new job, how lenient are they going to be (can they be) in regards to you making a few mistakes along the way - after all, you're learning something new, so the chances of error are much higher than if you were a seasoned professional in that area.

Just keep in mind that each OS is its own little world to itself.  Sure, there are some things similar/just alike, but there are going to be TONS of differences.  Depending upon your personality, this could also lead to more stress, and it could also take away from your personal/family life, due to trying to do extra study/self-testing to better ramp up to speed.

Of course, if the new employer is able and willing to give you some leeway, and/or you've got someone else there who will be doing the same or similar job, and they'd be willing to offer assistance/advice fairly often in the early stages, then who knows - it could be an opportunity of a lifetime.

Also, I suppose, think hard about this - how much do you REALLY WANT to learn new technology?  Oftentimes, with some things in life, I think I've THOUGHT I wanted to learn something more than I really did.

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin


I've just been offered a job to re-train as a UNIX Administrator.
Are they offering to pay to send you to formal training or just giving you time to self-train?  As kjv1611 asked, will you have someone there to back you up or cover the transition, or will you be jumping right into the deep end?

Are they similar sized operations?  If you are moving from a small/medium shop to a large shop or vice-versa, there will be a lot more to learn than just the OS.

In general, yes, you will be more employable by picking up another skill, but there is a lot more to consider.

It's never too early to begin preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day
"The software I buy sucks,  The software I write sucks.  It's time to give up and have a beer..." - Me

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

As one who did the "trial by fire" route to unix administration I would advocate going for it. The systems are more stable and that removes a lot of stress.
The job is the same on both types of systems but you don't have the OS patch craziness with UNIX.

Ed Fair
Give the wrong symptoms, get the wrong solutions.

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

kjv1611 made some excellent points. There are lots of things to consider when changing jobs. Most of them have nothing to do with money.

How exactly do people in this industry convince people to train them in new skills? I would love to have an opportunity like this: "We know you don't have experience in this, but we'll train you."

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

Speaking as a consultant who works pretty much exclusively on the Microsoft solutions stack, if someone offered to me a job as a Unix admin AND was going to pay me more than I make now AND was willing to send me to training as well, I'd jump at the chance.  Learning something new will only make you more marketable.

Microsoft skills are often times viewed as a commodity (though they're not, because good Windows admins are still rare).  But Unix skills are niche enough that people who have them come with a nice little pay/price premium.

What flavor were they going to train you on?  Solaris?  HP-UX?  AIX?  I know Solaris is losing marketshare due to Oracle, and HP-UX is a dying skill set, but if you can get training on AIX and a job doing it you'll be in really good shape.

CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCTS:System Center Virtual Machine Manager
MCTS:Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator  

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

If they're going to train you and pay you more, the only downside might be the company, itself. Be sure to check it out.

I'd probably go for it, all else being equal (which it never is). smile

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Kierkegaard

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

thanks to everyone who has posted.  i really appreciate the advice.

regarding what flavour of Unix it will be, i'm not sure.

the company is providing 3 weeks training before i start actually administering anything.  the new company is much larger than my current employer, so there is more room for career progression.

being a larger employer, they also have many other IT "areas" so i can also apply for other jobs in the likes of Oracle, or back again to a Windows environment etc.

my aim is to learn and gain experience in Unix, coupled with Pearl and SQL.  after this i hope to learn Oracle, which i have been self teaching at the minute.  basically all the Oracle jobs in my area have  been wanting several years experience (which i dont have.)

there is also a lack of Oracle developers so the  salaries for such jobs are great.  eventually that's where i'd like to end up.

the new company is probably the only company in my area that would accept "lower level" Oracle skills so my idea was to get in, prove myself and look out for other opportunities that let me learn new skills.

the new company is also offering a perm role (im currently contracting), flexi-time and around $375-$400 per month more.

so im seriously considering it.  thanks for everyone who replied, it was very  much appreciated.  thanks


RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

In what area do you live?

I cannot be bought.  Find leasing information at http://www.joshaxtell.com/

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin


i actually live in the UK.  (I thought all you guys were USA based so i put in $ in my last post.)

the company that offered me the job are a US company, with an office in the UK.

hopefully i'll come to the US sometime too, but that's another story. :)  

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin

*Sigh* I wish I could find a job like that.  But where I live, IT jobs are few and far-between... I guess I'm lucky to be working.

Just my 2¢

"What the captain doesn't realize is that we've secretly replaced his Dilithium Crystals with new Folger's Crystals."

--Greg  http://parallel.tzo.com

RE: Windows Admin to Unix Admin


Based on all the stuff you added in your last post, I'd say this job offering for many of us would seem a dream come true, and a once in a lifetime kind of chance.

Also, you mention going from contract to full-time?  That in itself would be worth the switch, I think.  Job security (particularly in the past couple years) has not been something to take lightly by all means!

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