First time accepted submitter ternarybit writes "By 'Linux professional,' I mean anyone in a paid IT position who uses or administers Linux systems on a daily basis. Over the past five years, I've developed an affection for Linux, and use it every day as a freelance IT consultant. I've built a breadth of somewhat intermediate skills, using several distros for everything from everyday desktop use, to building servers from scratch, to performing data recovery. I'm interested in taking my skills to the next level — and making a career out of it — but I'm not sure how best to appeal to prospective employers, or even what to specialize in (I refuse to believe the only option is 'sysadmin,' though I'm certainly not opposed to that). Specifically, I'm interested in what practical steps I can take to build meaningful skills that an employer can verify, and will find valuable. So, what do you do, and how did you get there? How did you conquer the catch-22 of needing experience to get the position that gives you the experience to get the position? Did you get certified, devour books and manpages, apprentice under an expert, some combination of the above, or something else entirely?"