Unix Engineer Job Description

Unix engineers install and configure physical or virtual servers. They manage system-wide hardware and software for enterprises. This field is ideal for people who like to make systems work and tune processes to improve them. Unix engineers collaboratively work full time in order to maintain the critical data centers and servers that organizations rely on daily. Self-motivated individuals with a friendly demeanor and strong computer hardware skills will find Unix engineering to be an excellent fit.


Unix Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

No two Unix engineering positions are exactly alike, and specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the role:

Manage Unix IT Systems

A Unix engineer works in Unix environments and on Linux operating systems (which are similar). They are responsible for installing, configuring, and optimizing performance of computer hardware systems in enterprise environments. Unix engineers manage operating system technology environments across multiple locations within a single organization.

Build and Install Software

Unix engineers implement software installation and perform upgrades to operating systems with various software packages. Moreover, they build software that automates the configuration and deployment of multiple types of IT core systems.

Troubleshoot Hardware

A significant part of the Unix engineer’s role is troubleshooting and debugging issues that pop up in computer hardware networks, infrastructure, and operating systems. They repair server hardware, perform audits, and ensure systems are working according to established policies and guidelines.

Run Diagnostic System Tests

Testing is a significant part of a Unix engineer’s responsibilities. They actively monitor Unix systems and run diagnostic tests on hardware to identify problems and analyze system faults. These testing phases allow Unix engineers to evaluate the software and systems that they design.

Conduct System Maintenance

Creating accurate baselines for system performance is a task that falls on all Unix engineers. They benchmark performance and develop basic guidelines for reference. Unix engineers detect current and future bottlenecks and craft action plans to correct these issues. Their actions tune-up the performance of a system’s network, CPU, input/output utilization, and memory.


Unix Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Unix engineers are detail-oriented communicators who are proficient with Linux and Unix technologies. A bachelor’s degree in a tech-related field is required, and those with at least three to five years of hands-on experience are typically sought out. Employers also prefer candidates who possess the following abilities:

  • Unix operation – these engineers should have a strong grasp of Unix-based operating system processes, such as paging and swapping, file system concepts, inter-process communication, and variations between virtual and physical systems
  • Engineering – Unix engineers analyze how new technology could benefit their organization, then engineer roadmaps to integrate that technology into existing systems
  • Real-time troubleshooting – fixing hardware and software problems right as they occur is the Unix engineer’s job. They solve real-time challenges with the help of other systems administrators and fellow engineers
  • Technical writing – drafting support documents and updating operations manuals, standard operating procedures (SOPs), life-cycle documentation, and software deployment systems are important tasks for Unix engineers
  • Research leadership – Unix engineers research emerging technology trends and provide recommendations based on predicted business needs. Part of their job is to provide subject matter expertise and overall system health information to leadership, customers, and coworkers
  • Interpersonal skills – since they collaborate in a team environment and must teach and train users through various technology channels, Unix engineers must have strong interpersonal communication skills


Tools of the Trade

Successful Unix engineers are comfortable using the following hardware and software in a typical workday:

  • Unix operating systems (AIX, Linux, Oracle Solaris)
  • Virtual machine technologies (VMware ESXi, vCenter, vSphere, VMotion)
  • Cloud technologies (Red Hat, SuSE, OpenShift, Amazon Web Services, Mesos, Azure/Azure pack)
  • IT systems management tools (SUN Solaris, IBM AIX, Linux administration)
  • Webserver administration tools (Apache)


Unix Engineer Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, IT infrastructure, or a similar discipline is required for most Unix engineer positions. Many employers prefer candidates to have advanced enterprise-level Linux certifications such as Red Hat. At least three years of experience operating physical and virtual Unix or Linux systems is also preferred.


Unix Engineer Salary and Outlook

The national median salary for Unix engineers is $115,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent of workers in this field earn less than $66,290. The highest 10 percent earn upwards of $176,900. The BLS predicts the growth rate of Unix engineering jobs will be 5 percent through 2026, which is approximately as fast as average for all jobs.

Most Unix engineering positions are full time, and many employers provide comprehensive benefits such as medical insurance, vision insurance, and 401(k) plans.


Helpful Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a Unix engineer, check out the additional resources we compiled below:

Unix Engineer RED-HOT Career Guide – this guide, full of smart interview questions and job-search advice, will prepare you to successfully land a Unix engineering job

UNIX Tutorial for Beginners – this beginner’s guide features eight straightforward tutorials that cover the basics of Unix and Linux commands used by Unix engineers every day

Unix in a Nutshell – this best-selling Unix reference guide provides up-to-date examples and commands for Unix engineers, programmers, and enthusiasts

Red Hat Certified System Administrator & Engineer – this training guide prepares aspiring Unix engineers to pass the Red Hat® Enterprise Linux 6 and Red Hat Certified Engineer (EX300) exams, which are desirable certifications for many potential employers


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