Land your first OpenStack job with these tips on how to navigate OpenStack resources to solve problems, improve your functional understanding of OpenStack basics and more!

The hardest part of pivoting your career is proving that you are qualified in your new focus area. To land your first OpenStack job, you’ll want to prove you have a functional understanding of OpenStack basics, can navigate the resources to solve problems and have recognized competency in your focus area.

“A functional understanding of OpenStack” means you know how to work in OpenStack––not just naming the projects in alphabetical order or giving an overview of its history. While you’ll want to read up on its origins and future roadmap, you’ll also want to jump in by using tools like DevStack or TryStack to explore.

Many people find find courses and training helpful for gaining that “functional understanding.” Some take training because they want to get up to speed quicker than they would on their own; some because they want to make sure they correctly learn the nuances of OpenStack; some because their learning styles are more accustomed to a classroom environment. Whatever the reason, there’s no shortage of OpenStack courses. You can visit the OpenStack Training Marketplace to scroll through courses and pick from online, in-person, self-paced, or designated hour courses. Course levels range from beginner to advanced. Stacker Tip: Trainings and workshops are included in full access passes at the OpenStack Summit. You can grab a remaining spot at OpenStack Summit Barcelona, or keep an eye out for early bird pricing to OpenStack Summit Boston in the upcoming months for the ultimate savings.

The additional areas you’ll want to show competency in will depend on your focus. If you’re a developer, be ready to demonstrate your Python skills and show your knowledge of orchestration tools like Ansible or Puppet. Participating in OpenStack code reviews is a great way to get involved in the community and display your abilities.

For administrators, the Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) exam should be your first step. Developers shouldn’t write off admin certification though; in both cases, passing the COA proves you have mastery of the two standard client sets (Horizon and the command line client) and an understanding of the system you’re working on. Whether you’re self-taught or took a course, you’ll want to have your skills evaluated against a standardized set of criteria that’s recognizable to employers. Certification signals to employers where your skill level is, and shows that you’re ready to work on OpenStack professionally.

The COA exam is the only certification offered by the OpenStack Foundation. The exam was created through the collaboration of a variety of ecosystem companies. What this means is that someone who has passed the COA can work on OpenStack with any organization regardless of the distribution they’ve chosen as opposed to vendor-provided certifications which test skills around their OpenStack service offering.

The COA is a functional, task-based test, rather than multiple choice where candidates are asked to perform tasks frequently seen in a professional administrator role. It mirrors a real-world work environment in which you are tasked with solving a problem, using documentation and other resources to find answers, and creating an effective solution.

You can review the areas covered on the COA to determine if you’re ready. If you’re unsure about your preparation, there are training partners who specialize in preparing people for the COA. Look for the COA logo in the lower right hand corner of listings in the OpenStack Training Marketplace.

The OpenStack community is continuing to grow, evolve and help users create solutions powered by open source. There’s plenty of space for everyone at the OpenStack table, and no shortage of professional options. We encourage to visit openstack.org/join to find out more ways to get involved, and follow us on Twitter at @OpenStack.

Want to learn the basics of OpenStack? Take the new, free online course from The Linux Foundation and EdX. Register Now!

The OpenStack Summit is the most important gathering of IT leaders, telco operators, cloud administrators, app developers and OpenStack contributors building the future of cloud computing. Hear business cases and operational experience directly from users, learn about new products in the ecosystem and build your skills at OpenStack Summit in Boston, May 8-11. Register Now!

This post first appeared on the Linux blog. Superuser is always interested in community content, email: [email protected]

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