Get Linux Certified!
Linux is an OS that conjures up images of computer nerds hunched over their keyboards in the quest for digital divinity while following the doctrine of open source and free software for all. Such evangelistic ideals and hallowed images have often paved the way for computer engineering students to follow certifications such as the Microsoft series or even the vendor-specific RedHat certifications amongst those inclined towards certifying their skills in Linux.
What options does one have?
To be rather precise, the answer is five – CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), LPI (Linux Professional Institute), SAIR Linux, Novell Corporation and Red Hat. If you are wondering whether you should go with “Eeenie Meenie Mynie Mo” to chart your career path, allow me to elaborate and educate you on your options.
The two roads
CompTIA, SAIR and LPI are professional/industry vendor-neutral certification programs. What that means is they are not tied to any particular Linux distribution unlike Red Hat which focuses entirely on its own distribution i.e. it is vendor specific. Similarly Novell’s Linux certification programs focus on the SUSE distribution.
Eenie Meenie Mynie Mo
Yes, sometimes believing in serendipity is a tempting choice but for those of you driven by logic and reason, read on. For those fairly new to Linux, try the ## LPIC Level 1 or ## CompTIA Linux+. Developing strong basics will establish your credentials and form the basis for expanding your resume. These exams are also more affordable than Red Hat certifications and are available through testing networks like Prometric and PearsonVue. Novell Linux certifications are only through Novell Partners. SAIR has been integrated into the Linux Professional Group and is keeping a low profile since. For advanced administrators, Red Hat’s RHCE requires passing a hands-on exam and challenges your technical skills. Though it is vendor specific most of it is true of many other flavors of Linux.
How long will it last?
There is no expiry date or continuing certification requirements for most certifications but the vendor specific ones are also version specific. However upgrading for new versions is not required to retain certification. As for the question of pursuing cutting edge technologies. The basics of Linux will continue to remain on the bleeding edge of technology what with embedded technologies adopting the Linux OS to power their appliances. Many animation studios like Dreamworks run their entire pipeline on Linux.
Do I have to go back to school?
Whether you are an experienced Linux Admin or a newbie gingerly stepping forth into the world of Linux, you will need to prepare. We all often become experts in whatever we use everyday, but the scope of subjects covered in the exam may encompass more than you know. Just reviewing the contents of the syllabus may do it for some but others will need weeks of even months of preparation. Going back to the classroom will provide a systematic and regular disciplined approach to the examination. They also provide hands-on practice and prove to be well worth the expense. Your instructor will also clarify any doubts you may have. However self-study books and on-line resources can do the trick if you are determined and self-disciplined enough to chart your own course through the deep waters.
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