Six Hot Linux Certifications for 2018

The Cloud is changing everything. Like a giant vacuum, cloud computing is sucking up the IT industry and Linux, in all its forms, is riding the wave. The Linux footprint continues to expand — more than 80 percent of the market now relies on Linux in some form or fashion — and demand for Linux-trained professionals is at an all-time high

 

Big Data is the highest growth market for the Linux Platform because it relies on Linux and its proficient operation to be able to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. In 2018, even more companies will capitalize on this high-growth market by offering certifications.

 

The industry leader in the arena is Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions. Red Hat has a great business strategy. It’s like the water company — they bundle a free resource and sell it to the consumer.

 

As with the water company, the consumer only needs to go to the seller to receive support and the “throat to choke” model applies. As a household name in the IT community, Red Hat holds the top three slots for Linux related certifications — the ones employers regularly look for in potential candidates.

 

First up is the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA). Although not Unique, RHCSA is at the heart of all the other certifications listed below. It also must be completed prior to attempting the others. Employers have come to expect RHCSA certification and certified individuals can anticipate an average annual salary of six figures. Better still, there is currently no shortage of open positions requiring an RHCSA — a quick online search found more than 400.

 

A great follow-up to the RHCSA is the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE). Recently, the RHCE has experienced a resurgence thanks to a mandate by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Directive 8570. According to the government’s web site, “8570 provides guidance and procedures for the training, certification, and management of the DoD workforce conducting Information Assurance functions in assigned duty positions. It also provides guidance on reporting metrics.”

 

RHCE is impactful due to its specialized focus on administration and network engineering via Linux. Employers really like this certification because it validates that a potential employee has all the skills needed to administer their systems. While U.S. government agencies already require it, private companies are following suit and eagerly looking for RHCEs.

 

Per Red Hat, RHCEs are capable of the following specialized skill sets:

 

● Configuring static routes, packet filtering, and network address translation
● Setting kernel runtime parameters
● Configuring an Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) initiator
● Producing and delivering reports on system utilization
● Using shell scripting to automate system maintenance tasks
● Configuring system logging, including remote logging
● Configuring a system to provide networking services, including HTTP/HTTPS, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), network file system (NFS), server message block (SMB), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), secure shell (SSH) and Network Time Protocol (NTP)

 

As mentioned above, you need the RHCSA to pursue the RHCE, but once added to your resume, an RHCE will command an approximate annual salary of $140,000. Demand is high as well, with currently more than 1,500 online jobs postings.

 

Rounding out the Red Hat triumvirate is the Red Hat Cloud Architect (RHCA). This certification identifies an RHCE who has also achieved a cloud concentration. My recent online query of IT job boards revealed more than 2,000 employers seeking RHCA certified individuals, with a top annual salary of $160,000. The RHCA is also listed on the government’s DOD requirement.

 

Earning this credential isn’t for the faint of heart. Candidates must first have their RHCE and then pass any five of the following exams:

 

● EX210 – Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack exam
● EX220 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Management exam
● EX236 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Storage exam
● EX280 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform-as-a-Service exam
● EX310 – Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack
● EX318 – Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator exam
● EX403 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Deployment and Systems Management exam
● EX405 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Configuration Management with Puppet
● EX407 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Ansible Automation

 

You will really have to dive deeply into Linux to earn an RHCA, but what if you want to start out small and slowly dip your toe into the Linux water? Maybe you just want a certification that is broad, not company or platform specific and isn’t too expensive?

In that case, you could go after the CompTIA Linux+. Employers seem to really like this certification. Another quick perusal of job boards brought up 5,000 plus open positions with an average starting salary around $77,000.

 

The nice thing about Linux+ is that it isn’t tied to a specific platform, and achieving it requires passing just two exams, the LXO-103 and 104, respectively. Each exam measures your skills in basic Linux, from commands to networking and once these tests are passed, you can concentrate on pursuing some higher-level credentials.

 

The SUSE Enterprise Engineer (SCE) in Enterprise Linux is a nice “next step” after Linux+. It validates a high degree of operational skill in the day-to-day administration and configuration of Enterprise Linux. While this specific certification doesn’t have a huge presence on job boards, it does command an annually salary range of $100,000 to $140,000 depending on experience and locale.

 

The exam is practicum based; you will have to perform several tasks, typically five or six, within two-and-a-half hours.

 

The SCE is a great step, and required for this next certification, the SUSE Enterprise Architect or (SEA). In addition to what you mastered with the SCE, the SEA adds a healthy dose of cloud technology. Achieving it requires you to pass six separate exams. (For more information on the exams, click here.)

 

Fortunately, there are a lot of employers looking for individuals with an SEA. I found more than 11,000 open positions referencing skills covered by this certification — it’s easy to see why the average annual salary exceeds $100,000.

 

An SEA is valued for its unique ability to cover any landscape and skill set requirement and touch on any platform. Employers are eager to talk to anyone that has had the perseverance to achieve this certification and greatly value that skills that a person would picked up doing so.

 

As migration to the cloud continues, 2018 promises ample career prospects and solid salaries for Linux certified IT pros. This is a good time to explore your possibilities. As always, good luck and happy certifying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nathan Kimpel PhotoNathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills include finance, ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.
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