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Linux experience and RHCE bring in the big bucks

Looking for a high-paying job in a Linux data center but don't know where to start or what your certification will get you? Not just any certification pays off.

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Linux experience leads to bigger salaries for server admins. But in order to get that experience, you might have to start at the bottom.

What is the best-paying job I can get with a few years of Linux experience on servers? Are certifications important?

Lots of IT shops all over the world deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers. With a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification, you open up a number of employment possibilities -- each with a far higher earning potential than the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA).

The RHCSA proves that a Linux server administrator knows basic tools and command line environments. It also means that they can partition storage, configure file systems and their attributes, configure and maintain software and services and manage users and basic security. By contrast, the RHCE proves that the holder can also handle senior administration tasks. These range from configuring static routes and filtering network packets to setting kernel runtime parameters, reporting on utilization rates, scripting maintenance tasks and configuring more advanced storage and network services.

Considering that the RHCSA is generally looked upon as an entry-level certification, the best option in terms of hiring and earning capacity is to get the RHCE.

RHCE salaries range from $46,000 to $135,000+ (U.S.) for positions such as systems engineer, UNIX administrator and Linux system administrator, but it depends on your location.

However, you forget about the six-figure salary altogether when you're looking only at the RHCSA. Your best bet might be to seek an entry-level system engineer position, stockpile Linux experience and work toward your RHCE certificate. At that point, your earnings potential will skyrocket.

About the author:
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer and avid promoter/user of the Linux OS. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment). Jack maintains his sanity by riding his mountain bike and writing about zombies, various killers, superheroes, and just about everything else he can manipulate between the folds of reality.

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This was first published in August 2014

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