ThorstenSchmitt - Fotolia
Linux certifications present an interesting mix of distribution- and brand-agnostic credentials, as well as vendor-specific ones. Many of these offerings provide data center professionals with defined pathways to learn, use and master Linux OS management, features and potential Linux use cases.
Other programs are more ad hoc and specific to certain IT roles, such as systems engineers or IT administrators, but they go beyond self-taught curriculums and forums. Each program includes coursework and an exam. Depending on the certification, admins can buy everything as a bundle or pay separately for study materials and exams.
Linux Professional Institute Administrator
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) is the largest provider of Linux certifications. LPI certifications are vendor-independent and distribution-neutral. This gives admins the flexibility to use their skills across multiple Linux distributions and work on different data center configurations.
LPIC-1 Certified Linux Administrator: This level of Linux certification provides training on basic maintenance, installation, configuration and networking tasks.
LPIC-2 Certified Linux Engineer: This certification targets admins who administer mixed networks for small to midsize organizations. It includes training on advanced system administration and network management, installation and configuration. It also provides training on how to advise management on data center processes, automation and purchases.
LPIC-3 Enterprise Professional Mixed Environment: Designed for the enterprise-level Linux professional, this certification targets three specializations: mixed environment administration, management, installation and configuration; security-related concerns for mixed environments; and virtualization.
These certifications are valid for five years, and each course is priced at $200 per exam.
Linux Foundation Certifications: LFCS and LFCE
The Linux Foundation provides several certifications that are distribution-neutral so that data center pros can use these skills across any Linux distribution. All exams are performance-based and simulate on-the-job tasks and scenarios any admin would face.
Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin (LFCS): This Linux certification provides the groundwork for all other Linux Foundation programs and validates any admins' ability to perform basic maintenance, installation, configuration and networking tasks in Linux enterprise implementations.
Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE): Designed for a Linux user with at least three to five years of experience, this certification teaches networking and storage management with a focus on system design and deployment.
The certifications are valid for three years, and each exam is priced at around $299.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux: RHCSA and RHCE
Red Hat has several certifications for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) server admins. Each course is designed to give admins the knowledge and training they need to handle RHEL deployments.
Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA): This is the entry point for any Red Hat certification program and covers basic maintenance, installation, configuration and networking tasks on RHEL.
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE): This certification takes RHEL skills to the next level, where admins can learn all about Red Hat-specific automation tools, emerging technologies and how to deploy them in an RHEL environment.
Each certification is valid for three years, and exams cost $400 each.
CompTIA's Linux+ certification covers the basic skills for major Linux distributions, such as RHEL and Ubuntu. This course provides training on the basics of the Linux command line, general maintenance, OS installation, and workstation configuration and networking.
The most recently released version of the CompTIA Linux+ certification also covers basic DevOps concepts, kernel modules, SELinux and multiserver management.
This certification is valid for three years, and the exam is priced at $319.
GIAC Certified Unix Security Administrator (GCUX)
Offered by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) organization, the GCUX validates a person's skills and knowledge of securing Linux and Unix systems.
It covers everything admins must know about Linux application security and digital forensics. This certification is particularly useful for admins interested in Linux security, incident response and information security analysis.
This certification is valid for four years and is $1,999.