Linux is a standard in modern enterprise and cloud computing. It is long past the time when early adopters were forced to risk their jobs by choosing Linux over UNIX or Microsoft Windows servers. Administrators have many options when it comes to Linux server distributions that are enterprise-ready, such as Red Hat, SUSE and Kali. (All of these *nix flavors, and many more, are covered in our Linux tutorial.
Linux is not only found in data centers. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and many other platforms use Linux extensively. They also support a wide range of Linux machine instances. For penetration testing and ethical hacking, cybersecurity professionals prefer Linux.
It’s no surprise that Linux certifications are a popular choice for IT professionals. But are Linux certifications worth the effort? And which ones should you pursue instead? We’ll dive in and give you insight into Linux certs and how they can be of value.
What Linux Certifications are There?
There are two types of Linux certifications: those that are not related to the Linux distribution and those that are related. CompTIA, the Linux Foundation and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) offer independent certifications.
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Start trainingLPI offers well-known certifications in Linux Administrators (LPIC-1), Linux Engineers (2LPIC-2), or Linux Enterprise Professionals (3LPIC-3). CompTIA offers the CompTIA Linux+ sysadmin certification. The Linux Foundation offers certifications for sysadmins and Linux engineers (LFCS).
On the product side, we see certifications from Linux=centric vendors, including:
Red Hat: Red Hat: Sysadmin (RHCSA), engineer, and architect (RHCE).
SUSE: Sysadmin (SCA), engineer, and architect (SEA).
Oracle: Linux 5 and 6 sysadmins (OCA), and Linux 6 professional sysadmins (OCP).
Aside from mainline Linux, there is also a wide range of certifications available in the super-hot cybersecurity field. The GIAC Certified UNIX System Administrator cert (GCUX), focuses on auditing and securing Linux and UNIX systems.
For cybersecurity professionals, there are two certifications: the Kali Linux Certified Professional (OSCP), and the Offensive Security Certified Professionals (OSCP).
If you are interested in learning more about Linux/Open Source certifications, please take a look to our Complete Open Source Certification Guide.
What is the job outlook for Linux professionals?
According to a 2018 Linux Foundation report, there is a strong demand for Linux-skilled IT professionals. A December 2019 Indeed.com search revealed over 60,000 US job opportunities that included Linux skills. But is this a demand that will lead to a demand for Linux certifications in the future?
Our initial enthusiasm for Linux is dampened by our first searches to find 60,000 job openings. Searches for LPI or Linux Foundation certifications did not return more than 250 open positions that required these credentials. Similar results were found for SUSE and Oracle certifications.
Red Hat certifications are the only ones that provide more credentialed opportunities. RHCE: 720; RHCSA: 555; RHCE: 7720; RHCA: 112); however, even here, they represent a small percentage of all Linux opportunities.
Why is it that so few Linux jobs require Linux certification? According to various online forums, a likely reason is that hiring companies prefer peer interviews to verify a candidate’s Linux proficiency.
According to our Complete Open Source Certification Guide employers are willing to pay higher salaries to Red Hat-certified professionals than for those with generic Linux certs (LPI, Linux Fo).