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Getting Your Red Hat Certifications for Linux Professionals

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/9/2011

Red Hat certification is among the most reputed and popular Linux certification exams, recognized worldwide by enterprises world wide as a credible assessment of a person's competencies in Linux. Red Hat offers various certifications, each one relevant for specific needs.

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    Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

    Linux Red Hat Certifications The Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), previously known as Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) examination is a hands on exam lasting three hours, geared to testing the candidate's actual competence on live systems. Most organizations consider this certification as the basic entry-level qualification for Linux.

    The shift from RHCT to RHCSA is more than a change of nomenclature. It is an attempt to align the certification to the common tasks which most Linux administrators do around the globe. By acquiring RHCSA certification, candidates demonstrate their competence to handle the most frequent and critical tasks required of Linux system administrators.

    The RHCSA examination is stand alone and does not require the candidate to undertake any course before appearing in the examination as long as they have the required skills. Candidates lacking in the necessary skills would do well to take the Red Hat System Administration I and II, a two-course track, before appearing for RHCSA. Candidates with absolutely no background may find it necessary to start with Red Hat Linux Essentials before working their way up. These courses focus on practical hands on lab experience more than theoretical indoctrination. Read on for the best Linux training sites for beginners.

    Such courses notwithstanding, Red Hat advises that a real world system administration experience is an important aspect of preparation and studying; candidates would most likely fail without such experience. Red Hat considers working with a Linux System administrator as sufficient background for attempting RHCSA.

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    Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

    The Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) examination ranks as the most popular Linux certification. The industry considers this certification as proof of ability to configure networking services and security on Red Hat OS based servers.

    The basic requirement to appear for the RHCE exam is RHCSA certification. Undertaking Red Hat Rapid System Administration course I, II and III would aid preparation. The RedHat website recommends a clear training path for people from different streams before undertaking this examination.

    The exam lasts for two hours, and is hands-on, performance-oriented.

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    Red Hat Certified Datacenter Specialist (RHCDS)

    A Red Hat Certified DataCenter Specialist (RHCDS) certification is acknowledgement of a candidate's competence to build reliable, scalable, and manageable solutions in mission-critical data center environments.

    RHCDS certification is open to current RHCE's. The certification requires passing a minimum of three separate expertise exams, from:

    1. Deployment, Virtualization, and Systems Management
    2. Clustering and Storage Management
    3. Directory Services and Authentication or Enterprise Virtualization

    The courses that precede the expertise exams, which are not compulsory but highly recommended, builds on the system administration skills covered in the RHCE, and involves four days of hands-on training. The exams are performance-based, testing the skills of the job role competencies covered in the four days of hands-on training of the course.The exams vary in length from 4 to 8 hours depending on the course.

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    Red Hat Certified Security Specialist (RHCSS)

    Red Hat Certified Security Specialist (RHCSS) like RHCDS is a certificate of expertise, denoting the candidate as possessing advanced skills to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SELinux, and Red Hat Directory Server to meet the security requirements of the contemporary enterprise environment.

    The certificate is open for current RHCEs, and requires the candidate to pass three expertise exams that build on the RHCE program:

    1. Enterprise Security: Network Services
    2. Enterprise Directory Services and Authentication
    3. SELinux Policy Administration

    Four day courses that focus on curriculum based hands-on training precede each of these 4 to 8 hour performance based exams. Such courses are optional but highly recommended.

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    Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA)

    Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA) is one of Red Hat's many performance based certifications that builds on the RHCE. This hands on half day exam is a proven test of the candidate's competence to become a successful virtualization administrator. Red Hat recommends candidates take an optional Virtualization Administration training course before appearing for the test.

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    Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

    A Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) is a capstone certification to RHCSA and RHCE, and is proof of high competence in Linux. The industry considers this certification as an eligibility to hold top positions.

    To acquire RHCA certification, the candidate has to appear and pass for these five exams:

    1. Network Services Expertise
    2. Enterprise Deployment and Systems Management Expertise
    3. Enterprise Directory Services and Authentication Expertise OR Enterprise Virtualization
    4. Enterprise Clustering and Storage Management Expertise
    5. Enterprise System Monitoring and Performance Tuning Expertise

    Red Hat recommends candidates attend courses preceeding each of these five tests, but as always, such courses are not compulsory.

    All these upper level performance based exams are part of the Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) program but each certification is a worthy credential in its own right.

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