written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/24/2010
Linux certification can be a turning point in your career. Linux certification courses not only teach you Linux but they also are a document to prove your skills to employers.
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Why You Need Linux Certification
Before you start taking Linux certification courses, you need to have a clear idea why you need to have a Linux certificate. The answer to this question will narrow down the list of suitable courses to just a few and it will be easier to decide which Linux certification course is the best for you.
There are many top courses for Linux certification and it is not possible to tell which one is the best. Actually, for different people and different purposes the list of top courses for Linux certification varies. Consider whether you need a Linux certificate for a job or just to have an in-depth, systematic knowledge in Linux.
If you need a Linux certificate just to put your Linux knowledge in order, then any of the general Linux certifications, such as LPI or CompTIAs will do. If you need a Linux certification for a job, then this focuses your choice a bit. Most likely you will need a particular course – i.e. if you will be administering an Oracle database under Linux, you will benefit most if you take a certification course in Oracle under Linux rather than in Linux in general.
If you expect that a single Linux certification will make you a Linux guru or that it will kick start your career, this will hardly happen. Similar to any other IT certification, Linux certifications are just one more advantage of yours. Certificates are especially important if you don't have formal training (i.e. a university degree) but again, what matters most is what you can do and not how many tons of diplomas you have.
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Some Good Linux Certification Courses
After you have decided why you need a Linux certification, the next step is to choose which one is the most suitable for you. If your employer pays for your Linux certification, then you might not be given a choice to pick the course, but if you are free to decide which Linux course to take, here are some of the best options:
Linux Professional Institute (LPI). LPI is one of the most reputable Linux certifications. It is also a very generic one, though if you manage to pass it, you will certainly learn a lot about Linux. LPI is a vendor-neutral Linux certification course and this makes it universal. Currently there are three parts (LPIC-1, LPIC-2, and LPIC-3) and each of them has an escalating degree of difficulty.
CompTIA Linux+. CompTIA Linux+ is another vendor-neutral Linux certification. Many people think it is much easier than LPIC to pass and is regarded as the prep course for LPI. Still, for an entry-level Linux job, CompTIA Linux+ might be ideal because it does test - and prove that you have knowledge of Linux.
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE). Unlike the first two Linux certification courses, which are vendor-neutral, RHCE is tied to a particular distribution – Red Hat Linux. However, when you keep in mind that Red Hat Linux is the most used Linux distribution for business, it is obvious that it makes sense to take this exam. If you become a RHCE, you will be able to administer not only Red Hat but other similar Linux distros as well.
Novell Certified Linux Administrator. Another vendor-specific Linux certification worth mentioning is Novell Certified Linux Administrator. This certification course is focused on SUSE Linux but similarly to RHCE, when you pass it, you will be able to administer other Linux systems as well.
These four major Linux certification courses can be a bit of a challenge, if you are new to Linux. If you fail the first time, don't panic. Instead, get the course materials, read them in detail and exchange ideas with other people; for instance the Linux certification discussion board is a great place to ask a question, and the next time you try you will most likely succeed.