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Red Hat RHCSA, RHCE & RHCA

Best Linux Certifications
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If there's one major star in the vendor-specific Linux certification firmament, it's got to be Red Hat. The company has major market presence and serious duration as a commercial provider of Linux platforms and technologies.

Red Hat offers a typical administrator > engineer > architect certification ladder. Unlike many other such programs, however, it offers highly regarded and valued credentials at each rung, along with demanding and hands-on oriented exams and an excellent training curriculum to match. All exams for the following Red Hat certifications are performance based and last two hours or longer.

The giveaway for Red Hat certifications is that all come with acronyms that start with RH, as follows:

  • Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) — This foundation certification vets essential skills in handling files, working at the command line and using system documentation, along with managing systems (boot-up, identifying processes, start/stop virtual machines, controlling services), configuring storage partitions and logical volumes, and more.
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) — This cornerstone certification is designed to test and validate the skills and knowledge necessary to work as a senior-level Linux system administrator. Topics covered include advanced IP routing and services, managing runtime kernel behavior, working with iSCSI, automating maintenance tasks with shell scripts and working with networking services for Web, FTP, NFS, SMB, SMTP, SSH and more. An RHSCA is a prerequisite for the RHCE.
  • Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) — Red Hat's pinnacle certification takes the RHCE or Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer (RHCJD) as a prerequisite, and also requires candidates to earn at least five certificates of expertise within one of the concentrations: Datacenter, Cloud, DevOps, Application Platform or Application Development. Expertise areas include OpenStack, hybrid cloud storage, JBoss administration, platform as a service (PaaS), deployment and systems management, virtualization, clustering and storage management, server hardening and performance tuning. Each certificate requires passing a performance-based exam, which lasts up to six hours. Candidates who pass six or more exams earn the designation of RHCA Level II. This is a grueling, expensive and time-consuming credential to earn, but it's valued highly.

Because Red Hat Linux is widely used in the business world, it makes an excellent choice for those interested in a more platform-focused path into the Linux world. Of course, for those who already work with or around Red Hat, it is a natural certification choice as well.

RHCSA, RHCE and RHCA Facts & Figures

Certification Name:Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)
Prerequisites & Required CoursesRHCSA: No prerequisites
Recommended training:
  • Windows system administrators: Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) (5 days, $3,200) and II (RH134) (4 days, $3,200)
  • Linux/Unix Administrators, RHCSA Rapid Track Course (RH199) (4 days, $3,500)
RHCE: RHCSA credential
Recommended training:
  • Same as for RHCSA, plus
  • Red Hat System Administration III (RH254) ($3,200)
RHCA: RHCE or RHCJD, plus at least five certificates of expertise (for the DevOps concentration, the Red Hat Certified Developer may be substituted for RHCE) Recommended training varies by concentration.
Number of ExamsRHCSA: One exam, EX200 Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam (2.5 hours)

RHCE: One exam, EX300 Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exam (3.5 hours)

RHCA: Five exams total depending on whether you start as an RHCE or RHCJD (see below)

An RHCE must pass five exams from the following to achieve the RHCA:
  • EX210 — Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack
  • EX220 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Management
  • EX236 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Storage
  • EX248 — Red Hat Certified JBoss Administrator (RHCJA)
  • EX270 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Container Administration (retired)
  • EX276 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Containerized Application Development
  • EX280 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform-as-a-Service
  • EX310 — Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack
  • EX318 — Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator
  • EX342 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Red Hat Enterprise Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
  • EX401 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Deployment and Systems Management
  • EX403 – Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Deployment and Systems Management exam
  • EX405 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Configuration Management
  • EX407 — Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Ansible Automation
Cost per Exam$400 each ($2,000 total RHCA exam costs)
URLwww.redhat.com/training/certifications/#certifications
Self-Study MaterialsRed Hat skills assessments and other materials can be located on the training page. Red Hat Training includes multiple training options (online, classroom, self-paced, virtual, video and more). Red Hat Learning Subscription includes all online courses in one package; prices vary by geography, candidates can expect to pay $5,500 for a Basic Subscription and $7,000 for a Standard Subscription. Study guides are on Amazon.

MORE: Red Hat Certifications & Career Paths