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Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
By , Mary Kyle

Red Hat offers certifications on virtualization, storage, cloud and the company's open source-based operating systems. This certification guide will help you get started with the popular RHCE and RHCSA as well as other Red Hat certs and career paths.

Red Hat, Inc. provides open source software solutions to more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including Internet Service Providers, airlines, healthcare companies and commercial banks. The company has been around for over 20 years and is well known for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. Red Hat provides a fully open technology stack, which you can alter to suit your needs — you're not locked into the vendor's vision of the software. Red Hat's portfolio of products and services also include JBoss middleware, cross-platform virtualization, cloud computing (CloudForms and OpenStack) and much more.

Red Hat offers a number of professional certifications based on its software products including operating systems, virtualization, storage and cloud-based solutions.

Red Hat Certification Program Overview

The Red Hat certification program is aimed at system administrators, engineers, architects, enterprise developers and application administrators, as well as cloud and virtualization administrators, who use RHEL in the IT infrastructure. The program aims to ensure candidates are proficient in RHEL by requiring performance-based certification exams. Whereas many certification exams ask multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions about specific technologies, Red Hat requires you to perform and complete real-world tasks using Red Hat technologies in order to pass its exams.

Red Hat traditionally offered certification exams only upon completion of a training course. Now you can take a Red Hat exam on your own schedule, outside of training, if you prefer. The exam session is performed on a secured system in a professionally proctored testing center. The centers are located in select cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

Once you earn a Red Hat certification, you become a Red Hat Certified Professional. This gives you access to Red Hat Certification Central, which allows you to connect with potential employers, join the Red Hat community, create study groups and collaborate on projects. In addition, you can explore Red Hat's training options and easily schedule individual exam sessions. Discounts on recertification exams are offered as well.


Red Hat Administrator, Engineer And Architect Certs

The largest group of Red Hat certifications is geared toward system administrators, engineers and architects. Some of the most popular and sought-after Red Hat certifications reside in this category, such as the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA). Other certs include Red Hat Certified JBoss Administrator (RHCJA) and Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA).

In addition, this category includes a variety of Red Hat Certificate of Expertise credentials in Hybrid Cloud Management, Camel Development, Configuration Management, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting, Performance Tuning and more.

RHCSA: Red Hat Certified System Administrator

The RHCSA certification is designed for experienced Red Hat administrators and is required by some organizations to meet U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570. It's also a prerequisite credential for the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE).

Red Hat recommends three training classes to prepare for the RHCSA certification. The Windows admin classes are Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134). Candidates may also take a Linux/UNIX admin class — RHCSA Rapid Track Course RH199 — to prepare for the RHCSA exam.

To obtain RHCSA certification, candidates must pass the 2.5-hour RHCSA Exam (EX200).

RHCE: Red Hat Certified Engineer

The RHCE certification is geared toward experienced senior system administrators, and fulfills requirements of U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570.

To obtain the RHCE certification, you must first become RHCSA certified. The recommended training for the RHCE certification is based on your skill level. Windows admins with minimal Linux experience should take the Red Hat System Administration I and II (RH124 and RH134) courses, along with the Red Hat System Administration III (RH254) course to prepare for the exam.

Linux or UNIX admins with one to three years of experience should take both the RHCSA Rapid Track Course (RH199) and the Red Hat System Administration III (RH254) courses to prepare for the exam. RHCEs looking to recertify, or candidates who'd like the opportunity to engage in a lab-based review before taking the RHCE exam, should take the RHCE Certification lab (RH299). The certification lab is a four day, instructor-led opportunity to work through all of the labs from the Red Hat System Administration I, II and III courses, along with the Rapid Track course.

To complete the RHCE certification, you must pass the 3.5 hour RHCE Exam (EX300), which is currently based on Linux 7.

RHCA: Red Hat Certified Architect

The RHCA certification is the pinnacle cert in the Red Hat Certification program. To qualify for the RHCA, candidates must possess a current RHCE or Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer (RHCJD) credential. Depending on the concentration chosen, five or six exams are required to obtain RHCA certification. Currently, the RHCA is available in five concentrations: Datacenter, Application Platform, DevOps, Cloud and Application Development. Additional prerequisites for the RHCA vary by concentration but generally include a combination of exams, other certifications or certificates of expertise in various Red Hat disciplines.

RHCA Exams

Certification
Prereqs
No. of Exams
Exams
RHCA Datacenter
RHCE
5
Choose five exams from the following:
Hybrid Cloud Storage (EX236)
Certified JBoss Administrator (RHCJA) (EX248)
Certified Virtualization Administrator (EX318)
Deployment and Systems Management (EX401)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting (EX342)
Configuration Management with Puppet (EX405)
Server Hardening (EX413)
High Availability Clustering (EX436)
Performance Tuning (EX442)
RHCA Application Platform
RHCE6
Hybrid Cloud Management (EX220)
Hybrid Cloud Storage (EX236)
Certified JBoss Administrator (RHCJA) (EX248)
Platform-as-a-Service (EX280)
Ansible Automation (EX407)
Data Virtualization (EX450)
RHCA Cloud
RHCE5
Choose five exams from the following:
RHCA in Red Hat OpenStack (EX210)
Hybrid Cloud Management (EX220)
Hybrid Cloud Storage (EX236)
Platform-as-a-Service (EX280)
RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack (EX310)
RHCVA (EX318)
Deployment and Systems Management (EX401)
Configuration Management with Puppet (EX405)
Ansible Automation (EX407)
RHCA: Enterprise Application Development
RHCJD
5
Choose five exams from the following:
Business Process Design (EX427)
JBoss Administrator (RHCJA) (EX248)
Persistence (EX297)
Camel Development (EX421)
Data Virtualization (EX450)
Fast-Cache Application Development (EX453)
Business Rules (EX465)
RHCA: DevOps
RHCE or RHCJD
5
Container Management (EX270) – coming soon
Containerized Application Development (EX276)
Platform-as-a-Service (EX280)
Configuration Management (EX405)
Ansible Automation (EX407)

The number of recommended training courses varies for each RHCA concentration. There are nine recommended training courses for Datacenter and Cloud. Application Platform and Enterprise Application Development concentrations have six recommended training courses each and five courses are recommended for the DevOps concentration. There is some overlap in training course recommendations as shown in the table below.

RHCA Recommended Training

Recommended Training
DataCente
Application Platform
Cloud
Enterprise Application Development
DevOps
Gluster Storage Administration (RH236)
x
x
x


Virtualization (RH318)
x

x


Enterprise Linux Troubleshooting (RH342)
x




Deployment and Systems Management (RH401)
x

x


Configuration Management with Puppet (DO405)
x

x

x
Server Hardening (RH413)
x




High Availability Clustering (RH436)
x




Performance Tuning (RH442)
x




JB Administration I (JB248)
x
x

x

CloudForms Hybrid Cloud Management (CL220)

x



OpenShift Enterprise Administration Management (CL220)

x
x


Automation with Ansible (DO407)

x
x

x
OpenShift Enterprise Administration  (DO280)

x
x

x
OpenStack Administration I (CL110)


x


OpenStack Administration II (CL210)


x


JBoss Development: Persistence with Hibernate (JB297)



x

Camel Development with JBoss Fuse (JB421)



x

JBoss Data Virtualization Development (JB450)



x

Implementing with JBoss BRMS (JB465)



x

Developing Workflow Application with JBoss BPM Suite (JB427)



x

Containerizing Software Application (DO276)




x
Managing Containers with Enterprise Linux Atomic Host (RH270)




x

Red Hat Developer And Application Administrator Certs

Certifications in the Red Hat Enterprise Developers and Application Administrators category are geared towards developers who are proficient in the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Application Platform. Two certs are offered: The Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer (RHCJD) and the Red Hat Certified JBoss Administrator (RHCJA).

The RHCJD certification is geared towards individuals able to build Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) applications for deployment on the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Application Platform or other JEE-compliant platforms. A single exam — the Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer exam (EX225) — is required to earn the RHCJD credential. Red Hat recommends the JBoss Enterprise Application Development (JB225) training course, which is available in virtual and classroom formats and online. Onsite training is available upon request.

The RHCJA identifies individuals who can install, configure and manage the Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, as well as deploy and manage applications on that platform. As with the RHCJD credential, the RHCJA requires a single exam, Red Hat Certified JBoss Administrator exam (EX248). The current RHCJA exam is based on Enterprise Application Platform 7; on-site and individual exams for Enterprise Application Platform 6.3 are available until July 8, 2017.

Candidates can also choose from several Certificates of Expertise: Persistence, Camel Development, Data Virtualization, Business Rules and Business Process Design. A single exam is required to obtain each certificate.

Red Hat Cloud And Virtualization Administrator Certs

Red Hat offers several certifications geared toward IT professionals who are familiar with Red Hat virtualization and cloud technologies. In addition to the RHCA: Cloud (mentioned previously in this article), three certifications stand out: Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator, Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack and Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack. The company also offers two the Hybrid Cloud Storage and Platform-as-a-Service Certificates of Expertise.

The Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA) certification is for individuals who can implement and manage virtualization infrastructures, hosts and guests using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. The RHCVA Exam (EX318) takes up to three hours to complete.

The Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Storage identifies individuals who can deploy flexible storage solutions for on-premise and hybrid clouds using Red Hat Gluster Storage Server. The Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Hybrid Cloud Storage (EX236) is a two-hour exam. RHCSA certification or comparable skills and work experience is recommended. Red Hat recommends candidates attend the Red Hat Gluster Storage Administration (RH236) training course to prepare for the exam.

The Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack certification recognizes individuals who implement, configure and manage private clouds in Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. The Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack Exam (EX210), a four-hour exam based on Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8. The Red Hat OpenStack Administration I (CL 110) and II (CL210) courses are recommended but not required.

The Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack is focused on IT professionals who possess the skills necessary to install, deploy and work with Red Hat Ceph Storage, including creation of block devices for Ceph and integration of services with Ceph Storage devices. In addition, Certified Engineers in Red Hat OpenStack are able to create and manage devices for virtual networks and use the OpenStack Neutron Service. Candidates must possess the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) in Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8 to qualify for the credential. In addition to the RHCSA exam (EX210), candidates must also pass Red Hat Certified System Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack (EX310), a three-hour performance-based exam. Red Hat recommends that candidates take the Red Hat OpenStack System Administration Red Hat OpenStack Administration I (CL 110), II (CL210), and III (CL310) courses to prepare.

The Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform-as-a-Service is for individuals who create, configure and manage cloud application platforms using OpenShift Enterprise by Red Hat. The three-hour Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform-as-a-Service (EX280) exam is required. The recommended training course to prepare for the exam is OpenShift Enterprise Administration (DO280).

Related Jobs and Careers

With the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies currently utilizing Red Hat open source solutions, the value of IT professionals well-versed in Red Hat Linux technologies has long been recognized. Trained Red Hat professionals are a key ingredient to the successful creation and maintenance of Red Hat solutions that deliver enduring value.

Regardless of the type of Red Hat technology deployed, there is a consistent, established ongoing requirement for IT professionals qualified to server as administrators, system engineers and architects.

System administrators are the foundation of deploying Red Hat Linux solutions. As operating system experts, system administrators possess an in-depth knowledge of essential Linux tools as well as file systems and storage. Typical responsibilities include creating, configuring, deploying and maintaining Linux systems along with performing updates and maintaining system security.

Red Hat Linux system engineers are the next logical next step in the career ladder for Red Hat professionals. Not only do system engineers possess the same skills as administrators, but they are masters at setting runtime parameters and automating system maintenance through shell scripting. Linux system engineers are also experts at configuring system and remote logging, static routes (including packet filter and translation of network addresses), Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) initiators, and network services such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Network Time Protocol (NTP), secure shell (SSH), and more.

If system administrators are the foundation of deploying Red Hat solutions, architects are the authors and finishers when it comes to implementing, deploying and maintaining Red Hat solutions. Architects define Red Hat Linux programs and are involved in all phases -- creation, development and testing of proposed solutions, integration with existing systems, defining the overall solution architecture, and providing support as the solution moves into production. As subject matter experts, Red Hat Linux architects formulate and deliver RHEL technology recommendations, create required documentation, and provide installation guidance and assistance.

Red Hat Training and Resources

Red Hat offers an extensive training program, in classroom, online, virtual, remote classroom, on-site team and online learning lab formats. Most courses are three to five days in length depending on delivery format. A remarkably helpful resource is the Red Hat Training Resource Center, which contains links to online tools, references, student guides, a skills assessment and more. Check it out at redhat.com/training/resources-na.html.

In addition, Red Hat offers multiple ways for you or your company to save on certification and training costs. Browse the Red Hat Ways to Save page (redhat.com/training/specials-na/) for training bundles and success packs.

You can also find lots of third-party study guide books to help prepare for certification. Just search for "Red Hat Certification" on Amazon and be prepared for a lot of results.