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Best System Administrator Certifications

Best System Administrator Certifications
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When it comes to managing computer systems, whether in an office environment, on a campus or in an enterprise data center, there's a long list of tools and technologies SysAdmins need to master. Also, numerous certifications can help validate knowledge and skills in those areas.

In addition to server and client configuration and maintenance, many system administrators must understand access controls, network services and resource requirements for applications. They often find themselves working with directory and name services as well as network addressing, database services, web and desktop applications, email and more.

Making sense of all these different system administrator roles and accompanying certifications is no easy task. After examining various credentials, we came up with a list of our five favorite system administrator certifications for 2018.

The following chart shows the results of an informal job search we conducted that gives you an idea of the relative frequency with which our top five certifications appear in actual job postings. While all the certifications are popular, the CompTIA Server+ stands out as the clear favorite.

Job Board Search Results in alphabetical order, by certification)*

Certification
SimplyHiredIndeedLinkedIn Jobs
Linkup
Total
MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (Microsoft)268278170203
919
Oracle Linux System Administrator (Oracle)413437
29313
1,192
RHCE (Red Hat)492
539
455
209
1,695
Server+ (CompTIA)2,207
2,401
109
913
5,630
VCP6-DCV (VMware)**28
2951
3
111

* See our complete methodology for selecting top five certifications in the Best Certifications series. 
** Despite higher results for a few certifications we considered – namely, the IBM Certified System Administrator (409), ServiceNow Certified System Administrator (341) and LPI's LPIC (193) – searching for VCP Data Center resulted in more than 900 hits. Those job descriptions revealed employers prefer or require a VCP data center certification, but don't indicate the specific version. The latest VMware certification  ̶  VCP6.5-DCV  ̶  is too new to generate significant hits in job board results.

Although employers tend to pay SysAdmins at a lower rate than some of their IT peers, such as network engineers and data architects, a career in system administration is still worth pursuing. SimplyHired reports $73,697 as the national average salary for SysAdmins, in a range from $47,540 to $114,246. Indeed.com pegs the average at $67,444, and Glassdoor's average is $67,617.