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Nine top Linux certifications

A whole lot of the internet runs on Linux, ailment which means that Linux-savvy IT pros are in demand. Which Linux certs will help you get a piece of the action?

Linux Penguin Shades and The rock-solid Linux operating system underpins much of the Internet and functions as the foundation of millions of servers and corporate mainframes worldwide. If you’ve mucked about with it at all, you know that it comes in multiple flavors, typically called distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE, and Debian to name a few. Each brings something unique to the table, but they are all more similar than different — which comes in pretty handy when you’re looking for a Linux certification to add to your resume. It means that every Linux certification is effectively somewhat vendor-neutral, which ensures that a potential employer won't toss your resume just because a certification isn’t in their particular flavor of Linux.


That said, there are times when a distribution specific credential can work in your favor, big time — say you offer your Red Hat Enterprise Linux expertise to a big corporate environment that swears by the same. Either way, there’s a plentiful supply of solid Linux certifications suitable for every skill level. Here are your best bets in the current market:


Entry Level


The certifications in this section are ideal for junior-level network administrators of small networks, as well as individuals who install or provide technical support on Linux systems.


Linux Professional Institute Certified – Level 1 (LPIC-1)


This is a solid, well-established, vendor-neutral certification best suited for junior-level Linux administrators. To earn it, you’ll need to be comfortable working at the Linux command line and know how to install and configure workstations. From here, you can move up to LPI’s Level 2 and (ultimately) Level 3 certifications. If this certification seems right for you, be sure to consider CompTIA Linux+ as a possible alternative, because you can get this one by earning that one, with no additional exams required. LPI also has an arrangement with SUSE: Candidates who hold LPIC-1 can apply for SUSE Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certification with no additional exams or fees. See the sidebar for the scoop on how to get your Linux 3-for-1.


How much can you earn with your LPIC-1? Visit GoCertify partner PayScale


CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI


This is essentially a CompTIA-branded version of LPIC Level 1 (LPIC-1), and it’s an ideal entry point into Linux certification. In fact, when you earn this, you can opt to have your scores forwarded to LPI and you’ll be granted the LPIC-1 credential without passing any additional exams, giving you a nice two-for-one, as well as the option to move up the LPI certification ladder going forward. (Note: It doesn’t work the other way around. You can't get Linux+ by earning LPIC-1.) If you play your cards in the right order (see sidebar), you can parlay it into a third certification as well.


Linux+ Pay Chart:

Median Salary by Job
Certification: CompTIA Linux+ (United States)

salary chartPayScale Salary Calculator

CAREER TOOLS: Salary Calculator, Career Path Tool, Cost of Living Calculator, Meeting Miser


Oracle Certified Associate, Oracle  Linux System Administrator


If you’re working in an Oracle environment, or plan to — and there are plenty of them around — then this is the go-to Linux certification for you. Oracle offers this foundation-level credential that hones in on the administration and capabilities of its own distribution of Linux, which runs beneath many of Oracle’s flagship products.