There are, of course, plenty of books, practice exams, tutorials, and other study aids available. Some are free and some cost money. Read what LPI has to say, think about your skills, your budget, and how you learn best. Then, and only then, set out a course of study — assuming you need one at all; if you’re been working with Linux for any length of time, you may not need to study to pass some of the more basic LPI exams.
And now, a friendly word about Red Hat
Red Hat’s training and certifications are absolutely top drawer. You can know nothing about Linux, take your Red Hat courses, do some hands-on practical work on your own, and within a couple of years you will be competent to handle most Linux admin tasks — and not just on Red Hat, but in general with a little poking around in different distributions, because different Linux distributions aren’t all that different from one another.
If your employer wants to send you to a Red Hat class or pay for some Red Hat certification exams, don’t say “I dunno….” No, young troop. Jump up and SALUTE! If your bosses are willing to invest in you, say “thank you” graciously and take them up on their kind offer.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is the most common corporate Linux distribution. That’s as it should be. Its very name tells you it’s Enterprise Linux as opposed to desktop Linux or even cereal bowl Linux.
But RHEL is not the only Linux distribution. And it’s entirely possible that a Linux-ignorant HR person will look at all your hard-won Red Hat certifications and say, “I’m sorry. We’re looking for someone with Fedora experience.”
You can sputter and your face can turn red, but there is no way you can penetrate that level of stupidity. Just turn and leave — and be glad you didn’t end up working for a company where morons hold respnsible positions. Which leads to a caution:
If a company uses Linux, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s run by smart people.
Hard to believe, but true. On the hiring front, you know and I know that experience and knowledge trump certifications any day of the week. But many HR people and managers don’t know this. Or at least will run resumes through automated sorting system that kick out anyone who doesn’t have Linux Mint experience. And in the world of automated resume sorting, Ubuntu experience just won’t do. Sorry.
Stupid? You bet! But what are you going to do about it?
Answer: invest in at least a few LPI exams, and make sure your resume lists every Linux distro you’ve used, and every major program you’ve worked with on those distros.
With any luck, these tactics will help you get by HR and management gatekeepers and put you in front of an actual front-line manager who knows what he or she is talking about and won’t waste your time with stupidity.
It’s a hope, anyway. And LPI exams are a great aid in fulfilling the hope of getting you in front of someone who can actually hire you — or a few rungs up your career ladder, give you a raise or even promote you.]]>
There is no room for operating system or software license bigotry in today’s IT job market. The IBM marketing person who told me her enterprise-level clients tended to have every operating system the world has ever known somewhere in their companies was, herself, a Linux user. So am I. But not strictly so. I have a MacBook Pro on my desk that dual-boots Mac Snow Kitty (or some such) and Linux Mint, and I have a custom desktop PC that dual-boots Windows 7 and Ubuntu.
I prefer Linux, but I am not doctrinaire about it. And I am not a sysadmin, but a writer and editor, and the only computers for which I am responsible are my own.
Someone who is responsible for a networked office or multiple offices full of computers is going to be asked to solve hardware problems. Can’t do that? Coworkers aren’t going to respect you much. They don’t care whether a problem is caused by software or hardware. All they know is that their computer isn’t working, and that it’s your job to make it work!
Some of your users may not even know what operating system their computer runs. Do you think Cthulhu knows what OS his PC uses? Probably not. But if you can’t fix Cthulhu’s computer, he might suck your soul.
This is a good reason to be at least somewhat familiar with all popular operating systems.
Of course, being as valuable as possible to your employer is another important reason to know as much as you can about multiple operating systems.
Windows admin tasks are easy. Linux, not so much.
We know Windows is easy to work with because Microsoft has been known to give out MCSE certs to eight-year-olds. And even if there are Windows tasks that aren’t easy, Microsoft is selling ease of use, so they really can’t admit that Windows might take a bit of skill to keep running right.
Linux has no reputation for ease of use to maintain. If anything, people tend to overstate rather than understate the skill level it takes to maintain a Linux network — or even a mixed Linux/Windows/Mac network.
But let’s talk about numbers. Windows computers are all over the place. Joe’s Computer Repair can deal with Windows, no problem. So can Al’s Computer Repair, Sally’s PC Service, and even Geek Squid (up to a point). So there are lots of people and companies competing for home and small business Windows computer repair work.
While Joe, Al, Sally, and the Geek Squid people are doing low-dollar home computer work, Larry Linux is earning five times as much as they do babysitting servers at Gigantor Corp. Sure, Larry does some PC fixit work now and then, and his coworkers love him for it, but the reason he was hired and the reason he gets the big buck$ is that he knows how to keep Gigantor’s big RHEL servers running, and those servers are the company’s lifeblood.
Need I say more? Linux knowledge is obviously going to help you find a better-paying, more stable job than Windows knowledge.
And there are different certifications availabole that can assure potential employers that you have the Linux skills they need, just as there are certifications for Windows-oriented sysadmins. But that’s a whole separate article, which will be along soon. (So stay tuned!)]]>
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The Foundation’s first-ever Linux Jobs Report is now available as a downloadable PDF file. They also have an interview with a Dice.com person who says, “It’s not a surprise to us that Linux talent is in demand, but what is surprising is the fact that 85 percent of companies report having difficulty finding qualified Linux professionals.”
So, qualified Linux professional, that means you are in demand!
And if you are not a qualified Linux professional, you may want to become one.
At the very least, install Linux on a computer or two at home and start messing with it. Which distributions? Probably Red Hat clone CentOS, and purist favorite Debian, not because they’re the easiest to use, but because they’re what you’re most likely to find in an enterprise installation.
It’s also okay to cheat and start out with Debian-derived Ubuntu, which is more GUI-oriented than Debian or Red Hat (or Red Hat clone CentOS).
You can get plenty of free Linux help from Linux User Groups. That’s a Wikipedia link. Using the search terms “Linux User Group” or “LUG” and the name of the nearest major city or town to you in Google is almost certain to turn up a LUG near you. Even if there’s not one that has meetings that are convenient for you to attend, there are plenty of LUGs whose primary “meetings” are email lists or IRC channels. F2F or online, Linux users are generally helpful if you ask politely for aid rather than demanding it in a huff.
Many community colleges and most universities offer some sort of Linux classes. And there are Linux certifications galore you can obtain by taking tests. Rather than hashing through all of them here, I’ll give you a link to a Google search for “Linux certification” that will give you an overwhelmning amount of information.
Another great reason to start playing with Linux is that it’s fun. In fact, once you get used to running Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), you’ll probably find most proprietary operating systems and software somewhat confining. But this doesn’t mean you should stop using them. As an IT manager friend of mine says, “In my shop there’s no such thing as a Linux sysadmin or a Windows sysadmin.” If you work for me, you’re a sysadmin. Period.”]]>
Perhaps some of the EC-Council members-only boards have active job listings. But since there’s no way to see them without paying for a membership or course, we’ll leave this group alone — unless your employer is paying for the training, in which case you should jump on it.
Actually, jumping on any training or certification your employer is willing to provide is a good idea. Knowledge is power — and can also mean more job fulfillment if — as we and your employer hope — you get pleasure from solving problems.
Even so, if you have a choice of security certification programs, or of certification programs in general, it’s still good to take their job-finding value into consideration. We know you’re a loyal employee and have no interest in moving on… but things change. Oh, yes. They can change overnight, sometimes, and leave you suddenly scrambling for a new job.]]>
A fast Google search for GIS Certification turns up scads of entries, and a lot of them are from colleges both junior and senior. Add your location to the search and you’re likely to find one near you. Even backwater Manatee County, Florida (where I live), has GIS traing available nearby, so there’s hope for almost anyone, anywhere, plus lots of online training in the field.
The GIS Lounge looks like a good URL for general GIS info + a place to ask questions of people already in the field. And for info specifically about getting a GIS certification, urisa.org/about/gisci looks like a good bet.
And for a contrarian take, suggesting that GIS certification isn’t necessary or even useful for getting a job in GIS, check The GIS Certification emperor has no clothes.
Have fun learning about GIS!]]>
Jim Lacey, CEO of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) is heavily involved with ITCC. He says the group’s main mission right now is “to bring value back to certifications.”
Back to certifications? Say what?
Jim says the problem of watered-down certifications started in the late 90s, when some IT companies decided it was a better marketing tactic to have lots and lots of people “certified” to work with their products than to maintain realistic certification standards.
At one point, in fact, a company we’ll call TinyLimp (not its real name) was getting razzed because nine-year-olds and people with no IT experience were taking the company’s certification tests and getting TinyLimp Certified Systems Engineer (TCSE) credentials. Similar abuses, plus a whole raft of certifications given out by groups no one had ever heard of, whose “certified” people seemed to know less than a random selection of nearby pedestrians, caused many employers to (rightfully) view all IT certifications through skepticism-colored glasses.
Certification quality makes a difference
ITCC members include Microsoft, HP, Novell, IBM, Cisco, and several industry-oriented — rather than company-oriented — certification providers, including the Linux Professional Institute.
There are well-regarded certiication programs run by companies that are not ITCC members, too. Red Hat is a famous example. A Red Hat Certified Engineer or System Administrator has passed some serious tests and can be expected to work competently with Red Hat Linux on a company’s servers as soon as he or she is hired.
Jim points out, correctly, that LPI covers Linux in general, which may make an LPI certified tech more generally employable than one whose certification covers Red Hat alone. On the other hand, a company that primarly or exclusively runs Red Hat and its relatives, Fedora and CentOS, may want its IT personnel to take Red Hat training and pass Red Hat tests.
Microsoft certifications, too, have some substance to them these days. Even if you’re a Linux or Mac fanatic, it’s almost impossible to avoid Windows and other Microsoft products in a corporate environment, so Microsoft certifications are good to have.
The best certifications are ones your employer sponsors
Thinking in career terms, assuming you want to stay with your current employer, certifications they’re willing to pay for are the ones likely to be of greatest career value to you. If you’re thinking you might move on one day, certifications you get on your employer’s tab are still great, but you might also want to look at spending a few of your own dollars to take exams in areas where you have special interests that aren’t shared by your current employer.
One caution, though: don’t pin all your career advancement hope on your certification test-taking skills. The most recent Foote Partners IT skills trend report says the pay premium for having specific, in-demand IT skills is rising steadily, but that salary premiums for certified IT workers are down a bit, and have been dropping for a number of years.
ITCC hopes to reverse this trend, but that reversal is still a work in progress.
Even so, certifications issued by “name” companies like IBM, Cisco, and Novell (as well as non-ITCC biggies like SAP), and by well-known bodies such as LPI and CompTIA, are worthy additions to your resume whether you’re looking for internal advancement or looking for a better job with another company.]]>