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Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
Credit: Red Hat

Red Hat, Inc. provides open source software solutions to more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, including Internet Service Providers, airlines, healthcare companies and commercial banks. The company has been around for more than two decades 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 or stack components. 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 numerous professional certifications based on its software products including operating systems, virtualization, storage and cloud-based solutions.

The Red Hat certification program aims at system administrators, engineers, architects, enterprise developers and application administrators, as well as cloud and virtualization administrators, who use RHEL in their IT infrastructures. The program aims to ensure that candidates are proficient in RHEL by requiring them to pass 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 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 like. Each exam session is performed on a secured system in a professionally proctored testing center. These centers are 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 there as well.

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).

The RHCA is probably Red Hat’s most versatile credential, with specialties in Cloud, Datacenter, Application platform, Application Development and DevOps currently available. Over the past year, Red Hat has retired a great many of its credentials, as you can see from the long list of “Retired Certifications” at the company’s All Certifications page.

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).

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 Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

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.

Certification

Prereqs

No. of Exams

Exams

RHCA Datacenter

RHCE

5

Choose five exams from the following:
EX210 – RHCSA in Red Hat OpenStack
EX220 – RHCS in Hybrid Cloud Management
EX236 – RHCS in Gluster Storage Administration
EX280 – RHCS in OpenShift Administration
EX310 – RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack
EX318 – RHCS in Virtualization
EX403 – RHCS in Deployment and Systems Mgmt
EX405 – RHCS in Configuration Management
EX407 – RHCS in Ansible Automation
EX440 – RHCS in Messaging Administration exam

RHCA Application Platform

RHCE

6

Take all 6 of these exams:
EX220 – RHCS in Hybrid Cloud Management
EX236 – RHCS in Gluster Storage Administration
EX248 – RHCS in Enterprise Application Server Administration
EX280 – RHCS in OpenShift Administration
EX407 – RHCS in Ansible Automation
EX450 – RHCS in Data Virtualization

RHCA Cloud

RHCE

5

Choose five exams from the following:
EX210 –RHCSA in Red Hat OpenStack
EX220 –RHCS in Hybrid Cloud Management
EX236 –RHCS in Gluster Storage Administration
EX280 –RHCS in OpenShift Administration
EX310 –RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack
EX318 –RHCS in Virtualization
EX403 –RHCS in Deployment and Systems Mgmt
EX405 –RHCS in Configuration Management
EX407 –RHCS in Ansible Automation
EX440 –RHCS in Messaging Administration

RHCA: Enterprise Application Development

RHCJD

5

Choose five exams from the following:
EX183 - Red Hat Certified Enterprise Application Developer
EX427 –RHCS in Business Process Design
EX248 –RHCS in Enterprise Application Server Administration
EX297 –RHCS in Persistence (retired)
EX421 –RHCS in Camel Development
EX450 –RHCS in Data Virtualization
EX453 –RHCS in Fast-Cache Application Development
EX465 –RHCS in Business Rules
JB183 - Red Hat Application Development I: Programming in Java EE

RHCA: DevOps

RHCE or RHCJD

5

Candidates must pass all five exams:
EX270 – RHCS in Container Management (Retired)
EX276 – RHCS in Containerized Application Development (Retired)
EX280 – RHCS in OpenShift Administration
EX405 – RHCS in Configuration Management
EX407 – RHCS in Ansible Automation

The number of recommended training courses varies for each RHCA concentration (RHCS means “Red Hat Certified Specialist” in the preceding table). At present only candidates who’ve already taken the retired exams in the DevOps category can earn RHCA: DevOps (hopefully, Red Hat will rectify this situation, or retire the credential). There is also some overlap in training course recommendations as shown in the table below.

Recommended Training

DataCenter

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

Formerly, Red Hat offered certifications geared toward IT professionals familiar with Red Hat virtualization and cloud technologies. In addition to the RHCA: Cloud (mentioned previously in this article), one could find Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator, Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack and Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack. Today, the last one – namely, RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack – is the only remaining member of this category still available.

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 can 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.

With the majority of Fortune 500 companies currently using 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 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.

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 for training bundles and success packs.

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

Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.