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Best Linux Certifications

Updated Jul 31, 2023

Table of Contents

Open row
  • While not widely used on desktops, Linux continues to be an extremely popular operating system for web servers. 
  • There is still strong demand on job boards for candidates holding Linux certifications. 
  • Some of the best Linux certifications available include CompTIA’s Linux+, Red Hat’s RHCSA and Oracle Linux OCP. 
  • This article is for IT professionals interested in Linux who want to learn more about which Linux certifications are best to obtain.

More than 20 years after Linus Torvalds developed Linux, the operating system remains a force in the computing industry. While Linux is not widely used on desktops, it is extraordinarily strong on the web server side, where it enjoys a market share of 48 percent, according to WTechs.

Information technology (IT) professionals invest considerable time learning about server computing for everything from installation, configuration, maintenance and virtualization to application support and security. This also means that many IT professionals are working with and around Linux operating systems daily, often alongside Windows and various UNIX OS brands as well.

The results of a job search we conducted on several popular job posting sites show which Linux certifications employers are looking for when hiring new employees. While results vary from day to day (and job board to job board), this table reflects those Linux-related certifications that employers were seeking in the United States.

Job Board Survey Results (in alphabetical order, by certification)




LinkedIn Jobs



Linux+ (CompTIA)












Oracle Linux OCP






RHCA (Red Hat)






RHCE (Red Hat)






RHCSA (Red Hat)






We found that for nearly every certification category listed above, the number of national jobs postings mentioning that certification has increased or held steady since we surveyed the same job sites a year ago. Linux system administrators and engineers can expect average earnings in the low $90s and upward, depending on the job role. Glassdoor reports earnings for Linux system administrators averaging $94,000, Linux system engineers around $132,000 and senior Linux system engineers at an average range of $144,000 to $232,000

Best Linux Certifications

The best of the Linux certifications vie for considerable mindshare among IT professionals and present an interesting mix of distribution- or brand-agnostic credentials alongside some pretty formidable vendor-specific credentials. There are multiple well-elaborated certification ladders available to those interested in learning, using and mastering the Linux operating system environment and all the many bells and whistles it supports.

The following are our top picks for Linux certifications to pursue.

Linux+ (CompTIA XK0-005)

CompTIA exercises extraordinary certification clout at the entry level in many IT niches. This nonprofit has shown itself as willing to team up with more focused IT organizations, associations and consortia to combine their own market reach and visibility with niche smarts and subject matter expertise on loan from various partners.

CompTIA’s Linux+ is aimed at early career system administrators aiming to increase their abilities to support Linux environments. CompTIA also recently introduced its latest version of the exam, XK0-005, which became the only version of the certification available after XK0-004 retired in January 2023. The new certification exam focuses on the evolving nature of Linux, looking at topics such as how Linux powers the cloud. Topics also include looking at infrastructure as code, Linux containers and how Linux is used in newer, cutting-edge technologies. 

CompTIA provides a wide range of other certifications, which can complement Linux+. These certifications include infrastructure-related certifications covering cloud and server technologies. 

Linux+ is good for three years, during which time holders can renew the certification by earning 50 continual education credits or by earning approved, high certifications that renew Linux+ automatically as well. 

CompTIA Linux+ Facts & Figures

Certification Name

CompTIA Linux+ 

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None required

Recommended: 12 months hands-on experience working with Linux servers; CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ are also recommended

Number of Exams

One: XK0-005; maximum of 90 multiple choice questions over 90 minutes

Cost per Exam

$358 per exam; prices vary by geography


Self-Study Materials

CompTIA maintains a list of training materials and additional study options, including links to study guides, exam crams, practice tests, online and classroom training, CertMaster and more; additional third-party reference and review materials can be found on Amazon

LPI (Linux Professional Institute) Certifications

The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) started up in October 1999, almost one decade after Linus Torvalds began his pioneering efforts on the Linux kernel. Since then, LPI has become one of the leading certification providers on Linux topics and technologies.

Given the organization’s distribution-agnostic approach to Linux, it offers excellent coverage of a platform that’s available in many forms and flavors in today’s marketplace.

The LPI Certification (LPIC) program is available in three distinct levels:

  • LPIC-1: A  junior-level Linux certification with no prerequisites. Candidates must pass two exams that cover basic Linux skills, including installing and configuring Linux on a workstation, working at the command line, performing basic maintenance tasks and making LAN or internet connections. 
  • LPIC-2: An advanced-level Linux certification that requires an active LPIC-1 certification. Candidates must pass two exams that cover significant Linux skills and topics. The first exam covers the kernel, system startup, file system and devices, advanced storage administration, network configuration, system maintenance and capacity planning. The second exam covers web services, file sharing, network client management, email services, system security and troubleshooting and domain name servers.
  • LPIC-3: At the senior level, LPI certifications split into three different paths, each of which requires an active LPIC-2 and passing any single exam in the 300 Valid exam IDs currently include 300: Mixed Environment, 303: Security, 305: Virtualization and Containerization and 306: High Availability and Storage Clusters. The Mixed Environment exam covers Samba (domain integration, user and group management, name services, share configuration and so forth), plus OpenLDAP and working with Linux and Windows clients. The Security exam covers network, operations and application security, as well as cryptography and access controls. High availability cluster storage and management, along with virtualization, are covered in the Virtualization and Storage Clusters exam and differing aspects of virtualization and virtual machine deployment are covered in Virtualization and Containerization.

In addition to the LPIC-1, 2 and 3 credentials, LPI also offers an entry-level credential, the Linux Essentials Professional Development Certificate (PDC). Linux Essentials focuses on foundational skills, such as creating and running simple scripts, restoring compressed backups and archives, working with the command line, Linux operating system basics, FOSS and users/groups and file permissions for public and private directories. Linux Essentials is a great way to get started while gaining the skills and knowledge needed for the more challenging LPIC credentials.

LPI also offers the LPIC-OT DevOps Tools Engineer certification, which recognizes the effective use of tools for collaboration during system and software development. There are no prerequisites, and the single exam lasts for 90 minutes and has 60 questions.

LPIC credentials are worthwhile for IT pros whose chosen Linux distributions do not warrant their own certification programs and those seeking broad, vendor- and distribution-neutral coverage of Linux topics, tools and technologies. They are popular among IT pros and in demand among IT employers.


The LPIC and Linux+ exams are great ways to demonstrate broad knowledge of the Linux system without having to specialize in a specific Linux distribution. This is a good pathway for either professions starting off in Linux or those who wish to maintain a wider knowledge base.

LPIC-1, LPIC-2 and LPIC-3 Facts & Figures

Certification Name



LPIC-3 Mixed Environments

LPIC-3 Security

LPIC-3 Virtualization and Containerization

LPIC-3 High Availability and Storage Clusters

Prerequisites & Required Courses

LPIC-1: None, Linux Essentials recommended

LPIC-2: Active LPIC-1 certification

LPIC-3 certification paths: Active LPIC-2 certification

Training is recommended but not required

Number of Exams

LPIC-1: Exam 101-500 and Exam 102-500

LPIC-2: Exam 201-450 and Exam 202-450

LPIC-3: One of the 300 series exams: Mixed Environment (Exam 300-300)

Security (Exam 303-300)

Virtualization and Containerization (Exam 305-300)

High Availability and Storage Clusters (Exam 306-300)

Cost per Exam

$200 per exam; exams administered by Pearson VUE; Linux ID required to register


Self-Study Materials

Study guides, courseware knowledge packs, e-learning courses, exam crams, practice tests, online and classroom training, Linux Academy subscriptions and more are available at LPI Exam Preparation, LPI Marketplace and Amazon

Oracle Linux OCP

When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010, it acquired a rich and deep UNIX tradition. Oracle started phasing out Solaris almost immediately after finalizing the Sun acquisition.

Today, Oracle offers associate- and professional-level certifications based on Linux rather than harking back to any kind of UNIX roots. These certifications retain enough of their Sun roots, however, so that courses are not mandatory prerequisites to taking the exams for the two Oracle Linux certifications currently available.

[Read also: Top Oracle Certifications to Help Your IT Career]

As with other vendor-specific Linux certifications, Oracle’s are most appealing to those who work with or around that distribution or wish to work for employers who use those distributions.

OCP Facts & Figures

Certification Name

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP), Oracle Linux 8 System Administrator

Prerequisites & Required Courses

OCP: Oracle recommends a mix of hands-on experience and taking classes in their learning subscription

Number of Exams

OCP: One exam, 1Z0-106 Oracle Linux 8 Advanced System Administrator (90 minutes, 60 questions and 60 percent to pass)

Cost per Exam

OCP: $245


Self-Study Materials

Oracle offers online and in-class training for its credentials with hit-or-miss coverage for them on the aftermarket; start with Amazon searches — check exam IDs 1Z0-106


If there’s one major star in the vendor-specific Linux certification firmament, it’s got to be Red Hat. The company has a major market presence and a serious duration as a commercial provider of Linux platforms and technologies.

Red Hat offers a typical administrator, engineer, architect certification ladder. Unlike many other such programs, however, it offers highly regarded and valued credentials at each rung, along with demanding and hands-on oriented exams and an excellent training curriculum to match. All exams for the following Red Hat certifications are performance-based and last two hours or longer.

[Read our Red Hat Certification guide next to learn more about the company’s career paths.]

The giveaway for Red Hat certifications is that all come with acronyms that start with RH, as follows:

  • Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA): This foundation certification vets essential skills in handling files, working at the command line and using system documentation, along with managing systems (boot up, identifying processes, start/stop virtual machines and controlling services), configuring storage partitions and logical volumes and more.
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE): This cornerstone certification is designed to test and validate the skills and knowledge necessary to work as a senior-level Linux system administrator. The exam focuses on testing and developing skills necessary for managing systems in a DevOps environment. Topics include automation, management and support of multisystem environments and experience integrating Ansible Automation with other Red Hat technologies.
  • Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA): Red Hat’s pinnacle certification offers two paths to certification, depending on which prerequisite advanced Red Hat certification credentials you have already completed: Red Hat Certified Enterprise Microservices Developers (RHCEMDs) and Red Hat Certified Cloud-native Developer (RHCCDs) can earn an RHCA in Enterprise Applications and Red Hat Certified Engineers (RHCEs) can earn an RHCA in Infrastructure.

In general, the five additional exams that must be passed to achieve the RCHA in either Infrastructure or Enterprise Applications are specific to each area of specialization, though a few of the tests can be used to satisfy the five exam requirements in both RHCA tracks.

A number of previously available certification exams have been discontinued for new RHCA candidates and renewals, though those exams can still be applied to the RHCA certification if you’ve already passed them. Find out more about discontinued exams that can be counted toward the RHCA credential on the RHCA page under the Candidate Guidance tab.

Because Red Hat Linux is widely used in the business world, the RHCA certification is an excellent choice for those interested in a more platform-focused path into the Linux world. Of course, for those who already work with or around Red Hat, it is a natural certification choice as well. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Red Hat is a trusted partner for more than 90 percent of organizations in the Fortune 500, making it a strong choice for Linux professionals looking to specialize in a specific Linux distribution.

RHCSA, RHCE and RHCA Facts & Figures

Certification Name:

Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

RHCSA: No prerequisites 

Recommended training:

Windows system administrators: Runnin Containers with Red Hat Technical Overview (RH065), Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and II (RH134

Linux/Unix Administrators, RHCSA Rapid Track Course with exam (RH200)

RHCE: RHCSA credential 

Recommended training:

Same as for RHCSA, plus

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Automation with Ansible (RH294)


RHCE-certified (Infrastructure track) — Candidates currently holding an RHCE certification must pass five additional exams from the Infrastructure track below

RHCEMD/RHCCD-certified (Enterprise Applications track) — Candidates currently holding an RHCJD or an RHCEMD certification must pass five additional exams from the Enterprise Applications track below

Number of Exams

RHCSA: One exam, EX200 Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam

RHCE: One exam, EX294 Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exam 

RHCA: Five exams total depending on whether you have already completed an RHCE certification (for the RHCA Infrastructure track) or an RHCEMD/RHCCD (for the RHCA Enterprise Applications track): 

An RHCE must pass at least five exams from the following list to achieve the RHCA in Infrastructure, while also keeping the associated certifications current:

EX180 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Containers and Kubernetes exam

EX188 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Containers exam

EX210 – Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack exam

EX220 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Hybrid Cloud Management exam

EX221 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Cloud-native Integration exam

EX236 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Gluster Storage Administration exam

EX240 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in API Management exam

EX248 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Enterprise Application Server Administration exam

EX260 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ceph Cloud Storage exam 

EX280 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration exam

EX288 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development exam

EX310 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Edge Computing and Networking exam

EX328 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Building Resilient Microservices exam

EX318 – Red Hat Certified Virtualization exam

EX342 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting exam

EX358 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Services Management and Automation exam

EX362 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Identity Management exam

EX374 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Developing Automation with Ansible Automation Platform exam

EX380 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Automation and Integration exam

EX403 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Deployment and Systems Management exam

EX405 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Configuration Management exam

EX415 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Security: Linux exam

EX436 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in High Availability Clustering exam

EX440 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Messaging Administration exam

EX442 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Performance Tuning exam

EX447 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Advanced Automation: Ansible Best Practices exam

EX457 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Network Automation exam

EX482 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Event-Driven Application Development exam

RHCEMD/RHCCDs must pass five exams from the following list to achieve the RHCA certification in Enterprise Applications:

EX180 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Containers and Kubernetes exam
EX240 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in API Management exam

EX248 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Enterprise Application Server Administration exam

EX280 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration exam

EX288 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development exam

EX405 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Configuration Management exam

EX407 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation exam

EX427 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Business Process Design exam

EX440 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Messaging Administration exam

EX453 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Fast-Cache Application Development exam

EX465 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Business Rules exam

EX447 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Advanced Automation: Ansible Best Practices exam

EX480 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in MultiCluster Management exam

EX482 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Event-Driven Application Development exam

Cost per Exam

$400 each ($2,000 total RHCA exam costs)


Self-study Materials

Red Hat skills assessments and other materials can be located on the training page. Red Hat Training includes multiple training options (online, classroom, self-paced, virtual, video and more). Red Hat Learning Subscription includes all online courses in one package; prices vary by geography, candidates can expect to pay $6,000 for a Basic Subscription and $7,000 for a Standard Subscription; study guides are on Amazon

Another certification to consider: The Linux Foundation

Outside the top four Linux credentials and programs covered in this article, The Linux Foundation certifications may be worthy of your time and attention.

The Linux Foundation, a membership-based organization, promotes the development of the Linux kernel through collaboration, conferences and education. The organization’s small but respected certification program includes the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS).

Many industry experts, including Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols, a long-time user and expert on Linux and Unix operating systems, say that certifications can be an important ingredient in a job candidate’s qualifications. But interviewers should also pay close attention to how many Linux systems candidates have set up, managed or used to get a sense of the scale and scope of their experience.

In other words, when you see a web hosting service advertising for Linux jobs, they’re not looking for people who’ve installed and used Linux at home or in a small business setting; they’re looking for professionals who’ve set up and managed Linux in a highly distributed and virtualized data center environment, with lots of complex networking and services coming into the mix.

Choosing the right certification

Choosing the right certification pathway can help boost your overall skills, knowledge and employability. However, it can be difficult to evaluate exactly which certification is best for you. Certification seekers should first consider whether they want a broader certification to demonstrate overall knowledge of Linux, such as from Linux+ or the LPIC exams, or whether they want to demonstrate knowledge of specific types of Linux, such as from Oracle or Red Hat. Once you’ve determined that, it is simply a question of finding the correct certification to match your skill level. 

Ultimately, pursuing any certification shows your willingness to learn, which will help you stand out to current and former employers. 

Ed Tittel and Earl Follis contributed to this article.

Jeremy Bender
Contributing Writer at
Jeremy Bender is an experienced writer, researcher, reporter, and editor with a decade of experience in the digital media and private intelligence industries. He previously reported on geopolitics and cybersecurity for Business Insider's Military & Defense vertical, before becoming the vertical's editor. More recently, Jeremy has worked as a threat intelligence editor at the Business Risk Intelligence company Flashpoint and as a security intelligence writer at NTT Security, where he covered topics such as ongoing cyber attack campaigns and critical threat intelligence.
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