Top 10 Certifications with Staying Power

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One could argue, and probably properly, that Windows should be listed over Linux as an operating system to know from a job perspective. It does have a long history, but it changes every few years - and Microsoft is trying to speed the pace up even more to roughly an annual update. There is great potential in earning the Microsoft MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) or higher-level certifications, but they change frequently and thus need a lot of maintenance to keep current. In addition, organizations often have many versions deployed, making the process and needed certifications even more complex. As Microsoft changes to a services company with an emphasis on cloud computing, knowing which certifications will be valuable in the coming years is difficult.

Linux comes in many flavors (known as distributions), and is often updated as well, but the basics that the certifications mentioned here discuss evolve more slowly and are more generally applicable across distributions and versions within a distribution. The basic syntax is often used in other operating systems as well, such as VMware, so having at least some knowledge of Linux commands will provide an advantage when working in those other environments.

CompTIA offers Linux+ in association with LPI (the Linux Professional Institute) and in fact, passing the Linux+ exams (there are two, covering different Linux topics) can gain the candidate LPIC-1 (entry level LPI certification), as well. It is vendor neutral and covers the basics that any junior-level Linux administrator should have. Information on Linux+ is available by referring to http://certification.comptia.org/getCertified/certifications/linux.aspx.

Red Hat offers the RHCE certification for more senior Linux administrators; earning this requires that the candidate already possess the RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator) credential and recertify every three years. Red Hat exams are performance based, meaning that a candidate is given a live system and graded on the ability to accomplish the tasks in the exam rather than simply answer multiple-choice questions. Red Hat offers many other certifications on specific capabilities or configurations of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as well. Information on the RHCE is available at http://www.redhat.com/training/certifications/rhce/.

Other Linux vendors have similar certification programs; Red Hat is listed here as the largest Linux vendor in the corporate arena.

IT is a very fast-changing industry - what is hot today may be a tiny niche market in only a few years and things that few have heard of may be huge trends in the same timeframe. That having been said, many certifications have a long life span, by which we don't mean that the certification is good for many years before it expires, but rather that the certification has been around and will be around (as best as the future is predictable) for a long time. This does not imply that recertification on new versions and/or continuing education credits are not required to maintain certification, however. Predicting the future is always challenging, not the least a future in IT, but these certifications are good bets.

The top 10 certifications that meet this criterion (in no particular order), identified by Global Knowledge instructor John Hales, include the following. Note that the certifications are broad in terms of topics covered and are not all strictly IT administrator-based.


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