[lpi-discuss] NetworkWorld editor looking for feedback on Linux certifications (in article on Red Hat Security certification)

Ross E. Brunson ross at brunson.org
Thu Oct 20 18:56:07 EDT 2005

One of the things I love about Bryan is that until he joined this list, 
it was me who was the Certification Whore with all the alphabet soup 
behind my name, now I'm just one of the camp followers.... 8-)


Bryan J. Smith wrote:

>Dan York <dyork at Lodestar2.com> wrote:
>>lpi-discuss folks,
>>FYI, a Network World newsletter out yesterday talks about a
>>new security certification coming out of Red Hat, but the
>>newsletter author also asks if Linux certifications have
>>helped anyone.
>Phil Hochmuth wrote:
>>The market is flooded with IT certifications. As far as
>>Linux goes, what certifications (if any) matter to you?
>>Has a vendor-specific, or general Linux certification
>>(such as those offered by the Linux Professional Institute)
>>ever landed you a job? Or are these just nice pieces of
>>paper to have on the wall?  As always, I'm interested to
>>hear readers' opinions on this topic.
>As I mentioned before, I've taken the Linux+, all 4 LPI exams
>(LPIC-2) and the RHCE:  
>I have also taken 4 or more exams from Cisco (6), CIW (4),
>CompTIA (6), Microsoft (9) and Sun (4) as well as a few
>others from Citrix (2), Novell (2), etc...  Nearly all of
>these were done in over 15 months (with a few breaks between
>when clients had me working excessive hours) from 2002-2003
>at my own expense (well over $5,000 in just exam fees, I had
>no formal training).  What I can tell you -- after over 40 IT
>exams -- is that the LPI and Red Hat exams are far better
>than other vendor-neutral or vendor-specific exams,
>respectively.  The only Linux exam that is a joke is the
>CompTIA Linux+, which you can pass from 100% book knowledge.
>Now I've sounded off regularly on what I think of the
>certification market.  Before 2001, I used to think my
>traditional engineering degree and over a decade of
>engineering and technology experience would land me any
>client or position.  But after getting laid off twice in the
>downsizing of 2001, I found that having experience wasn't
>It's not the hiring or technology managers, it's the HR or
>procurement departments in the case of employment and
>contracts, respectively.  With a glutton of technology
>workers seeking employment, those little letters quickly
>became "filters" to trash resumes for not having them, or
>ways for recruiters to reduce the number candidates they look
>at.  It has definitely helped me land clients and now my
>first permanent job in 4 years, even though the end
>engineering or technology departments and their employees
>could care less.
>In fact, it's almost a catch-22 or dare I call it "catch-33"
>(BSE + certs + experience) at times.  It's bad enough that
>some IT workers dislike me because I have a traditional
>engineering degree -- which is _not_ something I hold over
>anyone.  I'm the first one to admit a traditional engineering
>degree is _not_ practical for technology.  But now that I
>have a cert orgy behind my name, that requires even more
>In most cases, just telling people I consider them worthless
>is enough.  In fact, as much as I have all 24 logos on a
>"cert logo sheet" to get past the HR/procurement departments,
>there is disclaimer at the bottom basically saying that
>certifications  do not represent actual experience, and
>candidates should be considered based on actual experience. 
>But still get commentary about both the BSE and the certs, no
>matter how much I play them down.
>As I always say, I have to have all my credentials to please
>the majority of my clients and prospective clients, but there
>are plenty of credentials for people not to like at the same
>time.  But in the end, I didn't like it when I was turned
>down for work because I didn't have a credential a client
>considered necessary.  Which is why I have achived both
>LPIC-2 (took all 4 exams in rapid-fire succession) and the
>RHCE ("cold turkey," Friday exam-only, not the week-long
>crash course + exam), and even the Linux+ or the 5 other
>CompTIA "plus" certs because some people consider them
>In fact, I've met numerous people who consider the MCSE to be
>such a paper cert that they expect everyone to have it.  Even
>more enfuriating is the fact the majority of IT professionals
>compare the RHCE to the MCSE, even though the RHCE is a
>day-long, hands-on laboratory exam.  But at least one good
>thing about having both (among other certifications) is that
>I'm in a first-hand knowlegeable position to credit or
>discredit certifications.
>So, again, compared to Cisco, Citrix, CIW, CompTIA,
>Microsoft, Novell and Sun, the programs from LPI and Red Hat
>are nearly ideal representatives of what a vendor-neutral
>computer-based and a vendor-centric lab-based, respectively,
>examination can be.
>-- Bryan J. Smith
>   Independent Technical Author and Consultant

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