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Old 07-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #1
yanom
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Lightbulb Getting a linux certification as a high school student?


I'm currently a high school student, and I've been using Linux on the desktop for about five years now. About a year and a half ago, I set up a Linux server for the first time to run a Minecraft server for my friends. Since then, I learned how to set up a webserver as well. I'm liking this, and I think I may want to be a linux sysadmin.

So, where do I start? I recently learned about the RHCSA certification, and looking at their objectives (http://www.rhcsaexam.com/rhcsa-objectives/) it seems to be a basic linux server-administration certification.

How hard is it? Would it be practical to try and get this certificiation while still a high school student? I'm thinking it will help me get into college / get a job once I graduate.
 
Old 07-03-2012, 05:56 PM   #2
SaintDanBert
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I applaud your energy and engagement. A hundred years ago, I worked for IBM -- yes, big blue -- fixing electro-mechanical machines to handle punched cards. I was a Senior in High School, dark solid color suir, solid color tie, long sleeved white shirt, dirt and oil and grease ... and fun. I vote that you go for whatever you are interested and willing to pursue.

If you think about it, anyone with a computer a printer and fancy paper can print a really nice "certificate".
My favorite is a "DLLD Degree" I got years ago. Lots of Latin and "whereas" and "be it resolved" formalizm, callligraphy and such. "DLLD?" It is "Doctor of Life's Little Disappointments." I don't want to demean the certification effort in general. We computer folks do a pretty poor job of making sure that practitioners have at least bought one clue before we turn them loose making software that might hold lives in tow (eg, auto braking systems and aircraft anything).

"Certification" means a lot of different things depending on who you ask. The general impression is that some independent party is willing to state publicly that you know something and can do some things. Doctors(MD), nurses, EMT's, attorneys, accountants(CPA), engineers(PE) all have professional organizations who "certify" that the named person has the required knowledge and skills. These certifications are well respected almost everywhere.

Computer certifications are new on the scene in the grand scheme of things and so the people who issue certifications are not as widely known or respected by all concerned. You mentioned Red Hat certification.
The most that says is "Red Hat (somehow) says that ____named person____ knows about Red Hat things."
If you replace "Red Hat" with any vendor or software publisher like Cisco, Micro$oft, HP, etc. you get a different view of the same thing.

There are non-vendor, non-publisher folks who offer certifications as well. For example, Linux Professional Institute and Comp-TIA. The latter is a variation on the LPI offering. To me, the farther you get from software vendors, the more independent the certification organization is likely to be. The more independent the certificate grantor is, the more value I would place on the certification.

There are college and university certificates as well. These tend to be more formal, "technical school" oriented endeavors that run the gamut of topics and quality and value.

I took a Master's Degree in computer science, Georgia Tech, 1979 and worked as a software developer until 2001. I continue working as a technical writer and software writer, but now it is small projects of all sorts.
I've also taught computer science at the undergraduate, university level. Make sure that you learn things that you know and things you can do -- knowledge and skills -- from any effort. A truly useful certification will test both -- knowledge and skills. Anyone can learn a bunch of facts and pass a test that requires them to repeat the facts they learned. SKILLS on the other hand require integration of knowledge with topic specific problem solving abilities.

Best of luck!!!

Keep us posted on your progress,
~~~ 0;-Dan
Austin, TX
 
Old 07-03-2012, 07:08 PM   #3
yanom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintDanBert View Post
You mentioned Red Hat certification.
The most that says is "Red Hat (somehow) says that ____named person____ knows about Red Hat things."
If you replace "Red Hat" with any vendor or software publisher like Cisco, Micro$oft, HP, etc. you get a different view of the same thing.
So the RedHat certification isn't taken seriously? How hard is it to get anyway?

So what certification agency can give me a sysadmin certification that's widely accepted and (as far as possible) feasible for a high school student to get?
 
Old 07-03-2012, 07:18 PM   #4
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In the UK. at least, I've seen a good few Linux sys-admin jobs and whilst there is the usual mention of experience the name Red Hat crops up a lot.
If you can afford it, and get it without affecting your high school work, I would say go for it. Again, I can only talk about the UK but Junior Linux sys-admin jobs tend to pay higher than Windows and a bright kid who knows their stuff enough to get a certificate ought to be able to grab one. Without the cert I'd still say if you know your stuff you're on the right track but I think the cert would make your CV stand out.
I'm only a junior sys-admin type myself but considerably older than high school -- I base my opinions on speaking to recruiters, reading lots of job adverts, and being on the receiving end of some interviews.
 
Old 07-03-2012, 07:32 PM   #5
yanom
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Originally Posted by 273 View Post
In the UK. at least, I've seen a good few Linux sys-admin jobs and whilst there is the usual mention of experience the name Red Hat crops up a lot.
If you can afford it, and get it without affecting your high school work, I would say go for it.
great! Can anyone who's taken the test tell me what's on it? I can't afford (in money or time commitment) the 5-day, $2500 RHCSA boot camp offered in my city, so I'll need to study from a book. Any book recommendations?
 
Old 07-04-2012, 07:49 AM   #6
mike_rhce
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Dear yanom,

Red Hat certifications are unique, because they're all "hands-on". In other words, during a Red Hat exam, you solve actual problems on real Linux systems.

Other certifications consist of "just" multiple choice questions. A few certifications are a bit more difficult, because they include "fill-in-the-blank" questions. The Red Hat exams go further. Much further.

The problems that you might solved during a Red Hat exam all relate to published objectives listed on the Red Hat site. For example, the following page http://www.redhat.com/training/cours.../examobjective includes objectives for the RHCSA exam.

Take the following objective as a simple example:

Quote:
Install Red Hat Enterprise Linux automatically using Kickstart.
That suggests that not only do you need to know how to use Kickstart to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, but also you might be asked to demonstrate that skill during the RHCSA exam.
 
Old 07-04-2012, 09:52 AM   #7
yanom
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Originally Posted by mike_rhce View Post
Dear yanom,

Red Hat certifications are unique, because they're all "hands-on". In other words, during a Red Hat exam, you solve actual problems on real Linux systems.

Other certifications consist of "just" multiple choice questions. A few certifications are a bit more difficult, because they include "fill-in-the-blank" questions. The Red Hat exams go further. Much further.

The problems that you might solved during a Red Hat exam all relate to published objectives listed on the Red Hat site. For example, the following page http://www.redhat.com/training/cours.../examobjective includes objectives for the RHCSA exam.

Take the following objective as a simple example:



That suggests that not only do you need to know how to use Kickstart to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, but also you might be asked to demonstrate that skill during the RHCSA exam.
I should be O.K. with this, because I've learned Linux in the "real world" with no formal training. Also, is CentOS a workable training replacement for RHEL?
 
Old 07-04-2012, 10:42 AM   #8
mike_rhce
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Yup, CentOS and Scientific Linux are both built from the RHEL 6 source code released under various open source licenses.

Good luck!
 
Old 07-04-2012, 12:53 PM   #9
SaintDanBert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yanom View Post
So the RedHat certification isn't taken seriously? How hard is it to get anyway?

So what certification agency can give me a sysadmin certification that's widely accepted and (as far as possible) feasible for a high school student to get?
I am not saying that vendor specific certifications, like Red HatŪ, are not taken seriously.

I meant to communicate the existence of relative value among all of the available certifications, their granting organizations, and the employers who hire folks. Clearly, a Red Hat shop will value "Red Hat" branded certifications differently than some general "linux" (lower case intentional) certification.

I also meant to communicate the concern that holding some certification means more to you than holding other certifications. A certification process that involves learning details, learning problem solving skills, hands-on manipulation of the target environment, and testing of both your knowledge and skills is likely to mean more because you have learned more. A certificate where you simply read-then-test your memory of what you read might not mean as much.

As a high school student working for IBM, I took every employee training course that my branch office would let me take. My goal was learning. I earned several "completion certificates" that applied to job advancement. Some even resulted in better pay. But I was in High School -- later undergraduate school -- so the learning was most important.

My Recommendation -- Seek and earn any certification that interests you and that you can afford to acquire. Spread your attention around by training on different distributions and different aspects of Linux systems. It is all fun, but you will find something that really lights your fire.

Good luck and stay in touch,
~~~ 0;-Dan
 
Old 07-04-2012, 01:02 PM   #10
SaintDanBert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yanom View Post
great! Can anyone who's taken the test tell me what's on it? I can't afford (in money or time commitment) the 5-day, $2500 RHCSA boot camp offered in my city, so I'll need to study from a book. Any book recommendations?
(laugh) Now you don't want to train for the test just so you can pass, do you? (grin)

There are all sorts of books and training materials available for the knowledge part of the certification effort.
The hard part is getting the skills training. The skills often demand finding and fixing problems with system behavior and performance. If you plant a problem, you know in advance what you are looking for.

One way to get real world problem solving skill would be to do volunteer support work for churches and private schools, retirement homes and such. Who knows? Some might even pay a few dollars. I do a "computer literacy" class at my church that teaches email and digital cameras and such to older folks and folks seeking better computer skills working toward a better job. I get paid in cookies... (laugh)

Good luck,
~~~ 0;-Dan
 
  


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