Linux Certified Professional (LCP) Certification and Degree Program Info
A Linux Certified Professional (LCP) has demonstrated expert knowledge of the Linux operating systems by earning professional certification. LCP credentials are offered through industry organizations and vendors. Some colleges also offer certificate and associate's degree programs in UNIX and Linux system administration, and a few prepare students specifically for a credential examination.
UNIX/Linux System Administration Certificate
Completing a certificate program in UNIX and Linux system administration can prepare an individual to take the Linux certification examinations and become LCP certified. Such programs are typically offered through technical schools and extension departments of 4-year universities. They are designed to provide IT professionals, such as computer programmers and system administrators, with specialized training in UNIX and Linux operating systems.
Students should have a working understanding of information technology, networking and administration before enrolling in a certificate program in Linux system administration. Prior academic training might not be required, though schools with limited-admissions programs often give preference to applicants with professional experience in the information technology (IT) field.
Students enrolled in a UNIX/Linux certificate program learn how to master the basic skills of the Linux operating system, including local network data access, command interpretation, system configuration and file editing, protection and management. Courses also teach fundamental Linux system networking, programming and security options. A few examples of course topics include:
- Linux installation
- Linux operating system administration
- Open source programming
- Linux services and configurations
- Linux Web database servers
- Linux system security
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a certificate program could qualify for entry-level positions in the IT field. Some options include:
- Systems engineer
- Linux network administrator
- Open source programmer
- Information security specialist
- Web server administrator
CompTIA, a vendor-neutral IT organization, includes a Linux+ administration credential among its certification options. The Linux Professional Institute also offers three levels of general Linux administration certifications, including Junior (LPIC-1), Advanced (LPIC-2) and Senior Level Linux Professional (LPIC-3) designations. Additionally, Novell offers certifications based on the SuSE version of the operating system. In addition to Novell's Certified Linux Professional credential, Linux experts can also test for desktop and server administrator designations, as well as a Linux engineer credential. Red Hat provides administration and engineering credentials based on its own distribution of the Linux operating system.
Associate's Degree in Linux Network Management
Community colleges and vocational schools also offer associate's degree programs in networking and security management that include a focus on Linux networks and systems. Applicants usually only need a high school diploma, though some schools request a basic understanding of computer operating systems before enrolling. Graduates gain skills and knowledge to qualify for careers as Linux network administrators and networking engineers.
Linux training courses are practical in nature and designed to provide students with skills that prepare them for certification and an eventual career. Much like certificate programs in the field, an associate's degree program teaches students how to install, maintain and configure Linux operating systems. Courses provide skills training in Linux system security management and network administration. Some core and elective course topics include:
- Linux system security management
- Network programming
- Web development
- Linux file system architecture
- Encryption and authentication
- Cisco networking administration
- Scripting and open source programming
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer system administrators, including Linux administrators, held nearly 339,000 jobs across the country in 2009 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the majority worked for computer systems design companies, private businesses, telecommunications carriers and schools. The projected demand for network administrators between 2008 and 2018 was expected to grow 23%, per BLS data.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering and Network Technology
Computer information technology or network technology majors also offer courses related specifically to Linux systems. While those courses are not necessarily the focal point of the bachelor's degree program, they can prepare students for Linux certification. Some programs offer internship opportunities that could introduce students to practical applications in Linux server and network administration, troubleshooting and programming.
To enroll in a bachelor's degree program, students need to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Before taking courses in Linux administration, students are often required to complete prerequisites in basic networking essentials, administration and security. Students should also have a thorough understanding of computer operating systems.
Bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering and network technology usually only contain one or two courses related specifically to Linux systems. However, those courses combine theory and lab work and usually cover a range of Linux-related topics. Students learn the basics of file system administration, document processing, data redundancy, configuration and user administration. They also study specific Linux concepts, such as the operating system's kernel and daemons. Some topics related to beginning and advanced Linux administration include:
- Server-side programming tools
- Email and networking protocols
- Spam filtering techniques
- History of open source and free software
- IBM PC architecture
- System navigation and commands
Career Salary Information
According to a 2010 salary survey conducted by Global Knowledge and TechRepublic, income levels for certified Linux professionals exceeded those of several other technology- and vendor-certified IT experts (www.globalknowledge.com). Those with Novell CLP and Red Hat engineer certifications reported median annual salaries of nearly $93,000 each. Red Hat certified technicians, administrators and specialists made a median of $85,000 per year, and CompTIA Linux+ certifications demanded annual earnings of almost $70,000.
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