Open source is the new normal for startups and large enterprises looking to stay competitive in the digital economy. That means that open source is now also a viable long-term career path.
“It is important to start thinking about the career road map, and the pathway that you can take and how Linux and open source in general can help you meet your career goals,” said Clyde Seepersad, general manager of training at The Linux Foundation, in a recent webinar.
Certification is one clear path with real career benefits. Forty-four percent of hiring managers in our recent 2016 Open Source Jobs Report said they’re more likely to hire certified candidates. And 76 percent of open source pros surveyed believe certifications lead to a career boost.
The Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Certified Engineer (LFCE) exams are great opportunities for sysadmins to polish and prove their skills. The exams are available online to anyone in the world at any time. They’re also performance based, working within a Linux server terminal and overseen by a proctor. Because the format is not multiple choice, even seasoned pros will need some preparation in order to avoid common mistakes and complete the exam within the time limit.
To help you prepare for the certification exam, and a long and successful sysadmin career, we’ve gathered some tips, below, from Linux Foundation certified sysadmins who have completed the LFCS or LFCE exams.
“Experience is key. Spin up a VM, take a fresh snapshot of it and go to work applying all the requirements of the exam in practice. When you feel you have satisfied all the exam topics thoroughly, apply that fresh snapshot to revert changes and begin again until it is second nature. Also, feel comfortable with man pages; they are your best friend when Google is not an option.”
– Chris Van Horn, Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and a “Debian guy.”
2. Give it time
“The best preparation is your experience. If you feel that you have enough experience with the topics required by the exam, you can give it a try. Otherwise, you have to work hard to get those skills.
Don’t think that in a short time you can learn everything.”
– Dashamir Hoxha, LFCS, an Ubuntu user and open source contributor.
3. Learn how to use man pages
“If you haven’t already, get familiar with the man pages. Know what they are and how to use them efficiently.
No matter how much you study, you can’t learn everything, and if you could, you wouldn’t retain it all anyway. The man pages will fill in the gaps.”
– William Brawner, LFCS, and Arch Linux user who plans to take the LFCE exam next.
4. Understand the material, don’t just memorize it
“Forget recipes, it’s not about memorization. Understand what are you doing by reading some books and documentation that give you a deep background of the tasks you’ll perform at the exam and in real life.
Imagine real problems and try to solve them.”
– Francisco Tsao, LFCE, self-professed Debian fanboy and Fedora contributor.
5. The boring stuff is still important
“Do not rely on one book only! Study and practice…even the stuff that you find mundane.
A portion of the tasks are boring, but you cannot avoid them.”
– George Doumas, LFCS, and a fan of Scientific Linux, openSUSE, and Linux Mint.
6. Follow the instructions
“For experienced professionals, I recommend that they prepare the environment for the exam, and follow the instructions. It’s not a difficult exam if you work daily with Linux.
On the other hand, for newcomers, apart from having a look to open/free resources, I just encourage them to set up a Linux environment at home and get their hands dirty!!”
– Jorge Tudela Gonzalez de Riancho, LFCS, Debian user and Raspberry Pi enthusiast.
7. Have fun!
“Make sure you love what you are doing, and do not forget to have fun, to experiment, and then to do it all over again and again, and make sure you learn something new each time.”
– Gabriel Canepa, LFCS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux admin and technical writer.
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