System administration is a very popular area of IT. After all, every IT shop needs a competent SysAdmin. Those who aspire to become SysAdmins should look into one or more of these best system administrator certifications for 2016.
MCSE: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification has long ruled the hearts and minds of those who work on Microsoft-based systems and servers. MCSE certifications focus on the latest technologies for servers, desktops, private clouds, business intelligence, messaging, communication and collaboration, SharePoint, enterprise devices and applications, and data platforms.
The MCSE: Server Infrastructure targets IT professionals seeking to promote careers such as information security analysts or computer support specialists. Those obtaining the credential will find that the MCSE: Server Infrastructure credential is designed to validate the skills necessary to effectively run a data center, including networking, storage, systems management, virtualization and identity management.
LPIC: Linux Professional Institute Certifications
Although Windows rules the desktop and has widespread use in businesses and data centers,Linux is important for cloud-based operations, serving up applications, the Web and much of the Internet. This makes Linux system administration skills both extremely valuable and in high demand.
Linux platform suppliers and Linux distribution vendors, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Debian offer their own training and often certifications. However, the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) excels at providing a high-quality set of Linux certifications for system administrators that are relatively distribution-neutral.
LPI candidates must usually possess LPIC-2 or LPIC-3 credentials to be successful in the workplace, but we include the LPIC-1 certification in our list because it's a necessary prerequisite to the LPIC-2, which in turn leads to the LPIC-3.
Both the LPIC-2 certification and the LPIC-3 (Mixed Environment) are well-known and widely recognized in IT shops and operations that depend on Linux servers to handle their workloads. The LPIC-3 specialties are somewhat less well-known and less frequently referenced in job postings. However, they do provide relevant coverage of key topics for Linux system administrators. This goes double in the areas of security and virtualization -- both are in very high demand right now.
RHCE: Red Hat Certified Engineer
In the realm of Linux system administrator certifications, the Red Hat certifications really stand out. Especially Red Hat's more senior level certifications, which are becoming popular among IT professionals as well as HR departments.
The Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) is regarded as a high-level credential that's not easy to obtain. Candidates must first obtain the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) credential and then pass a three and a half hour, hands-on, performance-based exam that's intense and demanding. Those who earn the RHCE can go on to earn other popular Red Hat credentials including:
- Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA)
- Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)
The current exam is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. Those who still need to certify on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 may do so until March 31, 2016.
VCP6-DCV: VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Center Virtualization
The VMware family of certifications are must-have credentials for IT professionals interested in the field of virtualization. Offering a complete certification roadmap encompassing all skills levels, VMware credentials are recognized globally as best of class.
As with the V5 (VMware Certified Professional 5 - Data Center Virtualization / VCP5-DCV) credentials, VMware continues to offer candidates an entry-level cert in the form of the VMware Certified Associate 6 - Data Center Virtualization (VCA6-DCV) followed by the next tier on the certification ladder, the VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV). The VCP6-DCV is a professional-level certification that prepares credential holders for more advanced certifications including the VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX6-DCV) and the pinnacle cert, VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-DCV).
CompTIA offers a long list of entry-level certifications, such as the A+ for hardware technicians, Network+ for network admins and Security+ for security specialists, all of which are highly regarded in the computing industry. The CompTIA Server+ certification is no exception. Companies like Dell, IBM, HP, Lenovo, Xerox and Intel recommend or require their server technicians to earn CompTIA Server+ certification.
The Server+ certification exam focuses on foundational server-related topics that are vendor-neutral in nature, including server hardware, operating systems, storage systems, the IT environment (documentation, diagrams and best practices), disaster recovery, virtualization and troubleshooting.
The Server+ credential, along with sufficient experience, is a great asset for individuals seeking a position as a server or network administrator, systems engineer or website administrator. You can also consider it as a stepping stone to a more focused certification, such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) or the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA).