Operating system security

Certifications compared: Linux+ vs RHCSA/RHCE [2022 update]

September 22, 2022 by Daniel Brecht

There’s a growing demand for open-source professionals (OSPs) to fill shortage gaps. Companies are relentlessly looking for candidates with the skills necessary to support their Linux/UNIX systems.

According to the Linux Foundation’s 10th Annual Open-Source Jobs Report, released in June 2022, 86% of the surveyed hiring managers mentioned hiring open-source talent as a priority for 2022, and 93% reported difficulty finding professionals with the needed open-source experience. 

Many employers rely on credential reviews to hire professionals with the right skill set. 69% of hiring managers reported they would be more likely to hire someone with a certification, especially related to skills in cloud, container and orchestration systems, with a focus on DevOps practices. Understandably, 81% of open-source professionals plan to acquire a related certification in their 2022 learning plan.

Linux+ Certification

The Linux+ certification is one of the certifications that have been in high demand. The new CompTIA Linux+ (XK0-005) exam launched July 12, 2022, was updated to better reflect skills needed today by OSPs. The credential now focuses more on containerization of systems running Linux and its use in IoT applications, automation and scripting, Docker and Kubernetes.

This credential is a popular option because it is job-focused and covers all the basics while being relevant to all major distributions of Linux. It’s a good stepping stone towards more advanced or vendor-specific credentials such as the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) or the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), which are intermediate and advanced options offered by one of the leading Linux distribution providers. Red Hat has vendor-provided training and practical certification path for those who desire to work with their products across various environments.

Whether you’re new to Linux, experienced, or a master of this open-source platform, one of these certifications may be the right fit. Read on to find out which credential might be best to pursue.

CompTIA vs. Red Hat for Linux training and certification

CompTIA and Red Hat offer a job-relevant, hands-on training curriculum, each with a robust, performance-based certification program for interested Linux OSPs. Each education provider can help grow your skills and validate your expertise: CompTIA and Red Hat have multiple ways to train, whether online or in a classroom, with access to course content and hours of hands-on practice via a remote lab environment to prepare you for certification exams. The focus, however, varies.

CompTIA Linux+

This non-vendor certification tests an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities to build, use and manage Linux operating systems. CompTIA Linux+ is a good option for IT professionals with at least 12 months of hands-on experience administering Linux operating systems in a junior Linux support engineer or junior cloud/DevOps support engineer role.

CompTIA Linux+ covers multiple distributions and validating skills for system management and troubleshooting. The test focuses on automation, scripting and virtualization, in addition to Linux configurations and operations on-premises and cloud-based server environments using security best practices. (For specifics, see the CompTIA Linux+ Certification Exam Objectives for XK0-005.)

The new CompTIA Linux+ (XK0-005) consists of a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions, lasts 90 minutes and has a passing score of 720 (on a scale of 100 to 900). This test is currently available only in English and costs $358. Note: You will need to schedule the exam session at a Pearson VUE testing center, the authorized provider of CompTIA exams. There is also an online testing option powered by Pearson OnVUE, a remote exam proctoring service.

Who is CompTIA Linux+ most suitable for? 

Linux administrators or engineers, software developers, cybersecurity engineers and penetration testers. The certification can also fit the career progression of tech support specialists and web and network administrators.

How to best prepare for the CompTIA Linux certification

To prepare for the Linux+ certification and successfully pass the exam, candidates can obtain the Official CompTIA Student Guide eBook, which can be bundled with CertMaster Practice and Labs. Each of the training companion tools will reinforce and test what professionals know and can help close knowledge gaps. Linux+ boot camps also come with an Exam Pass Guarantee. 

Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

A vendor-specific option, the EX200 exam tests individuals on areas of system administration common across various environments and deployment scenarios based on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 9.0. RHCSA is a good option for Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators and professionals who are on the path to becoming a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE).

The exam costs $400; it lasts three hours and is based on hands-on practice tackling real-life tasks. Candidates have no access to notes, books and internet connections (in the in-person version). You can test at remote sessions, your location, a testing station, or a Red Hat® classroom. To pass the exam, you must achieve a minimum of 70% (210 marks out of 300).

Who is RHCSA suitable for? 

RHCSA is for experienced Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators and DevOps professionals.

This certification for the RHCSA will verify your ability to perform several tasks across IT environments — on-site and across clouds — as required in some of the world’s most demanding data centers with the deployment of Linux on multiple architectures.

Red Hat keeps its certification program up to date with technology trends. In particular, the test focuses currently on using tools, operating running systems, configuring local storage, creating and configuring file systems, deploying and maintaining systems, basic networking and managing groups and security across its Enterprise Linux® products.

As mentioned on the official website, an RHCSA will need to perform the following tasks:

  • Understand and use essential tools for handling files, directories, command-line environments, and documentation
  • Create simple shell scripts
  • Operate running systems, identify processes, start and stop virtual machines, and securely transfer files between systems
  • Configure local storage using partitions and logical volumes
  • Create and configure file systems and file system attributes, working with permissions, encryption and access control lists
  • Deploy, configure, and maintain systems, including software installation, update, and core services
  • Manage basic networking using configuration options and firewalls restrictions
  • Manage users and groups
  • Manage security, including basic firewall and SELinux configuration
  • Managing containers

Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

A sought-after credential for professionals who were previously certified as RHCSA and are now ready to certify their ability to automate Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® tasks for efficiency and innovation. They can opt to become an RHCE® through the EX294, which tests to determine if individuals have the knowledge, skills and abilities of a senior system administrator responsible for Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® systems.

Who is this certification most suitable for? 

This credential is designed for experienced Red Hat Enterprise Linux system engineers and Ansible Engineers – DevOps and Automation.

What’s on the RHCE exam?

The RHCE is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux® 8.4 and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 1.2. and is a hands-on, 4-hour lab-based exam that requires candidates to undertake real-world tasks in system configuration and management, network services and database services. The cost is $400. To pass, you must achieve a minimum of 70% in the examination — i.e., at least 210 marks out of 300.

The exam focuses on demonstrating a broader knowledge and understanding of Ansible best practices, utilizing scripting to automate tasks, integrating emerging technologies and applying automation for efficiency and innovation.

An RHCE must be able to perform the following tasks:

  • Be able to perform all tasks expected of a Red Hat Certified System Administrator operating and running systems
  • Understand core components of Ansible
  • Install and configure an Ansible control node
  • Configure Ansible managed nodes
  • Script administration tasks
  • Create Ansible plays and playbooks
  • Use Ansible modules for system administration tasks that work with services, file systems and content, firewall rules, scheduled tasks, users and groups etc.
  • Work with roles
  • Use advanced Ansible features

What is the best way to prepare for the RHCSA and RHCE exams?

You are not required to complete specific courses to qualify for a Red Hat certification exam. However, several options are available, including online training and video classroom formats with lab hours and e-book downloads, to fill skill gaps and prepare you for the performance-based exam for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (EX294).

Red Hat has testing centers at 170 locations worldwide. Search by country to find the location nearest you.

For the RHCSA certification and RHCE certification, candidates can purchase the “Red Hat Learning Subscription” to check out release notes, videos, discussions and more on exam topics (which requires logging in to your Red Hat account) and have access to several training solutions. In addition, books like the RHCSA/RHCE Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Certification Study Guide, Eighth Edition (Exams EX200 & EX294) may be helpful.

Linux+ vs RHCSA/RHCE 

We live in a connected world of technologies that rely on open-source technologies. There has never been a better time to acquire and validate Linux skills than now. Employers are seeking professionals with open-source experience. 

Linux+, RHCSA and RHCE are valuable in helping professionals show their mastery and pinpointing the knowledge required to work in open-source environments.

Linux+ is vendor-neutral and can offer a baseline of the required knowledge. RHCSA is a more hands-on, real-world test for professionals already in that line of work or looking for new positions administering Red Hat products. And to stand out from the pack of professionals, the RHCE certification can validate several years of experience to help progress on the career ladder.


Posted: September 22, 2022
Daniel Brecht
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Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. His interests include computers, mobile devices and cyber security standards. He has enjoyed writing on a variety of topics ranging from cloud computing to application development, web development and e-commerce. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology.