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A New Day, a New Certification: Red Hat Certified Technician

A New Approach to Red Hat Certification

  • January 16, 2003
  • By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

So you know something about Unix or Linux, but you're not quite up for a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) or a Linux Professional Institute LPI Certification (LPIC) Level 2 certification? Well, then, Red Hat has a certification for you: the Red Hat Certified Technician.

This certification, according to Red Hat, is a mid-level, lab-based title is for anyone "transitioning to Linux from other UNIX operating systems, or who want to prove their competencies at a midway point on the way to RHCE."

What that means in practice is that to get this certification you have to pass a pass/fail hands-on examination. In this three hour RHCT Certification Lab Exam, you'll face two challenges. In the first one-hour part, you're presented with a Red Hat 8.0 system that you must diagnose and troubleshoot. In the second, two-hour part of the exam, you must install a Red Hat system and attach it to a network with such services as DNS, DHCP, and NFS.

The skills you'll be tested on include: creating and maintaining the Linux file system, user and group administration use RPMs for new software and updating the kernel and configuring the X Window System and GNOME. The exact details will vary, but the bottom line is that to pass the exam you must be able to install a Red Hat system in a typical network environment and show that you know how to find and fix commonplace Red Hat operating systems problems.

The overall goal of the RHCT, according to Peter Childers, vice president of Global Learning Services at Red Hat is to, "prepare a new cadre of certified Linux technicians--journeymen system administrators who set up and support Linux systems throughout production networks, who have earned RHCT and are on their way to an RHCE."

The last comment is a telling one. You see, the RHCT, while a new certification and a new exam, can also be thought of as just a subset of the RHCE. The major prerequisite to taking the RHCT test is the RH133 Red Hat Linux System Administration class. People who've already know the RHCE path will find that it's essentially the same course as the mid-level RH131 Red Hat Linux System Administration class.

In short, if you're trying to get ready for a RHCT, you can use the sections in any guides to the RHCT up to and including the RH131 for your study. If you feel you're already ready for the RHCT test, you can simply take the RH202 RHCT Exam, for $349.

Indeed, according to one Red Hat representative, a candidate that takes the RHCE exam and only passes some of its sections will have those passed sections counted toward the RHCT--so a failed RHCE candidate could end up with a RHCT.

It, like any Linux certification, may or may not help you get a job. As a new certification, it will take a while before employers get to know it and trust it. As Rob Jones, president of HotLinuxJobs says, "We have not received any specific comments about the RHCT from our clients. Most are just learning about the RHCE."

Still, Jones thinks that, "Since the RHCT is a hands-on certification, like the RHCE, we think it is a good standard for companies to use. It will demonstrate a candidate's base knowledge of Linux in a networked environment. We think it is much more valuable to a company to know the candidate has hands-on experience with a product than just passing a multiple choice type test." I expect that we will "see quite a few RHCTs."

And, you might be one of them, Announced in November 2002, the testing for the RHCT begins this month, starting on January 13th 2003 at Red Hat Certified Training Partners locations. For a full listing of sites in Canada and the US, see the Red Hat's Course Location guide. If you live outside these areas, see Red Hat's Worldwide Training Contacts.

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