As an IT professional, I find that certification has become more important over the years. Maybe this has to do with the economic climate – prospective customers and employers are more likely to talk to you if you have a couple of certifications on your resume. In my opinion, certifications that are based on multiple-choice exams offer little value – they merely test your ability to remember factoids.

The Red Hat certification exams are performance-based, so you really need to know your stuff and be able to apply it under considerable time pressure. This is why Red Hat certifications are received so well by customers and employers.

I’ve been a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE RHEL4) since 2005. I’m now aiming for their highest certification level offered, Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA). The RHCA certification requires you to pass 5 Expertise Exams on top of your RHCE certification; not an easy task.

In May 2009, I took my first Expertise exam, RH423 / EX423 (Directory Services and Authentication). In november 2010, I took one of the hardest exams in the RHCA track: RH442 / EX442 (System Monitoring and Performance Tuning). And boy, was it tough! I barely had 3 minutes left before the 4-hour exam was over and we had to “put down our keyboards” ;-)

Since the exams are subject to strict NDA, I cannot say anything about the content of the actual exam. You can look up the Exam Prep Guide for each Expertise on Red Hat’s website for a list of subjects covered in each course and exam.

So, what can you do to maximize your chance of passing the exams?

  1. Make sure you have plenty of actual experience with Linux
  2. Take the 4-day instructor-led course (usually offered as a bundle with the exam)
  3. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before the exam ;-)

I took the RH300 course for my RHCE RHEL4, and I plan to re-take the course for my upcoming RHCE RHEL6 renewal. That’s how useful I think the courses are!

The courses are jam-packed, but fun. I usually discover a couple of new ways to accomplish things under Linux – you can’t have enough tools in your Linux toolbox! The group discussions also add a lot of value – you’ll learn a lot from other people’s experience, usually involving breaking things in spectacular ways ;-)