Certification is always an investment. Is the CompTIA Linux+ certification really worth the cost in 2020? Working on new skills and learning a new technology is always going to take time. This certification is likely going to take a few months to the better part of a year. Are you ready to invest your precious time and energy for the Linux+ this year?
Yes, if you are brand new to the Linux World and ready to dive headfirst, then the Linux+ can help you meet your goals. It has the weight that HR personnel, as well as hiring managers, recognize immediately. If you want to stand out from the crowd, that may have only taken either their Linux+ or Network+, then this is definitely the way to go. This is a top tier certification offered by CompTIA.
I recently wrote an article about why everyone needs to learn Linux this year. You can read that article here.
Overview of the Linux+ Certification
CompTIA Linux+ validates the skills of IT professionals with hands-on experience configuring, monitoring, and supporting servers running the Linux operating system. The new exam has an increased focus on the following topics: security, kernel modules, storage & visualization, device management at an enterprise level, git & automation, networking & firewalls, server side & command line, server (vs. client-based) coverage, troubleshooting and SELinux.Offical Comptia Discription of the CompTIA Linux+ Exam
CompTIA – Vendor-neutral certification company
Before diving into the world of Linux with CompTIA’s Linux+ certification, keep in mind it is vendor-neutral. What this means that though CompTIA works alongside the major vendors of each industry they design tests for, they do not choose one of the others. The fact that Linux is so broad that if you used a few different distributions of Linux you will know that each one has different commands and different ways they approach a problem. Don’t let that deter you from taking the exam, but understand that when you move between the different flavors of Linux you will encounter different options and commands to perform the same functions.
From the point of view of a new career, not know exactly what Linux distribution you will be on, knowing a little of everything will help. In the industry right now you will see different distributions for different purposes. Right now a small player in the marker for kiosks is Porteus. When it comes to servers, you will see many Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers. For developers, maybe you will see openSUSE quite often. If you have not made your mind up on the exact career path in the Linux world, then the Linux+ would be worth looking closely at.
Cost of Exam
The cost of the exam is $319 USD. For some people, that may be a high amount, but I believe the return, in the long run, is worth the investment. That said, you will need to probably spend money on training videos and study books. That will increase the cost. There is also the cost of time. Typically exams like this will take 3 – 6 months of study with about 7-10 hours per week. If you want to get into Linux though, there are not many other options for you. Despite the investment, earning the Linux+ can still be worth it in 2020.
Format of Exam
When I took this exam over 15 years ago, it was one single exam. For a time it diverged into two examples with one being more challenging than the other. Now they have returned to the single exam format. Some people may have mixed views with this. One exam is easier to go in and walk out with everything in one day. However, for newer people, getting the first easier exam helps gain confidence for the second exam. This would be a personal preference.
The exam is self will have the standard multiple-choice as found on most tests. These multiple chose questions though may have one or more answers. Some will be fill-in-the-blank questions, be prepared for those questions. Make sure to always read the questions thoroughly. Another thing to look out for is what they have what is referred to as performance-based questions. These are like labs and give you a real-world type scenario to fix. Be sure to get hands-on experience and not just study a book for this test.
How much time will you have?
You will have 90 minutes to take the test with close to 90 questions. This averages to about one minute per question. Take your time, but try not to spend more than a few minutes on one question. some questions you will probably be able to answer within a few seconds, while others are going to take some time longer. My suggestion is to time about 45 minutes (half-way) and then to take a very short 1-2 minute break. This will allow you to gain focus and give you an idea of how much more to expect.
You need to have a passing score of 720/900. This would equate to about 72%. If you are able to find some good testing software prior to the exam, you can try to gauge where you are prior to the test. I would aim for about 85% to 90% consistently on several different tests. Usually, the large study guides will provide you with several good practice tests to use. Beware of what is known as “brain dumps,” however. It may be tempting to go the route of just studying for the exact test, but it will serve you better in the long term to actually learn the content before the test.
Difficulty of Exam
The difficulty of this test is a subjective question. The test may be easy if you have been working on Linux for years. However, if you have never touched Linux, then expect to spend several months. TheLinuxNerd.com is here to help you on your journey into the Land of Linux. If you are ready to put the work in, getting the CompTIA Linux+ is definitely worth it in 2020.
What you will learn on the Linux+
Hardware and System Configuration
- Boot process
- Kernel Modules
- Network connection parameters
- Managing Storage
System Operations and Maintenance
- Software installation
- Users and groups
- Automating Jobs
- File Handling
- Service Management
- Server Roles
- Backup and Restoring Files
Troubleshooting and Diagnostics
- Analyzing System Properties and Processes
- Troubleshoot End-User issues
- Applications issues
- Hardware issues
- Orchestration Processes and Concepts
Job prospects for Linux+ Certified Professionals
The average salary in the United States is $59,000 according to an ITCareerFinder.com report. In general, a certification helps you get past the HR Department for a company, which means the better likelihood of an interview. With the right skills and personality, anything is possible. For an entry-level job in I.T., it will certainly open many opportunities for you. Yes, the CompTIA Linux+ can be worth it in 2020.
Other Linux Certification Options
Besides CompTia’s Linux+ certification, you do have more options available. Depending on your skill level, you may want to skip this one and go for one of the more prestigious certifications out there.
RED HAT CERTIFIED ENGINEER (RHCE)
Anything Red Hat is going to earn you more money. There is not much further discussion needed on that. This one is going to be tough though. You will likely need years of work experience or be willing to spend the entire year preparing for this one. The Linux+ is an excellent stepping stone before going that deep.
Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC- 1)
This Certification will likely be your closes equivalent to the CompTIA Linix+. Earning the Linux+ today will automatically grant you the LPIC-1. Unfortunately, when I took the Linux+ in 2004, this was not an option and does not apply to my current certification.
Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS)
The Linux Foundation is run by Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, which Linux was named for. This would be a great option to explore. If you get this certification you can take the higher certification the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE). Check out the Linux Foundation here.
Oracle Linux Certified Associate
Oracle has been around for a long time. They used to have a great Operating System for System Administration called Novell, but those days are now gone. I have not researched this one much, but you can check it out on Oracle’s website here.
GIAC Certified UNIX Security Administrator (GCUX)
I have not researched this company very much, but they do offer a UNIX Certification. UNIX has many similarities and can be considered the grandfather of Linux. I have an AAS Degree with a UNIX specialization, but UNIX does not have the same market share as Linux does, especially in the desktop space. You can read more about this certification here.