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Red Hat Certification Program Restructured for RHEL 6

Red Hat recently altered the structure of its certification program, prostate making changes to the RHCE and replacing the RHCT with an RHCSA designation for system administrators. The new rules apply starting with certifications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.

In tandem with the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6), Red Hat recently performed a little surgery on its professional certification program.

Key changes include:

  • A new Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) credential will replace the current Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) designation.

  • Starting with certifications tied to RHEL 6, individuals must earn the RHCSA before they can obtain the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) designation.

  • The RHCE skill set has been re-defined and a new exam created.

  • A new recertification policy is in force for certifications earned on v6 and going forward.

RHCT Replaced by RHCSA

A new Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification has been created to replace the current Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) credential. The first thing this accomplishes is to make the Red Hat's entry level certification more marketable, since "Certified System Administrator" carries substantially more cachet that "Certified Technician." It also makes the skill set covered much more obvious to hiring managers and Human Resources, and identifies what people who hold the certification actually do.

To earn the RHCSA, candidates must pass a hands-on, half-day exam (EX200) which costs $400. The objectives are largely similar to those of the RHCT, with the addition of new material identified as core skills that all system administrators should have. Some of the additional skills were drawn from earlier versions of the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification, as those skills have over time become expected of all Linux systems administrators and not just senior personnel.

RHCE Realigned with Senior Level Skills

The scope of the revised RHCE reflects a re-definition of what it means to be a senior level Linux administrator. Logical volume management (LVM), for example, was removed from the RHCE and placed at the RHCSA level.

Candidates must now earn RHCSA certification before they can earn the RHCE, but since the new RHCE exam costs $400, the combined cost of taking the RHCSA exam and then the RHCE exam is essentially the same as the cost of taking just the RHCE exam was before the changes. The new exam (EX300) retains the hands-on, half-day format.

Recertification Now on a 3-year Window

Starting with certifications on RHEL 6, a certification is considered current for 3 years after it is earned. Red Hat calls this the "currency window." If a higher-level exam is passed within the 3-year period, the currency period starts over.

Certifications tied to earlier versions of RHEL are subject to the recertification policy in force when they were earned, which means that certifications earned under Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 will be considered current until 60 days after the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, and certifications earned on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 will become non-current 60 days after general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.

Effects on Current Red Hat Certification Holders

Anyone who already holds or is working toward a Red Hat certification should check with Red Hat about the specifics regarding how the changes will affect them. For example, recently certified RHCTs will be granted RHCSA status during the transition, but will still have to pass both the RHCSA and RHCE exams to become an RHCE on Enterprise Linux 6. Red Hat posted a certification FAQ that addresses most situations.