Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was wondering what is the value of an LPI certification in the real world.

I've heard it's useful and all, but I'd like to hear some other opinions.

Would a certification really help me get a job? Is it more important than the skills itself? Is LPI not the right choice for the Linux market?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by HopelessN00b, Alex, voretaq7 Jan 10 '13 at 19:56

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

add comment

7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Certs like that only really matter to large companies, because they're an easy checkbox for the HR person to see what you've got. I'd never hire someone solely because they have a cert and I'd never discount anyone solely because they don't. If a cert is the only difference between two people, I'm still going to want to interview them both, because it's the skills and your facility with them that matter.

IMO certs are semi-worthless because they're always behind the times. You think there's a cert for running large cloud infrastructure? There might be one for running vmware farms by now, but what about xen and virtualbox and kvm?

IMO, improve your skills, learn all you can, and you won't have issues getting a job.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It shows you have a minimum set of skills at a point in time, and if you are entering the job market I think it does have some value (assuming you are applying for junior or trainee sysadmin positions)

Once you have a few years experience in your chosen field (in this case Linux system administration), it has practically zero value. I see jobs looking for product specific certification (RHEL, Cisco certs etc.) but these are usually only valuable coupled with experience and most companies worth working for will rely on far more than a certification to prove your worth...

share|improve this answer
add comment

I guess it would be ok for a novice sysadmin position. But with intermediate/seniors, I'd be more interested in their work experience and mindset.

(I'm using definitions from http://www.sage.org/field/jobs-descriptions.html)

I always thought that training courses, diplomas, and certifications where for people who didn't do the job, but only read about it. I never had time to do any in any of my jobs - the training schedules never matched when I needed the particular skills anyway.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Certs are a really good way to get your resume noticed. Some certs are required by the DoD so if you already have them you will really stand out if you want to be a contractor.

If you ever work for a real company they highly encourage some form of CE. Certs fall in nicely. Also a lot of companies will have service contracts that require only certified professionals can work on systems. We had a multi-petabyte storage facility and everyone that worked on it had to be sun certified... So some certs you get weather you want them or not.

If anything it shows that you are motivated to learn and you are able to take tests. Much like a degree. If your resume is exactly the same as a competitors except you also have certifications then you will win.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It's very popular in the Linux / Open Source world to bash certification programs. There is every truth that there is no substitute for hard-earned experience, but my experience, both as a Linux and Solaris certified engineer, and as a hiring manager, is that there is value in them.

The early LPI exams are easy, but well-designed, comprehensive, and kept up-to-date. They are also vendor-neutral, which is ideal for junior sysadmins wanting to get up to speed.

The more senior exams are really quite well thought out, and go into considerable detail. I would say it would be difficult to pass LPI2 and certainly LPI3 with a purely academic knowledge. I would, however, state that in my experience the best certification courses are those with a heavy bias towards practical testing, such as the RHCE.

One significant value in doing these sorts of certifications is that it forces one to look at and experiment with every aspect of Linux administration. This is especially beneficial if professionally your current role only exposes you to a certain subset of the discipline.

So - the true value?

Potential employers are likely to be impressed with a senior LPI qualification, particularly if you work in the contract world. However, in reality I don't think it's truly a badge that demonstrates your professional capabilities, for anything but a junior admin.

However, for your own development, discipline, and interest, I'd say they're well worth doing. Especially if you can get your employer to pay for the exams, or you do them for free at a conference! :)

share|improve this answer
add comment

I've found that for myself, certifications fill in gaps of knowledge within the domains of each certification. In the case of LPI-level 1, it's general linux administration with the two most popular and widespread distributions, red hat/centos and ubuntu/debian. I believe LPI-1 to be equivalent to a red hat certified administrator minus debian coverage, but not a rhce with may be closer lpi-2 but only covering the red hat / centos distributions.

Speaking about certifications in general, it is often the case that we get used to doing things a certain way because they guaranteed success, whereas the other things we tried weren't quite right and so we marked those techniques as failures. This means we miss out on possibly more efficient, more secure or better ways of accomplishing those tasks.

Studying to pass any certification of value virtually ensures that you will have to go through the experience of trying out commands, reading manuals, exploring other options in order to pass the certification. Certification alone is no substitute for experience, however, I worked with a programming language for several years and never touched a couple of libraries that were covered in the certification, so if I were to ask me about those libraries, I would not be able to say anything useful.

In studying for LPI for example, I've found out about a number of commands I didn't even know existed, and discovered a number of option switches of commands I'd been using for years that I never knew about.

Not saying anything about applied knowledge in everyday use, the gaps filled in through studying for certification make a certified person more valuable to others on a team for example, because you now know their perspective and ways of accomplishing tasks that you will accomplish differently. And with this understanding, you can better interface with your coworkers.

This is the perspective on certifications that I find valuable as both a team worker and hiring decision maker.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I just wrote my LPI-101 2 hours ago and I totally agree with negu. I've been using linux since late 90s and I had to learn commands and options that I never knew existed for the LPIC-101 exam, even though I would never probably use them in real life. My skills in the real world, (DNS, virtualization, apache, security, samba4 AD DC etc) on linux go beyond LPIC-101 (more like LPIC-102) but taking an LPIC-101 course was helpful as it helped me to better understand some commands and techniques that I never knew existed and therefore did increase my knowledge overall.

Being in IT for 15+ years now has taught me that I would never hire someone for my business based on certs alone, BUT someone that did have some certs and knowledge with real-life experience is what truly matters. Would I hire someone that had zero certs but seemed smart? No. Would I hire someone that had several certs but not much practical experience? Probably not. Would I hire a person that had a combination of both? Absolutely. A good interview with the candidate should sort this out though.

Nothing beats real-world experience but a certification program does help hone skills as it forces the individual to study and take the time to learn. All knowledge is good, and some kind of proof of it is good just like a driver's licence, pilot's license etc. You could be an excellent driver yet not have a drivers license, however, a good driver with a proof of license is even better. At least then you can base your decision off some kind of foundation.

There are always exceptions of course, as some people are gifted with technology that could actually fail an exam. Many hackers know of concepts at the network or binary level yet could not answer a simple question such as "What is the path of the package cache on a debian based system?"

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.