Unix based systems are the most widely used systems today. If a server isn’t running Windows, it is ultimately running a Unix based system. Since this system is so embedded and so many applications have used it as a standard for their practices, in order to maintain software, familiarity with Unix is needed. Unix is most often distributed as Linux on the server side, which has its own distributions based on the individual parts of the operating system. While all Unix developers should be familiar with the command line tools and compilers at their disposal with any Unix distribution, there are certifications engineers can get that allow them to demonstrate proficiency in certain aspects of the Unix system.
The Red Hat certification is one of the most popular certifications out there. Red Hat is a company that has its own proprietary Linux distribution, appropriately named Red Hat. Red Hat is a business facing Linux distribution and comes with more libraries while being much better maintained than other distributions. The enhanced functionality can enable developers to create web services, quant trading platforms, and many more applications server side and on the cloud. Engineers can choose between multiple concentrations, including data center management, cloud, dev ops, application engineering and application platform. Each one has its own specific curriculum to learn about and test. Upon completing these tests, engineers will be issued a Red Hat Certified Architect certificate, often referred to as the capstone certification. The Red Hat Certified Engineer certificate is another certification which tests basic Linux skills and networking and IP understanding. Knowledge of HTTP and SSL is important to well on this test to receive the certificate. Another popular Certification is Red Hat System Admin.
Red Hat engineers can find themselves making upwards of $120K as senior software engineers with a Red Hat certification. As the theoretical computation limit is approaching for many of our computers, the need to maintain a strict and reliable server-side architecture is paramount. Developers will need to be able to manage systems and be able to write systems that can manage systems themselves. Understanding Linux and preparing for the Red Hat certification are just a few steps of learning the process of how to manage a business level server-side architecture.
Oracle, like Red Hat, offers a certification for its own Linux based distribution. This Oracle Linux comes built in with Oracle databases, networking tools, and Java EE, which is a much more maintained, performant version of Java intended for enterprise applications. Oracle Linux, like Red Hat is a proprietary distribution of Linux, and many of these databases and tools cannot be found in open source distributions. Oracle ships its distribution with an in-memory database that allows servers to take advantage of great amounts of memory at their disposal for the operating system to more easily use. Because disk space can be extremely slow, and the cost of memory has been decreasing quite fast, developers can load servers full of memory and be able to take advantage of that using such Oracle tools. Additionally, Oracle comes built in with an elastic cloud feature that allows developers to remotely spin up new servers to be deployed and load balanced. This allows developers to be able to handle certain server loads at different times depending on how much traffic is going through the network at any given time. This can be greatly beneficial at reducing costs at different companies as the cost of running servers can be easily mitigated using a Linux distribution as such.
Oracle engineers make about $111K as software engineers and would do similar work as Red Hat engineers. Ultimately the difference in their certification is the kinds of distributions they will be able to work with and use. It comes down to which one is better for a business and what each business is using. Oracle often has more popularity among those who have a background in Java which can be taken into consideration when trying to choose a certification program to pick.
It is good to mention that there are two popular certifications that are especially suited for beginners: CompTIA Linux Certification and Linux Professional Institute Certification Exam 101 and 102
Additional Resources for System Admin
Linux coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in system admin; however, other options are, web design and development, mobile App design and development, and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.