For your career advancement goals in systems administration, one of the best certifications for system administrators can help you get noticed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, system administrators are in high demand, with a steady six percent job growth anticipated through 2026. Many companies today are in need of your technical skills for core system administration tasks.
If you’re a network administrator who has had online training and professional experience, advanced certifications will increase your credibility. Below is a list of system administrator certifications and the benefits of attaining one.
What Is a System Administration Certification?
A system administration certification is a credential earned after studying and passing an exam in system administration. It demonstrates a system or network administrator’s specialized knowledge, skills, and experience in the field.
A system administration certification can help increase earning potential because it shows advanced or up-to-date skills and expertise in networking fundamentals.
How Much Can You Earn With a System Administrator Certification?
An experienced systems administrator with a certification can earn an average annual salary of $71,505, according to PayScale. This number depends on factors such as experience, role, company, and location.
For example, system administrators in Washington, DC earn $92,085 per year, which is about 28 percent more than the national average for professionals in this field. Meanwhile, those in San Diego, California earn $85,941 per year or 20 percent more annually, and professionals in New York City earn 13 percent more at $83,078.
Why Is System Administrator Certification Important?
System administrator certifications are important because they provide a credential that validates a proven skillset, which is important to employers. This certification shows that a professional has been through rigorous training and developed advanced skills. It also shows that they are committed to professional development and are willing to spend time expanding their expertise.
Boost Earning Potential
Certifications upgrade your qualification, consequently upgrading your earning potential. A certification indicates you have advanced skills and updated IT knowledge and opens doors to promotion.
A certification gives you a competitive advantage over other network professionals who are not certified and only have a basic knowledge of network environments. It demonstrates your advanced knowledge of networking and other system administration skills. Your commitment to professional advancement by having certification also indicates that you are committed to your craft.
Any level of certification supplements your experience, displaying that your technical knowledge is advanced and up-to-date. Your certification proves that you took coursework and passed exams. It’s proof that you can perform your job responsibilities well.
Best Certifications for System Administrator at a Glance
|CompTIA: CompTIA Server+||$319||No requirements, but 18 – 24 months of IT experience is recommended|
|CompTIA Security+||$381||No specific prerequisite|
|Linux Professional Institute (LPI): LPIC System Administrator||$200 / exam||Each lower credential is a prerequisite for the higher credential|
|Microsoft: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)||$165||You must earn an MCSA certification for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Cloud Platform, or Linux on Azure before you can take the MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure exam|
|Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate||$165||Should have at least 6 months of hands-on experience administering Azure. Along with a strong understanding of core Azure services, Azure workloads, security, and governance|
|Oracle Certified Professional, Oracle Linux 6 System Administrator||$245||Oracle Certified Associate, Oracle Linux 5 and 6 System Administrator certification|
|Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)||$400||Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification|
|Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)||$400||Need to have taken Red Hat System Administration 1 and 2 or the RHCSA Rapid Track Course, or comparable work experience as a system administrator on Red Hat Enterprise Linux|
|ServiceNow: ServiceNow Certified System Administrator||$150||At least 6 months of experience with ServiceNow, database and system management, and IT helpdesk principles|
|VMware: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV)||$250||Requirements depend on a candidate’s experience and certifications. Before taking the certification exam, candidates should gain practical experience using vSphere 6.5|
Top System Administrator Certifications: A Closer Look
CompTIA: CompTIA Server+
The CompTIA Server+ is a vendor-neutral certification for administrator-level professionals who manage and troubleshoot servers. The exam covers scripting and cloud computing, skills, and knowledge of hardware and software in on-premise and hybrid server environments. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that take 90 minutes
The CompTIA Security+ certification is for IT professionals in cybersecurity roles. This certification signifies your ability to protect systems and data. It is also an indication of your skill in maintaining network security, installing and configuring secure systems, performing threat analyses, and implementing risk mitigation and response activities.
Linux Professional Institute (LPI): LPIC System Administrator
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) is the oldest and largest open-source and Linux vendor-neutral certifications provider. It boasts more than 500,000 exams with LPI-certified professionals in 180 countries. Two exams are required to earn the LPIC-1 or LPIC-2 credentials, and the LPIC-3 specializations require one exam each.
Microsoft: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is the top Microsoft certification program. It is ideal for system administrators to validate their skills and technical expertise in networking and systems management.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
The Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification provides an associate level certification in managing and monitoring Microsoft Azure environments for organizations. Azure is a cloud computing platform offering several services that support business activities and management.
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
This professional certification is for senior Linux or UNIX system administrators. It is proof of their advanced knowledge and skills with Red Hat system administration and managing systems in DevOps environments. The certification also validates their capability to automate the management and support of multisystem environments.
Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)
The Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification is for experienced Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators to signify their skill set. It is also a prerequisite for becoming a Red Hat Certified Engineer. Having a RHCSA credential is proof that networking professionals can install, configure, and perform maintenance on Linux systems and firewalls.
Oracle Certified Professional, Oracle Linux 6 System Administrator
This certification requires candidates to be well-versed in topics such as control groups, Linux containers, and advanced storage administration techniques. Exam objectives involve testing your knowledge of dump analysis, dynamic tracing, network configuration, and security configuration. It has 97 questions and takes approximately 150 minutes to complete, with a 61 percent passing rate.
ServiceNow: ServiceNow Certified System Administrator
The ServiceNow Certified System Administrator certification is for professionals wanting to prove their expertise in ServiceNow systems. ServiceNow is a cloud-based platform that businesses use to automate their IT business management activities. The certification is a computer-based single exam of multiple-choice questions that lasts 90-minutes.
VMware: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV)
The VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification proves your ability to work within the vSphere infrastructure, a cloud computing virtualization platform by VMWare. Virtualization is a virtual or digital version of computer hardware that uses virtual machines within the cloud infrastructure. It allows users to simulate functions and run multiple operating systems all at once.
Free System Administration Certifications
There are no free system administration certification courses currently available as of this writing. But if you’d like to develop your knowledge on system or network administration, you can find many free online training resources and online courses.
Are System Administrator Certifications Worth It?
Yes, system administration certifications are worth it. They verify your relevant IT skills and knowledge in various system administrative tasks. Most of the time, system administrator job descriptions prefer that candidates have experience and basic certifications in specific operating systems. When you have a system administration certification, you have an advantage in the job market.
Best Certifications for System Administrators FAQ
The average salary of a certified system administrator with a Red Hat certification is around $95,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the average salary of a systems administrator with no specified certification at $63,899 per year, according to PayScale.
An advanced certification is a educational credential that can be earned after you have completed a master’s degree for the purpose of continuing education. Certifications keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in your field of expertise.
To become a system administrator, you must have a Bachelor’s Degree in IT, Computer Science, or a relevant field. It is also helpful to have completed internships in IT departments of tech companies and gain apprenticeship knowledge by learning basic networking concepts. This preparation can help you earn a system administrator role more quickly.
No, network engineers are not the same as system administrators. In general, a network engineer is responsible for designing and developing a computer network while the system administrator ensures and maintains developed network services.
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