The Ultimate Guide to LPI Certifications - Overview and Career Paths

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The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada that increases the use of Linux, open source and free software. One way in which the organization furthers its mission is to give vendor-neutral Linux certifications to IT professionals around the globe. With "more than 500,000 exams delivered" to candidates LPI stakes a claim as “the world’s first and largest vendor-neutral Linux and open source certification body.”
 
With input from private industry, academia and individuals, Linux experts provide information on LPI questions to ensure that they're rigorous, accurate and apply to any standard Linux system.

LPI Certification Overview

The LPI certification program is simple. It includes three certifications that make on one another:
  • LPIC-1: Linux Administrator — the Entry-level accreditation that recognizes individuals who can install and configure a workstation running Linux, maintain the system from the command line and set a primary network
  • LPIC-2: Linux Engineer — Mid-level certification designed for professionals who administer small- to medium-sized mixed networks
  • LPIC-3: Linux Enterprise Professional — the Senior-level accreditation that identifies Linux professionals who plan, conceptualize, design, implement and troubleshoot Linux installations in enterprise environments

Each LPIC certification needs you to pass one or two multiple-choice exams, each of which costs 188 USD and all of which are administered by Pearson VUE. All LPI Certifications are valid for five years.

Also, LPI offers two other credentials. First, those just starting with Linux may find the Linux Essentials certification a good foundation before jumping into the more advanced LPIC certifications. Second, the LPI DevOps Tools Engineer credential offers those interested in DevOps topics and tools an opportunity to establish and burnish such skills in Linux-based environments. Both of these certs are covered in the sections that follow details on LPIC-1, -2, and -3 below.

LPIC-1: Linux Administrator

In the LPI certification, the LPIC-1: Linux Administrator is considered a junior-level Linux certification that needs you to pass two exams: 101-400 and 102-400. There are no prerequisites.
 
The LPIC-1: 101-400 Linux Administrator exam covers system architecture, the nuts, and bolts of Linux installation, essential package management, GNU and Unix commands, devices and file systems.
 
The LPIC-1: 102-400 Linux Administrator exam tests you on customizing the shell environment, writing and running scripts, and Maintaining databases and running SQL commands. You also need to know how to configure settings for the desktop and user interfaces, perform administrative tasks and manage system services, create network connections and secure Linux systems.

LPI Partner Certifications

LPI and CompTIA have a 2-in-1 Linux certification program, which lets candidates acquire LPIC-1 certification after achieving the CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI. (This program formerly included the SUSE Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certification  a 3-in-1 offer but the third leg of that tripod expired in 2016.)
 
You must first get an LPI ID by registering at the LPI website. Next, take the CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI exams and show that you want your exam scores sent to LPI upon successful completion. You'll soon receive notification of your LPIC-1 certification from LPI.

LPIC-2: Linux Engineer

The LPIC-2: 201-450 Linux Engineer: Linux Engineer is an advanced-level Linux Certification that needs a current LPIC-1 certification as a prerequisite. To achieve the LPIC-2, you must pass exams 201-450 and 202-450:
 
The LPIC-2 201-450 exam dives into capacity planning, managing the Linux kernel, configuring system startup services and bootloaders, and configuring and managing file systems and devices. You will also be tested on advanced storage device administration, networking configuration, and system maintenance.
 
The LPIC-2: 202-450 Linux Engineer exam focuses essentially on networking-related topics, such as Domain Name Server (DNS), web services, file sharing, network client management, e-mail services and router configuration. The 202-450 Syllabus also covers topics like secure shell (SSH), port testing and configuring OpenVPN.

LPIC-3: Linux Enterprise Professional

The LPIC-3: Linux Enterprise Professional is the pinnacle of the LPI certification program and is recognized expert level. Therefore, you should have several years of hands-on managing, experience installing, integrating, networking and troubleshooting Linux in an enterprise environment.
 
To earn your LPIC-3 credential, you must achieve LPIC-2 certification as a prerequisite and pass one of these 300-series exams:
 
Mixed Environment (review 300): This exam focuses on OpenLDAP as an authentication backend, OpenLDAP configuration, and highly advanced levels of Samba administration, among other topics.
 
Security (exam 303): To pursue this exam, be sure you are well versed in access controls and cryptography, as well as operations, application, and network security.
 
Virtualization and High Availability (exam 304): This exam covers virtualization, along with load balancing, cluster storage, and cluster management.
 
You can take the LPIC-2 exams and an LPIC-3 exam in any order. That implies you can knock out the LPIC-3 exam of your choice, then circle back and sit for the LPIC-2 exams.

LPI Linux Essentials

The Linux Essentials Professional Development Certificate (PDC) is LPI's entry-level certification. It does not serve as a necessity for the LPIC-1, but it's an excellent way for people who are almost new to Linux to begin validating their skills. The certificate is helpful for many different industry professionals, from developers to administrators and engineers, and data analysts. By taking the exam and LPI Study Guide for and, you also gain certification prep experience, which will be a good benefit if you choose to pursue other LPIC certs.
 
Completing the Linux Essentials PDC symbolizes you are familiar with open source applications versus closed source, know the basics of the Linux operating system, and can run commands on the manage files, command line, perform backup and restore operations and write necessary scripts.
 
Passing a single exam is needed to obtain the certificate, which does not expire. By today's standards, the fee is quite affordable, coming in at a mere 110USD, making it attractive to those interested in exploring Linux certifications.

LPI DevOps Tools Engineer

The Linux Professional Institute, DevOps Tools Engineer credential, validates the skills required to use tools to enable and improve collaboration in workflows through the software development and systems administration lifecycle. To create this new credential, LPI surveyed the DevOps “tools landscape” to define what they call “a set of fundamental tools when applying DevOps.” This means that the exam zeroes in on practical, day-to-day DevOps skills at the nexus of operations and development.
 
Candidates should possess the working knowledge of DevOps domain including the container and machine deployment, software engineering and architecture, configuration management and monitoring. They should also be skilled in such free and open source utilities as Ansible, Docker, Git, Jenkins, Vagrant, and Puppet.
 
Passing a single exam (LPI 701-100) is required to earn the certification which, like other LPI credentials, lasts five years. This 90-minute exam includes 60 multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions and costs $200.

Related Jobs

Considering the focus of LPI Linux certifications, the vast majority of associated positions are along the lines of system administrators, network administrators, system engineers and technical support specialist. But you will occasionally stumble across job listings seeking LPI certification for cloud administrator, cyber security engineer, and professional education specialist.
 
Some positions specifically look for Linux engineers with programming skills. For example, one employer was looking for Puppet/Linux engineers to streamline Puppet workflow and assist with implementation and post-implementation support. Another position called for an operating systems programmer who can design, develop and implement new system tools, and write scripts in BASH and Python or other administrative scripting languages.
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