Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions is the sponsor for the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification. RHCE is Red Hat’s flagship certification aimed towards mid to senior level system administrators with the skills and training to configure, troubleshoot and implement Red Hat Enterprise Systems.
Launched in 1999, RHCE was soon regarded as a hot certification by organizations who touted its utility and versatility for working Unix/Linux systems.
Since its introduction the RHCE has grown even more popular as a way to validate one’s skills and knowledge to potential employers. For example, recent studies by Red Hat find that 77 percent of hiring manager want team members with strong Linux talent, 46 percent of hiring managers are looking to increase hiring of Linux skilled professionals, and 86 percent of Linux professionals report that their Linux skills have been a strong positive in helping them grow their career.
RHCEs readily find employment as system admins and engineers working with Linux systems. And the annual salary range for an RHCE is also pretty good — a Linux System administrator in India earns between ₹104,000 to ₹830,000, and a senior system engineer can command between ₹280,000 and ₹1 million per year. Industry experts predict the demand for RHCEs will continue to grow at a swift pace for next decade as more Indian enterprises adopt Linux systems. For IT pros interested in Linux domains there couldn’t be a better time to have an RHCE in your portfolio.
Becoming a RHCE
Candidates must clear the EX300 exam, which is designed to test one’s knowledge, skills and abilities in administering a Red Hat enterprise Linux systems.
Although there are no official prerequisites, the EX300 is designed primarily for experienced Linux IT professionals currently holding a Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification, and experienced Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators who are seeking official validation of their skills. Students who have attended Red Hat’s System Administration I, II, and III courses or the RHCE Certification lab are also able to confidently take the exam.
While a candidate can sit for and clear the EX300 without previously earning a RHCSA, they will not receive the certification until they have cleared the EX200 exam and earned the RHCSA. If one clears the EX300 prior to the EX200, Red Hat will retain their results until they pass the EX200 and then attach them to the latter exam’s record.
The EX300 is a three and one-half hour performance-based, hands-on exam consisting of 18-21 assignments to be completed on live Linux machines on RHEL 7, usually in a VM environment. There is no internet access during the testing period and outside materials are forbidden. A clearing score is 70 percent — 210 out of a possible 300. The exam fee is $400 U.S. and is valid for 3 years from the time the certificate is awarded.
The RHCE certification exam includes all the objectives of RHCSA plus the followings:
- Configuring Networking, routing, port Forwarding, Firewall etc.
- Configuring Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
- Configuring Samba, NFS shares
- Auditing, Troubleshooting system logging
- Configuring DNS/Postfix/NTP server
- Skills of Bash scripting for administrative task
- Configuring HTTPD host ( VHost, TLS certificate, private Directories)
There are a number of good books and other resources to help one prepare for the EX300 exam. One very useful publication is Michael Jhang’s RHCSA/RHCE Study Guide. I practiced all the exercises from the backend of the chapters and found it to be a great aid to my preparation.
Red Hat also recommends and offers additional training courses as an excellent way to prepare. (Red Hat has an online skills assessment so candidates can determine which classes they may want to take.) Attendance in any of the classes is not required, but anecdotal evidence seems to show that even experienced IT pros gain from participating in the classes.
Red Hat’s excellent hands on lab courses can be self-paced or instructor led. Red Hat Sys Admins I and II is an excellent course for those who want to have an in-home lab environment to practice for the exam. I built my Own VM with two servers installed on my personal Machine on VMware. CentOS was my preferred choice of system to practice on as it closely resembles the RHEL server that you deal with during the official exam.
Passing the RHCE exam is not an easy matter. Even seasoned Linux professionals find it challenging to complete all of the questions in the allotted time. In my opinion, the EX300 is not only a pure technical test, but also a test of your time management skills and your ability to follow directions. I’ve been working with Linux for more than five years and was surprised at the breadth of areas covered by the exam.
Here is my takeaway from the exam and a few tips you may find useful when preparing and appearing for the exam:
- Practice hard till you can configure each of the exam objectives off the top of your head.
- Make certain to review RHCSA objectives as they will be covered on the exam as well.
- During your preparation, complete all of the end of chapter quizzes contained in Michael Jhang’s book, or any book that you might happen to use.
- Read each question thoroughly and create the whole picture in your head before you actually start configuring.
- Plan your time and do all that you are asked to do for each question.
- Don’t forget to reboot your system from time-to-time, especially during the last half hour of the exam, to make certain your configuration can survive the boot.
- Remember the EX300 will grade your work on what you did, not on how you did it. There may be different solutions for specific tasks.
I really encourage you to do as many practice quizzes as possible. There are a number of useful sites on the internet. Two which I found helpful are CertDepot’s RHEL7 tutorials and Github’s Open RHCE.
Red Hat certifications are the gold-standard for working with Linux systems. RHCE is highly regarded in the Linux Community and worth all the time and effort you will put in to achieve it. RHCEs continue to be in high-demand by enterprise IT organizations because of the way their skills are validated — via an exam that is intensive, live, and very hands-on.
I cannot stress enough the value of an RHCE. If you want to work in the Linux world you should definitely add an RHCE to your resume.