I've been a Linux user for many years, but for various reasons I never bothered to get a certification even though it's a fantastic validation of Linux skills. When I moved up in the world by joining SoftLayer, my attitude quickly changed.
As a new Systems Administrator at SoftLayer, one of the first challenges I was presented with was to try for my LPIC-1 certification. True to SoftLayer's motto of "Challenging, but not Overwhelming," I was given 3 months, a practice environment and reimbursement for my fees if I passed the tests. With an offer like that, it was impossible to refuse.
The LPIC-1 tests are not easy, and it took a lot of work to pass them, but if you're interested all you need to succeed is a solid background in Linux and the time to dedicate to preparation. Here are some of the things I learned along the way:
- Don't attempt the LPIC-1 exam unless you have at least a couple of years' worth of hands-on Linux experience. Seriously, it's not for newbies.
- Acquire at least two test-prep books, and read one of them every day. I used O'Reilly's LPIC-1 Certification in a Nutshell and LPIC-1 In Depth by Michael Jang. Both are easy to read, have good explanations of concepts you need to understand, and provide valuable tips in addition to practice exams.
- Set up a practice environment. It's essential for reviewing commands you may not be familiar with.
- When you think you are ready for the first exam, take a few free practice tests online. There are a number of them available.
- I didn't buy any test-prep software, but I did download a couple of trial versions as they offered some free practice questions.
- Take all of the practice exams available to you several times each. You'll get more comfortable with the format of the test questions and will also learn which areas you need to revisit before the actual test.
After earning the LPIC-1 certification I received a nice surprise in my mailbox along with my certificate. Apparently Novell and the Linux Professional Institute have a partnership: By earning the LPIC-1 I had also satisfied the requirements for Novell's Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certification, so now I can enjoy the benefits of having two IT certifications for the price of one and I have SoftLayer to thank for it!