Linux Certified Professional Certification & Degree Program Info

Some colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in UNIX and Linux system administration that prepare students for professional credentialing examinations. Learn about the training programs, job outlook and certification options.

Essential Information

Graduates of these programs may be qualified to pursue various Linux certifications. Linux Certified Professional (LCP) credentials are offered through industry organizations and vendors, and they usually require completion of an exam.

Certificate program applicants should have a solid background in information technology (IT), networking and systems administration. Courses cover topics including open source programming, Linux installation and Linux system security.

In a 2-year associate's or 4-year bachelor's degree programs, students complete general education courses, in addition to courses in computer systems. Associate's degree programs may be in Linux network management, with courses including Linux file system architecture and Linux system security. Bachelor's degree programs are more commonly offered in computer engineering and network technology. These programs usually include courses in Linux networks and systems, as well as lab work to supply hands-on experience. Some bachelor's programs may include internships.

UNIX/Linux System Administration Certificate

Completing a certificate program in UNIX and Linux system administration can prepare an individual to take the Linux certification examinations and become LCP certified. Such programs are typically offered through technical schools and extension departments of 4-year universities. They are designed to provide IT professionals, such as computer programmers and system administrators, with specialized training in UNIX and Linux operating systems.

Students enrolled in a UNIX/Linux certificate program learn how to master the basic skills of the Linux operating system, including local network data access, command interpretation, system configuration and file editing, protection and management. Courses also teach fundamental Linux system networking, programming and security options. A few examples of course topics include:

  • Linux installation
  • Linux operating system administration
  • Open source programming
  • Linux services and configurations
  • Linux Web database servers
  • Linux system security

Associate's Degree in Linux Network Management

Community colleges and vocational schools also offer associate's degree programs in networking and security management that include a focus on Linux networks and systems. Applicants usually only need a high school diploma, though some schools request a basic understanding of computer operating systems before enrolling. Graduates gain skills and knowledge to qualify for careers as Linux network administrators and networking engineers.

Linux training courses are practical in nature and designed to provide students with skills that prepare them for certification and an eventual career. Much like certificate programs in the field, an associate's degree program teaches students how to install, maintain and configure Linux operating systems. Courses provide skills training in Linux system security management and network administration. Some core and elective course topics include:

  • Linux system security management
  • Network programming
  • Web development
  • Linux file system architecture
  • Encryption and authentication
  • Cisco networking administration

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering and Network Technology

Computer information technology or network technology majors also offer courses related specifically to Linux systems. While those courses are not necessarily the focal point of the bachelor's degree program, they can prepare students for Linux certification. Internships could introduce students to practical applications in Linux server and network administration, troubleshooting and programming.

Bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering and network technology usually only contain one or two courses related specifically to Linux systems. However, those courses combine theory and lab work and usually cover a range of Linux-related topics. Students learn the basics of file system administration, document processing, data redundancy, configuration and user administration. They also study specific Linux concepts, such as the operating system's kernel and daemons. Some topics related to beginning and advanced Linux administration include:

  • Server-side programming tools
  • Email and networking protocols
  • Spam filtering techniques
  • History of open source and free software
  • IBM PC architecture
  • System navigation and commands

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a certificate program could qualify for entry-level positions in the IT field. Some options include:

  • Systems engineer
  • Linux network administrator
  • Open source programmer
  • Information security specialist
  • Web server administrator

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer system administrators held over 374,000 jobs across the country in 2015 ( The median salary for these same employees was $77,810 in 2015. The BLS projected that demand for network and computer systems administrators between the years 2014 and 2024 will grow 8%.

Certification Options

CompTIA, a vendor-neutral IT organization, includes a Linux+ administration credential among its certification options. The Linux Professional Institute also offers three levels of general Linux administration certifications, including Junior (LPIC-1), Advanced (LPIC-2) and Senior Level Linux Professional (LPIC-3) designations. Additionally, Novell offers certifications based on the SuSE version of the operating system. In addition to Novell's Certified Linux Professional credential, Linux experts can also test for desktop and server administrator designations, as well as a Linux engineer credential. Red Hat provides administration and engineering credentials based on its own distribution of the Linux operating system.

Students interested in becoming a Linux Certified Professional can prepare for the certification by enrolling in a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree program. Graduates can work in various information technology positions and may wish to pursue additional credentials.

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