September 24, 2014

Linux Foundation Certified Engineer Will Sheldon on What It's Like to Pass the Exam

Will Sheldon certified engineerJust a few days after the Linux Foundation announced its new certification program in August, Will Sheldon took the certified engineer exam and passed.

Sheldon, an IT manager for open source consulting company Appnovation Technologies, already held certifications from Microsoft and Cisco, but hadn't yet gotten a Linux certification.

“I’ve been considering getting RHCE certified for some time,” Sheldon said, “but being more focused on Debian-based distros I’ve never really felt confident enough to take on the Red Hat environment.”

The Linux Foundation's distribution-neutral exam – available on CentOS, Ubuntu, or OpenSUSE – was just what he'd been waiting for. He's now one of the first IT pros to earn the title Linux Foundation Certified Engineer – a designation he believes will become increasingly important to recruiters.

“I’m confident that as LFCE becomes more established it’ll become one of the de facto HR search terms and greatly assist in getting the right sort of attention to my (LinkedIn) profile,” he said.

In this Q&A, Sheldon discusses why he took the exam, how he prepared, what the test was like, and gives some helpful advice for anyone who plans to take it.

How long have you used Linux and how did you get started doing system administration?

About 10-15 years now. I was drawn to the stability of the platform and the vast array of GNU FOSS software available coupled with the fantastic community surrounding so many software projects.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started my professional life as a computer bench technician building machines at a local computer store during summer holidays, from there I progressed to systems administrator for a small business where I studied for and achieved my CCNP, to eventually move to a role as a systems engineer and then project manager for a group of schools in London, UK where I obtained my MCSE and PMP certs. I then made the hop across the pond to Canada where I now live, and after two years working as IT manager for a group of schools across Canada, I found my way to Appnovation.

What, if anything, did you do to prepare for the exam?

I read the syllabus and thought that it seemed within my skill set, so I figured I’d have a go.

logo lftcert engineerWhat did you think of the exam?

I much prefer the live environment scenario to the more conventional multiple choice questions of other certifications. There is often more than one way to do it in Linux and by focusing on the outcomes, not the methods, the LFCE exam requirements more closely mirror real-world situations.

What surprised you, or stood out about the exam? (Did it meet your expectations?)

It surprised me how quickly the time passed. I’d certainly keep closer watch on how long I spent on the various tasks if i had to take it again.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering taking the exam to get certified?

Go for it, it’s a challenge in places but it’s truly not that hard if you have been through the syllabus and had a play in a VM.

What are you hoping to do with the certification, now that you have it?

Put it up on LinkedIn? Haha. Seriously though I already have Microsoft and Cisco certs, and now that Linux skills are becoming increasingly in demand I’m confident that as LFCE becomes more established it’ll become one of the de facto HR search terms and greatly assist in getting the right sort of attention to my profile.

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