IT Certification and Training

June 8, 2007

The Novell Certified Linux Desktop Administrator/Certification “Levels”

Filed under: Novell — Jim Henderson @ 12:16

A second certification we announced at BrainShare is the Certified Linux Desktop Administrator, or CLDA.

The certification itself is still being developed, so I don’t want to pre-announce anything beyond the announcement at BrainShare, but rather to use this as a framework for some comments regarding my thoughts around certification “levels”.

Certification, as I see it, plays two separate and identifiable roles in the IT world (this may apply beyond IT, I just have little experience in those other arenas):  Firstly, for the vendor, in that a large certified audience helps drive product sales; in effect, it’s a marketing tool for a vendor when the certification is a mass-market certification.

Secondly, it’s a measure of expertise for the individual.  It’s a marketing tool for an individual certification candidate to demonstrate competency in a particular area or technology.

From a career path view, in IT there are really four “levels” of expertise:

  1. Help Desk/User
  2. Administrator
  3. Engineer/Implementor
  4. Architect

There is some overlap in the requirements for each level – for example, in order to implement an IT solution effectively, it helps a lot if the person working on the implementation understands the user experience or how a help desk is expected to support the solution, as well as how an administrator would do their job with it.

From my point of view, these levels build on each other – an architect would have to know some details at the lower levels.  For example, to understand what is and isn’t possible with a particular product set from an implementation standpoint – the best architected solution is useless if it can’t be implemented.

In terms of Novell’s Linux certifications,  right now there are two (The Certified Linux Professional (CLP) and the Certified Linux Engineer (CLE)).  Both of these certifications, in my mind, cover different pieces of the engineer/implementor level, and specifically around server implementations.  The CLP covers a lot more fundamental Linux knowledge, so might overlap between the administrator and engineer levels, and even people in the Help Desk/User level would benefit from it.

The CLDA certification will fill a gap with regards to the deployment and management of Linux desktops (specifically, the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop product) .  Desktop administration overlaps somewhat with server administration, but there are many unique aspects to desktop administration that indicate a potentially separate career path for those interested in the desktop.  Some people will make the shift to the server side of things, but others seem to prefer being closer to the users and working with the desktop environments.

The question in my mind is where, from the standpoint of a desktop administrator certification falls in general, does that certification belong in the first category of certifications (the mass market) or in the latter (high value for the certified individual).

What do the readers here think?


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