What Is the RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator) Certification?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Set yourself apart with an IT certification. Learn more about the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification, including if the RHCSA is worth it, and how much it costs.

[Featured image] A man sits at a laptop earning his RHCSA certification.

Today’s computer networks involve a complicated setup of technologies, tools, and applications that ensure proper usage and access. IT professionals need to have a well-rounded skill set to use these resources successfully, especially if they want to work in networking administration roles. For those interested in enhancing their IT skills, Red Hat, a software company that creates open-source products for enterprises, offers the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHSA) certification, a great option to set yourself apart in the IT field. 

Read on to learn more about the RHCSA certification, including whether it's worth it and how much it costs.

Read more: 10 Essential IT Certifications

What is the RHCSA?

The Red Hat Certified System Administrator certification demonstrates your knowledge and expertise in Red Hat Enterprise Linux domains. Red Hat offers open-source software to enterprise-level businesses and provides certifications for several of its products. However, the RHCSA, specifically, conveys to potential employers that you have the skills required to perform core system administration tasks in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments.

Read more: What Can I Do With a Linux Certification?

Who benefits from getting the RHCSA certification?

IT professionals interested in working within the Red Hat environment might want to consider getting the RHCSA certification. It’s also a good choice to gain more foundational knowledge of Linux and its components since these skills are transferable to various roles. Furthermore, the following are a few of the reasons why you might need this certification: 

  • As a system administrator, you may want to prove your knowledge of Red Hat Linux.

  • Your organization requires this certification for Linux system adminstrators. 

  • You're taking the first step to becoming a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE).

  • You work in the DevOps field and want to prove your aptitude in the basics of container technology.

How do I get the RHCSA certification?

The RHCSA exam is a performance-based, hands-on test. You can take the test in person or as part of a virtual, remote testing format. Additionally, the rules do not allow internet access or any hard copy or electronic documentation while taking the exam. Before signing up for the exam, consider completing these steps to prepare yourself better:

1. Review the exam objectives and prerequisites.

To successfully pass the RHCSA certification, you’ll need a combination of aptitude, practice, and experience. Red Hat also offers two classes to help you prepare for the exam, and while they are not required, Red Hat encourages you to take them. Regarding the prerequisites, always do your research. Red Hat requires you to take specific courses or have work experience as a system administrator in Red Hat Enterprise Linux equal to the lessons in the courses.

2. Take Red Hat’s free online assessment.

Red Hat offers a free online assessment to learn more about any potential skills gaps you might have. Once it's completed, you'll receive a recommendation for where to start studying to prepare for the exam.

3. Create a plan to study for the exam.

Red Hat offers several courses you might take as part of your study plan to help fill any skills gaps. Online courses or books also provide the opportunity to study. If you want something more involved, consider an RHCSA boot camp to learn what you need to know quickly and effectively.

4. Schedule the exam.

Once you feel prepared, schedule the three-hour exam in person or remotely. Typically, Red Hat will inform you of your score within three US business days. If you do not achieve your desired result, Red Hat permits you to retake the exam. Currently, the RHCSA exam costs $500.

What’s on the RHCSA exam?

The RHCSA exam covers a wide range of tasks that you’ll need to be able to complete without any assistance. These tasks include:

  • Understand and use essential tools

  • Operate running systems

  • Create simple shell scripts

  • Create and configure file systems

  • Configure local storage

  • Manage basic networking

  • Deploy, configure, and maintain systems

  • Manage security

  • Manage users and groups

  • Manage containers

Training for the RHCSA exam

To train for the RHCSA exam, you’ll need to gain experience as a Red Hat Enterprise Linux administrator. You can gain this experience either through working in a professional role or taking the Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134) courses to develop your skills. Red Hat does offer a fast-track course titled RHCSA Rapid Track (RH199).

What jobs can you get with the RHCSA certification?

Red Hat is a popular software source for companies across a wide range of industries, so an RHCSA certification allows you to compete for various roles such as DevOps engineer, Linux administrator, system administrator, and system engineer. If you currently work in one of these positions, the RHCSA certification can expand your knowledge.

1. DevOps engineer

Average annual salary (US): $112,761 [2]

Requirements: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in information technology or software engineering. 

A DevOps engineer works in a project management role that involves creating new processes and operations for software development and computer applications. As a DevOps engineer, you would most likely work with different departments to increase productivity by implementing systems that improve workflows across the entire project. 

DevOps engineers tend to work in large organizations and collaborate with other professionals in this business to satisfy the needs of clients or customers. They tend to have an engineering background and specialized skills in the industry.

Read more: What Does a DevOps Engineer Do? A Career Guide

2. Linux administrator

Average annual salary (US): $111,340 [3]

Requirements: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science. 

Linux administrators are network administrators who specialize in using Linux. They install, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot the network and computing systems used by their employers. Linux administrators are responsible for maximizing the system’s performance by regularly updating the security and troubleshooting any issues that might occur during the workday.

Read more: 5 Linux Career Paths to Pursue

3. System administrator

Average annual salary (US): $83,324 [4]

Requirements: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology.

A system administrator ensures a company’s computer network and software system is secure, reliable, and accessible to different users. In this position, you set up and maintain the computer network system, which often includes software and hardware such as computers. Then, you would monitor and manage this system to ensure it’s working properly so that other professionals are able to complete their tasks as needed. 

A system administrator purchases needed or new hardware, upgrades security systems, keeps the software up-to-date, and trains other staff to follow the right protocols. Some additional skills you might need for this position include knowledge of SQL, cloud computing, and programming languages such as CSS, Java, and Python.

4. Systems engineer

Average annual salary (US): $112,806 [5]

Requirements: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree, and often a master’s degree, in software engineering or computer science. 

Systems engineers work in a wide range of technical industries, including robotics, software development, and civil engineering, and are responsible for monitoring the performance of a business's various systems. 

Systems engineers also monitor and maintain software and hardware systems to ensure they work as efficiently as possible for the other people who need to use them. They not only monitor systems but also build and incorporate new software while analyzing data to determine methods for improving the current system.

Learn more with Coursera.

If you have experience working with some of Red Hat’s software and want to improve your skills or learn more about it to advance your career, earning the RHCSA certification can help you accomplish these goals. You can begin this journey on Coursera.

Sharpen your network administration skills and learn more about the foundational knowledge needed to gain your RHCSA with courses and Professional Certificates. With courses like Red Hat’s Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, you’ll learn the skills needed to succeed as a Red Hat administrator. 

Article sources


Zippia. “Best Linux Systems Administrator Certifications, https://www.zippia.com/linux-systems-administrator-jobs/certifications/.” Accessed March 25, 2024.

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