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8 certifications and courses for admins, DevOps and IT ops pros

With a few years of experience now on your resume, it's time to boost or validate those skills you've gained. Explore these courses and certifications for one that fits your goals.

So, you have a job in IT operations. Maybe you're happy working in your current position. But if you want to advance your career and work with the latest technologies, certifications are a good place to start.

Explore this list of courses and certifications for IT professionals that cover key IT operations topics, such as DevOps, site reliability engineering, containers and Kubernetes.

Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), Cloud Native Computing Foundation

Kubernetes dominates container orchestration. One way to prove you can work with the platform is to complete this IT certification.

The online exam weighs your skills in several areas:

  • core concepts
  • configuration
  • multi-container pods
  • observability
  • pod design
  • services and networking
  • state persistence

Candidates should be familiar with container runtimes, such as Docker, and microservices architectures, though they won't be explicitly tested on those topics. They should also have a grasp of cloud native application concepts and a programming language, such as Python, Node.js, Go or Java, before taking the exam.

To pass, candidates must solve a set of performance-based tasks in a command line in two hours. Applicants can opt to study on their own or enroll in a training course.

Containers Fundamentals (LFS253), The Linux Foundation

While the history of containers might not stretch back far, its future shows promise as a staple in IT operations. This trajectory is even more reason to master the fundamentals in this intermediate-level program. Key concepts covered include container standards and runtimes, container images and container storage and networking.

By the end of this course on containers, students should be able to bundle an application and deploy it to any platform, such as bare metal, VMs or cloud. Students will also learn how to build and run multi-container applications with Docker.

To reap the most from this course, learners should be familiar with the command line, understand the basics of the cloud and have access to a workstation with Linux, macOS or Windows installed.

DevOps and SRE Fundamentals: Implementing Continuous Delivery (LFS261), The Linux Foundation

Though Google is credited with creating site reliability engineering, the practice has spread across the IT industry, making these fundamentals a standard for modern operations.

This DevOps and SRE course caters to developers, quality analysts and sys admins. It teaches how to quickly deliver software safely and reliably, and how to set up automated testing. Other skills include how to manage production environments and maintain availability, reliability, scalability and security while delivering features to end users.

Some other fundamentals covered in this course include CI/CD, and how to use several tools and platforms such as Docker, Kubernetes, Git, Jenkins and Spinnaker.

Lessons are delivered primarily through video content, hands-on labs and assignments. This course requires access to a Linux server or Linux machine, as well as a public cloud provider or VirtualBox. The recommended prerequisites for this course are a basic knowledge of Linux, system administration and the software delivery process.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer -- Professional, AWS

This certification is geared toward DevOps engineers with at least two years' experience provisioning, operating and managing AWS environments. Candidates should also have experience working with at least one high-level programming language, building highly automated infrastructures, OS administration and a grasp of modern development and operations processes and methodologies.

Holders of this DevOps certification show that their skill sets cover:

  • continuous delivery;
  • automation of security controls, governance processes and compliance validation;
  • monitoring and logging;
  • availability, scalability and self-healing; and
  • design, management and maintenance of tools to automate operational processes.

This exam is multiple choice, with varied formats available at testing centers or online.

Azure Administrator Associate, Microsoft

The public cloud adoption rate has been steadily climbing and the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated it. With this increase comes the need for qualified staff.

An Azure Administrator Associate certification validates an administrator's proficiency with Microsoft Azure, one of the Big Three cloud computing platforms. To pass the certification's exam, candidates should be prepared to complete technical tasks that involve Azure identities and governance, storage, compute resources, virtual networking, monitoring and backup.

Unofficial prerequisites include at least six-months experience with Azure administration and familiarity with PowerShell, Azure services, Azure workloads, Azure CLI, Azure portal and Azure Resource Manager templates.

DevOps Leader, DevOps Institute

A DevOps culture offers many benefits for organizations, but success requires a steady hand and strong collaboration. This professional IT certification teaches skills and knowledge required to lead a DevOps transformation. Learning objectives include:

  • DevOps and time to value;
  • mindset and mental models;
  • how DevOps differs from traditional IT;
  • performance management, rewards and motivation;
  • empowerment and participation;
  • defining meaningful metrics; and
  • driving cultural and behavioral change.

Candidates for this course should already understand basic DevOps terminology and concepts, and have related work experience. The program has several modes of teaching such as instructor-led training and exercises, a learner manual and sample document and templates.

DevSecOps Foundation, DevOps Institute

Security has always been important, but recent breaches have emphasized its value in IT operations. As security shifts left, knowledge in DevSecOps gains value.

The DevSecOps certification proves an individual understands how it contributes to the business value, the relationship between security and speed in software development, the role of tools and automation and the culture of DevSecOps.

Candidates for this certification range from DevOps engineers and SREs to IT security professionals and software testers.

Red Hat Certified System Administrator, Red Hat

A system administrator's role can vary from organization to organization. However, the core responsibilities remain the same. The RHCSA certification validates these skills.

Candidates for this professional IT certification are typically experienced Linux sys admins, DevOps professionals and those who have completed the Red Hat System Administration I and Administration II courses. This certification is also a prerequisite for the Red Hat Certified Engineer course.

Individuals who pass this exam demonstrate a broad set of skills. Topics include how to create simple shell scripts, operate running systems, boot into different run levels and control services. This certification also teaches local storage and file systems management, security and basic container management.

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