I am an RHCA and I am wondering if it is worthy to keep it current.
If yes, what would be the best approach, especially when not supported by employer?
Either buy/take 2 exams per year or buy RHLS every ~3 years presuming passing all (5) exams in cycles..
This is an extremely difficult question to answer and can take different perspectives depending on your financial situation and growth you're hoping to make.
First if affordable, go with the RHLS plan, you get new courses and content, plus you have the ability to take the exams. So you have a choice here ... you can renew your old exams (existing certifications) or you can continue to learn new technologies and grow your RHCA level until the oldest ones fall off and expire. The good thing about RHCA exams (certificates of expertise) is that they will automatically bump out and renew your RHCSA/RHCE certificates. So while your exams might expire and you temporarily lose RHCA, as long as you take and pass an exam to renew your RHCA, your RHCSA/RHCE certification will be renewed/extended.
I would also strongly recommend spacing the exams out as if they all expire around the same point in time, then you are forced to re-certify on all those technologies at the same time.
The other method of remaining current is to take the same exams on technologies you already know and have passed. There are several exams that remain on the same technologies, so it could be possible to take and pass the exam with minimal expense by performing self-study and self-review. An average exam costs about $400 USD, so if you were forced to renew all exams on a given year paying full price, you would be paying $2000 to keep your RHCA status. Again, this would automatically renew your RHCSA/RHCE certiifcation. If you average the cost out over the three (3) year period, you are paying on average $675/year at full price (MSRP) to remain a current RHCA.
I have lost several levels of certifications do to expiration. In some instances, I've been able to renew, in others, the exam was retired, so there is no way to renew that particular certification. The good thing is that even when an exam or version does expire, you don't lose the certification because the exam expired - instead that endorsement will continue until it expires after the 3yr time-frame you initially earned the Certificate of Expertise (CoE).
As others have said, the bottom line comes down to the reason for having the certifications and whether they provide enough benefit to you to justify the cost if you are paying out of pocket.
Also, keep in mind there are always discounts and promotions out there that are available for various Red Hat Training and Certification programs and there is also the ability to work through a Red Hat Partner to purchase training units at possible discounted prices.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I especially liked the point on spacing the exams out, I kind of failed on that with my last RHLS and passed 4 exams in ~30 days.
I noticed there used to be 50% discount on RHLS for RHCA, which is cool if it still applies.
Btw, are there any channels worth to follow for discounts and promotions except subscribing to email newsletters?
All the best!