Ultimately, I guess there are four categories of IT employees:
1) those who are certified and know what they are doing
2) those who are certified and don't know what they are doing
3) those who aren't certified and know what they are doing
4) those who aren't certified and have no clue
Until you can find an employer that knows how to evaluate your technical skills for what they are - and doesn't rely on some certificate-issuing.. then it can come down to just forking out enough $$$ for an exam cram pack, passing the test, get a piece of paper, and getting your application at the top of the pile because most employers' HR departments are like that. Please tell me the last time an employer took the appropriate time to evaluate technical skills but didn't put you on the bottom of the list cause they were looking for certifications. Few and far between. CCIE is a well respected cert however. Its real hands on. Heck you have to fly over to cisco's HQ just to take it. 2 days of testing, including labs. Besides, when was the last time you sat down at a crashed server and it asked you multiple choice answers?
So back to linux certs. Both LPI and SAIR seem to be making strides for a good way to determine an indication of basic minimum knowledge of linux. But you wont see any mention on either of their sites about their cert is meant to be a replacement for proven experience and knowledge. I think both places are open for comments now, in order to perfect their certification program. The more I look, the more the commercial SAIR seems to have more to offer, but because it is no longer run by non-profit and open source individuals, many object to it. LPI on the other hand seems nice and they do have some distribution specific pages, but dont know which will be more acceptable. The knowledge learned preparing for one will help towards the other, but it still is a lot of money to invest for something that may not even be useful.
In short, certification isn't an indicator of technical skills, but it sure does help open some doors. ¬*