VMware certification is a great way to boost your worth in the market. In addition to the employer recognition and compensation benefits you’ll get, VMware certifications come with a pretty big list of perks. You’ll get professional recognition of your technical knowledge and skills, greater opportunities for career advancement, official transcripts from VMware that you can link, VMware Digital Badges for your earned certifications, you’ll be granted use of the logos that come with your certification, you’ll get access to the exclusive VMware certification portal & logo merchandise store. If that wasn’t enough, you also get discounts from VMware Press (you can use this to purchase materials for higher certifications, or just books to keep you at the bleeding edge of VMware technologies and best practices), discounted admission to VMware events like VMworld, and invitation to beta exams and classes to help you stay current and certify at a discounted rate.
Getting started on a VMware certification track is easier than you might think. They’ve even provided this handy roadmap for each of the tracks offered. As of this writing, there are four certification tracks to choose from:
- Data Center Virtualization (DCV) – This is by far the most popular professional level certification track that VMware offers. Recognized world-wide in the industry, the DCV certification validates that you know how to design, install, configure, manage, administer and troubleshoot vSphere infrastructures, and leverage best practices to provide a scalable and reliable virtualization platform.
- Network Virtualization (NV) – This track will validates your ability to design, install, configure, administer and troubleshoot NSX virtual networking implementations, regardless of the underlying physical architecture. Earning your NV certification can help transform the economics of network and security operations for your company.
- Cloud Management and Automation (CMA) – This track validates your ability to design, install, configure, manage and administer a VMware vRealize environment, used to automate key processes within your Data Center in a repeatable, scalable way that leads to efficiency and improved productivity. These skills enable you to simplify and standardize the more complex day to day activities, increasing your credibility and value within the organization.
- Desktop and Mobility (DTM) – This tack validates your ability to design, install, manage and administer VMware Horizon with View environments deployed on a VMware vSphere implementation.
If you looked at the certification roadmap, you’ll know that the highest level of VMware certification available is the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) certification. It’s not easy to get, and as of this writing there are only 265 VCDX certifications that have been awarded. That’s world-wide, and across all four tracks. When you earn a VCDX certification you are in an elite class of virtualization engineers. VMware gives you a featured bio page in the VCDX directory, automatic vExpert status which affords you all of the benefits of that program, and access to an exclusive SocialCast group with connections to VMware engineers, project managers and other VMware resources. You’ll get press release support, and you’ll also have the opportunity to provide specific feedback that reaches the right product engineers, which is pretty huge considering. You’ll also get access to specific VCDX merchandise in the store, and a free VCDX branded polo shirt.
Now that you have an understanding of how VMware certification works and what you can get out of getting certified, lets talk about my personal experience. The courses required to sit for professional level VMware exams aren’t cheap. Typically, if offered by VMware or a company like Global Knowledge, the courses can cost anywhere from $2,000.00 to $5,000.00, which is a lot more than anyone I know is willing to pay. For a long time, it was widely understood that companies would be footing the bill for these courses, and would certify several members of their staff at the same time.
Well that led to a lack of VMware certified professionals in the industry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked for employers who refused to send me to training or pay for certifications because they were afraid I’d get the experience, or the certification and leave for another opportunity. My management couldn’t wrap it around his head that the refusal to help me further my career was essentially forcing me out the door so that my career didn’t stagnate. If you’re in that situation, you’re in luck.
Look for continuing education classes at your local (or an online) community college or university. I took my Install, Configure, Manage course at a local community college for $800.00, which is still not cheap but at least it’s attainable. If you look hard enough, you can also find grants and sponsorship to help you pay for the certification course and tests. Reach out to your local VMUG leaders and see if they can put you in touch with a certified trainer, or steer you in the direction of a community college course on the cheap. A popular online offering is Stanly Community College, though VMware is about to rework the entire continuing education program so things might change.
Hopefully this helps some of you better understand VMware certification, and helps you find an affordable way to further your career!