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If you want to work in IT in 2023, completing a training program and earning a VMware certification will set you up for a high-paying career. Many companies won't even consider a resume without a certain level of IT training in the various VMware certification paths.
For those new to information technology, there are entry-level VMware courses and certifications that will allow you to enter the industry and begin a rewarding career. VMware training programs involve comprehensive instructor-led courses and a range of certification tracks.
The basic VMware certification hierarchy goes like this:
- VMware Certified Technical Associate (VCTA): The lowest level of certification: VCTA is meant for people who are just starting their IT careers.
- VMware Certified Professional (VCP): The next step up and the most common certification—the VCP certification—is for people with some experience working with VMware products.
- VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP): This advanced-level certification, for those with extensive VMware experience and expertise, has an additional two tracks: Design and Deployment.
- VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX): The highest level of certification is VCDX; it’s reserved for VMware professionals who are at the top of their field.
Each level of VMware certification builds on the preceding level, so it's important to pass that one before advancing to the next.
Let's look at how to start your VMware certification journey and what decisions you'll have to make along the way. The first step you'll want to take is enrolling in a course with an authorized training partner like ExitCertified. With the option of instructor-led, virtual, or self-paced courses, ExitCertified offers a comprehensive VMware curriculum to jumpstart your career. See the full list of VMware training courses available.
Once you have chosen your training provider, you’ll need to decide on the certification track that best suit your needs.
There are six VMWare certification tracks to choose from:
- Data Center Virtualization (DCV)
- Cloud Management and Automation (CMA)
- Security (SEC)
- Network Virtualization (NV)
- End-User Computing (EUC)
- Application Modernization (AM)
Once you’ve chosen your track, it's time to enroll in the VMware training program. If you’re just starting your IT career, you’ll want to obtain the VCTA certification, but if you’ve been working in IT for a while and have a basic understanding of virtualization and vSphere concepts, you can skip this and train to achieve the VCP certification.
The VCP certification validates that you have the skills required to administer and operate a vSphere infrastructure. There are two exams required for this VMware certification: the vSphere Foundations Exam and the VMware Certified Professional Exam.
However, simply attending training courses isn’t the only thing you need to do to pass the exam. You’ll need real-world experience. If you don’t have the opportunity to gain that experience, consider completing a VMware Certified Technical Associate (VCTA) certification first.
Once you have achieved your VCP, you can move on to the next level of certification, the VCAP, and then, finally, the highest level, the VCDX.
With the IT field rapidly growing and employers continually looking for the best candidates, the certifications listed below can help you obtain some of the highest-paying jobs in the industry.
Kicking off the list is the VCTA program. This is the entry-level certification that attests you have the knowledge to perform operational tasks within a virtualized infrastructure, in zones that span networking, security, multicloud operations and device management. At this point, no matter what track you take, if you’re new to virtualization or vSphere, you’ll be required to attend the Core Technical Skills course to learn the fundamentals of VMware vSphere.
This is the most common VMware certification, and although it ranks relatively low on this list, it can still result in a lucrative salary. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for VMware Certified Professionals is $136,665.
For the most common track, DCV, you will have to complete one of the following courses:
- VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale
- VMware vSphere: Troubleshooting
- VMware vSphere: Fast Track
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale plus Troubleshooting Fast Track
- VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop
Remember, you’ll also need real-world experience before taking your VCP certification exam.
We now get into the advanced certifications. The CMA track is for designing, installing, configuring, optimizing, and supporting vRealize and other cloud-based solutions.
There are two paths to acquiring your VCAP-CMA certification. If you hold no prior VCP certifications, it’s highly recommended that you gain experience with vSphere and vRealize before attempting the exam and you will be required to attend a VMware vRealize Automation: Install, Configure, Manage training course. If you already hold a VCP certification, you won’t be required to attend a training course.
The NV track will validate expertise in designing, implementing, and managing a VMware NSX environment. To get your VCAP-NV certification, you are required to achieve your VMware Certified Professional track certification first. Although you don’t have to, VMWare recommends that you first complete the VMware NSX-T Data Center: Troubleshooting and Operations course.
The EUC track will validate IT skills in installing and managing end-user computing solutions and expertise in VMware Workspace One and VMware Horizon. This certification requires the same VCP track certificate we mentioned in bullet point 9. Consider completing the VMware Horizon: Install, Configure, Manage course to start.
The DCV track is by far the most popular track, and while that sometimes leads to a saturation in the IT job market, employers still seek employees who hold the VCAP-DCV certification. The certification validates expertise in designing, installing, and managing VMware vSphere environments. For this certification, VMware recommends that you complete the VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale course.
Once you reach the Certified Design Expert level, you are looking at an average salary of $152,000 according to This is the highest VMware certification level and is meant for the most experience IT professionals.
For this certification, you'll need the previously mentioned VCP-CMA certificate and the VCIX-CMA Badge. After achieving your certification and badge, you will submit an application applying for certification, be given an assignment to design a system based on a blueprint. You'll then submit your design and a code of conduct form attesting to maintaining exemplary standards of professional conduct. After the testers review your design and paperwork, you must give an oral defense of your design. Advanced training courses like VMware Cloud on AWS: Deploy Configure Manage can help get you closer to this elite level.
Four tracks offer the VCDX certification and require expertise in vSphere and NSX platforms. The VCDX certification requires a successful oral defense of a VMware vSphere based virtual infrastructure design. A course like VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer: ICM plus Troubleshooting and Operations Fast Track can push you toward the end, as it will help you be able to describe many aspects of NSX, which will be useful during your oral defense.
For the EUC track, you must demonstrate enterprise-class Horizon and Workplace One expertise, along with vSphere knowledge. Your path to achieving this certification is similar to the path for the VCDX-CMA, but you’ll need different prerequisites. The prerequisites this time are the VCP-DTM certificate and VCIX-DTM Badge. You will then be asked to create a design for blueprint, submit your design, which must pass a review, and then give an oral presentation defending the design.
IT professionals who maintain the Data Center Virtualization certificate are experts in VMware enterprise deployments. To pass the VCIX certification, you will be required to design, submit, and orally defend a system based on a provided blueprint. This time, however, you will be designing a vSphere 6.x system. Thus, this certification requires an expert level of understanding vSphere 6.x. The VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop will provide you with the knowhow to tackle advanced vSphere system issues.
Becoming an IT professional with in-demand skills requires intensive training and examination, and with the right VMware certification path, you’ll be able to achieve your career goals and stand out as a fierce contender in a rapidly growing IT industry.
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