This content is part of the Essential Guide: The road to success begins with a virtualization certification path
Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

Preparing for the VCP exam and advanced VMware certifications

There are different course requirements, costs and objectives for each level of VMware certifications, so it’s best to do your homework before taking the VCP exam or others.

The time is now to get your VMware Certified Professional certification -- whether or not you’ve adopted vSphere...

5 at your company.

As VMware’s baseline certification, the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) can provide many benefits: recognition in the industry, respect from peers, salary increases and validation of your skills. VMware also currently provides VCP holders with the right to include the VCP logo on business cards and websites, a complementary license for VMware Workstation 8, invitations to beta exam programs and discounts to VMware events.

Let’s jump into the requirements and objectives for the VMware VCP exam, and also cover considerations for more advanced VMware certifications. Whether you are a VMware VCP now, or are just interested in becoming one, here’s what you need to know about the VCP exam:

Course requirement. If you aren’t a VCP today, you’ll have to take a VMware Education course, either online or in a classroom before you take the VCP exam. Depending on your current VMware certifications, there are various paths it could take to achieve your VCP 5, the latest update to the certification.

Registration. To register for the VMware VCP exam, go to the Pearson VUE website and select the test you want to take.

Exam format. The VCP 5 exam consists of 85 questions and a short, pre-exam survey with eight questions. You can view the official exam blueprint to get a feel for the format. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam, and your final score is determined on a 100-500 scale. The passing score for the VMware VCP 5 exam is 300.Passing the VCP exam demonstrates that you can:

1. Plan, install, configure and upgrade vCenter Server and VMware ESXi
2. Plan and configure vSphere networking
3. Plan and configure vSphere storage
4. Deploy and administer virtual machines and vApps
5. Establish and maintain service levels
6. Perform basic troubleshooting
7. Monitor a vSphere implementation and manage vCenter Server alarms

So what should you study?

There is no replacement for hands-on experience. Spend some time building a lab environment and use vSphere. If you’re upgrading to vSphere 5, learn about what’s new in this version. For me, the process of creating my vSphere 5 video training course helped me tremendously to pass the VCP 5 exam. Here are other resources that can help you prepare:

My experience with the VCP exam has been that many of the things I studied weren’t on the exam and, instead, questions on the exam came from things I learned from actually using vSphere.

You should also know that besides the traditional VMware VCP, there is a VCP-Desktop (or VCP-DT) certification available now. Before attempting the VCP-DT, you have to get your basic VCP certification first. However, the latest VCP-DT still covers View 4, not View 5.

About the VCP 5 exam

If you are a VCP 4, you must take the VCP 5 exam before Feb. 29, 2012 or you have to pay to take a VMware Education class all over again. The cost of the test itself is $225; not getting your VCP 5 now could cost you or your company thousands of dollars and a week out of work.

The VCAP and VCDX haven’t been updated yet to cover vSphere 5, and there is no official word yet on what the upgrade process will be for existing certification holders.

Advanced VMware certifications

VMware also offers two advanced certifications: the VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP), which has two tracks, Datacenter Design and Datacenter Administration, and the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). Both advanced VMware certifications require that you have a VCP, and for the VCAP you must take a lengthy hands-on exam at select locations.

The VCDX is for veteran VMware pros that are skilled at architecting enterprise deployments. Applicants must be VCP holders and also pass both branches of the VCAP exam. To become a VCDX, you must present and defend a vSphere infrastructure design and implementation plan.

VMware Certified Associate

VMware’s newest certification is the VMware Certified Associate (VCA). Today, the only VCA available is the VCA-Desktop. This entry-level certification covers VMware’s desktop virtualization tool, VMware View. Today, the VCA-DT covers View 4, just like the VCP-DT.

The beauty of the VCA-DT is that it’s the only VMware certification (besides sales-based certs) that you can obtain without taking a VMware Education class or getting your VCP first. (I hope that VMware will soon release a VCA covering View that allows you to take the VCP exam without having to take a VMware Education class.)

Whichever path you take, VMware certifications are a critical piece of getting a job, keeping a job, and getting promoted. If you are a VMware administrator without a VCP, get certified now.

Next Steps

VMware server virtualization certifications guide

VMware certification options

VCP, VCDX losing value, survey says

Navigating VMware certifications: VCP, VCAP, VCDX

Dig Deeper on VMware Certified Professional (VCP and VCAP)