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VMware certification options: VCP, VCDX

Learn what it takes to become a VMware Certified Professional (VCP). Or, take a look at VMware's newest certification level: the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX).

The VMware Certified Professional (VCP) is increasing in popularity, despite the high cost and strict requirement for taking a VMware-authorized training course. With the introduction of the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX), VCPs can strive for an even more advanced title. After reading this article, you will be familiar with each of the VMware certification options and be able to determine which is right for you.

VCP curriculum
The VCP is VMware's certification covering VMware Infrastructure Suite (including ESX Server). To achieve the VCP, you are required to take one of two VMware classes and pass a computer-based test at a local testing center. The class must be either "VI3: Install and Configure" or "VI3: Deploy, Secure and Analyze." The VMware classes can be taken either in a classroom or online. Either way, you must take VMware's class to become a VCP. You can not take a class hosted by your local Microsoft Windows training center nor can you do self-study.

The VCP certification exam is difficult. I am a VCP; I've been through the VMware courses and have passed the VCP exam. It's no walk in the park. And because you are required to take a VMware Education course at a cost of at least $3000 there is a large barrier to entry for regular people. Most of the administrators who take these classes and achieve the VCP are sponsored by their employer.

I checked with VMware and the latest numbers available say that there are over 15,000 VCPs. To put this in perspective, consider how many Hyper-V certified admins are operating—none. Microsoft doesn't have a certification program for virtualization.

I am the author of an extensive video training course covering VMware ESX Server. While my video training series is (in my opinion) the best and most affordable training option for those wanting to do self-study covering VMware ESX Server, I also know that it won't allow you to take the VCP certification test and become a VCP.

More on VMware certification
For more on VMware certification, read VMware education gaining momentum and VCP certification highly marketable in today's IT job market.

Additional VMware training sources There other VMware training options available, too, such as the new architect-level certification from VCDX. Introduced in early 2008, the VCDX is a much higher level certification than the VCP. Incidentally, I felt a little cheated when I first learned about the VCDX because I thought that I had received the highest level of VMware certification available when I completed the VCP.

There are three steps to becoming a VCDX, including a VCP pre-requisite:

  1. Take the Enterprise-Level System Admin Exam (see the Enterprise Exam Blueprint for information on what it covers) – according to VMware, "this test includes live labs and tests a higher level of skill set than the exam for VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3."
  2. Take the Design Exam – According to VMware, "this exam focuses on actual design scenarios and contains simulations and situational questions."
  3. Submit and defend a successful VMware Infrastructure design plan – so far, I haven't seen any details on exactly what this means.

If you think that you already have what it takes to become a VCDX, VMware offers a free VCDX skills review that you can take online.

Admins who complete the VCDX really just receive recognition for going above and beyond what the other 15,000+ VCPs; and in doing so, prove that you have additional VMware enterprise system admin and advanced design knowledge. Cost was not available at the time of this writing. The VCDX is a very new certification and not a lot of information is available,

In closing, VMware seems to be working hard to increase their certification offerings and to ensure that the value of those certifications remains high. My hope is that they offer more details and resources for the new VCDX certification and keep up the good work with the VCP.

About the author: David Davis (CCIE #9369, VCP, CWNA, MCSE, CISSP, Linux+, CEH) is the Director of Infrastructure at Train Signal, Inc. He has written hundreds of articles and six video training courses – including the  Train Signal VMware ESX Server video training series. His websites are  Happy and 

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