VMware Certified Professional (VCP) is a certification designed to demonstrate technical competency with VMware vSphere and related technologies. In order to obtain this certification, a candidate must take a VMware-authorized training course, either online or in person; demonstrate hands-on experience with VMware technologies; and pass the vSphere Foundations Exam, as well as an elective exam if he chooses to specialize in a specific technology track.
VMware instated a recertification policy on March 10, 2014. VCP certifications are valid for two years, at which time the candidate must retake the vSphere Foundations Exam -- as well as any relevant elective exam -- to remain certified.
Different VMware certification levels
VCP was once the only VMware certification offered, but it is now part of a larger certification matrix, which includes four specialized tracks and four levels of certification.
Applicants can specialize in one of the following areas:
- Data Center Virtualization (DCV): Demonstrates ability to design, install, configure and manage VMware vSphere environments. Requires hands-on experience with vSphere and related technologies. Applicants must attend a mandatory training course and pass a VCP-DCV elective exam.
- Network Virtualization (NV): Demonstrates ability to design, install, configure and manage a VMware NSX environment. Requires hands-on experience with vSphere, NSX and related technologies. Applicants must attend a mandatory training course and pass a VCP-NV elective exam.
- Cloud Management and Automation (CMA): Demonstrates ability to install, configure and optimize public, private and hybrid clouds with the VMware vRealize Suite. Requires hands-on experience with vSphere, vRealize and related technologies. Applicants must attend a mandatory training course and pass a VCP-CMA elective exam.
- Desktop and Mobility (DTM): Demonstrates ability to install, configure and maintain virtual desktops and applications with VMware Horizon Suite. Requires hands-on experience with vSphere, Horizon and related technologies. Applicants must attend a mandatory training course and pass a VCP-DTM elective exam.
The four levels of certification come with varying degrees of difficulty and different requirements. They are as follows:
- VMware Certified Associate (VCA): VMware's entry-level cloud and virtualization certification. VCA is designed for those who want to demonstrate an aptitude for implementing VMware technology correctly. To obtain VCA certification, the candidate must take a VCA exam; this exam assesses a candidate's working knowledge of VMware products and systems, rather than technical skills. There is no course requirement for VCA certification; however, VMware recommends that candidates take a free e-learning training course to prepare for the exam. The VCA exam is nonproctored.
- VMware Certified Professional (VCP): VMware's midlevel certification. In addition to the basic VCP certification, there are four VCP certification tracks: VCP-DCV, VCP-NV, VCP-CMA and VCP-DTM. The vSphere Foundations exam is nonproctored, while the specialized elective exams are proctored.
- VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP): VMware's upper-midlevel certification. To attempt VCAP certification, a candidate must first obtain VCP certification. There are two types of VCAP exams: the VCAP Deployment exam and the VCAP Design exam. The VCAP Deployment exam has four different areas of specialization, while the VCAP Design exam has three. They are as follows: VCAP-DCV Deploy certification, VCAP-NV Deploy certification, VCAP-CMA Deploy certification, VCAP-DTM Deploy certification, VCAP-DCV Design certification, VCAP-CMA Design certification and VCAP-DTM Design certification. There are separate exams for each track and for each certification option, all of which are proctored. Any candidate who passes both the VCAP Deployment and Design exams within a certain track automatically earns VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX) certification. Although it isn't mandatory, VMware recommends that VCAP candidates attend a training course.
- VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX): VMware's highest level of certification. VCDX demonstrates enterprise-level understanding of VMware product design and implementation. There are four VCDX certification tracks: VCDX-DCV, VCDX-NV, VCDX-CMA and VCDX-DTM. VCDX certification requires multiple prerequisite certifications, including VCP and VCIX. Once the candidate has earned these certifications, he must submit a design plan for a large virtualized infrastructure environment. If the plan is accepted, the candidate must then present and defend the plan before a panel of VCDX holders.
How to prepare for the test
The VCP exam consists of 85 questions and a short, pre-exam survey that consists of eight questions. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam. The VCP exam is scored on a 100-500 scale; the passing score is 300. There is a seven-day waiting period to retake the VCP exam after a failed attempt at a proctored exam. There is no waiting period after a failed attempt at a nonproctored exam.
The cost of sitting for a VCP-level exam is $225; however, training courses and supplementary study materials come at additional costs. VMware offers exam prep packages for its standard vSphere Foundations exam, as well as for each specialized certification track. These e-learning exam packages include a comprehensive review of exam content and are taught by VMware instructors.
In addition to using VMware-sponsored resources such as the VCP Community and the VMware Learning Zone, candidates should review the official exam blueprint, take online practice exams, find or join a study group and build a lab environment to test out unfamiliar configurations and tools.
Candidates can view exam options, locate a test center and sign up for a VCP exam through the Pearson VUE website.
The benefits of becoming a VCP
VCP certification comes with a number of benefits from VMware, including access to official transcripts, free use of the VCP certification logo, invitations to beta exams and classes, a VMware digital badge, discounts from the VMware Press and discounted admission to VMware events. VCDX certification comes with additional benefits, including membership to the vExpert community, opportunities to provide specific feedback to product engineers, press release support and a bio feature in the VCDX Directory.
VCP certification can help improve a candidate's career prospects. Most companies that use VMware virtualization software expect their technicians and administrators to be certified, because certification is an easy way to verify a potential employee's abilities and to prove those abilities to clients. Most VCP-certified individuals find employment as systems administrators, IT managers or systems engineers.
Certification can also potentially lead to an increase in salary. In 2017, salaries for a VCP-certified systems administrator can range between $49,000 and $95,000, while salaries for a VCP-certified IT manager can range between $55,000 and $120,000.