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What Does a VDI Engineer Do and How Do You Become One?

Are you interested in starting a career managing virtual desktop infrastructures as a VDI engineer? Learn about the skills they use on the job and how you can become one.

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) engineer is responsible for architecting, planning and implementing desktop virtualization technology -- which enables users of endpoint devices to access an operating system and apps, delivered by a networked server or cloud data center. The endpoint may be a traditional PC, thin client device or a mobile device.

VDI engineers ensure that the system hardware, operating systems, software systems, virtual servers and related procedures deliver an effective end user experience that adheres to organizational values and mission requirements, enabling mission success.

What Skills Do VDI Engineers Use?

Because VDI engineers are universally steeped in designing and deploying virtual desktops, they are expected to be well-versed working with desktop virtualization products such as Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon, VMware ESXi and vCenter and Citrix NetScaler. Because VDI engineers often work in cloud-based environments, more opportunities are available to those who have experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Many employers also look for candidates who have scripting and configuration management experience. These include:

How to Gain VDI Education and Experience

There are multiple paths to become a VDI engineer. Most of them are offered directly by vendors, or in conjunction with education publishing companies such Pearson. Among the most prominent certifications are offered by VMware and Citrix.

VMware offers four virtualization certifications:

  • VMware Certified Associate (VCA): This entry-level technical certification is for anyone new to the industry or advancing their careers, performing operational tasks typically delegated by system administrators of virtualized environments.
  • VMware Certified Professional (VCP): This level is designed for IT professionals who install, configure, manage and optimize VMware.
  • VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP): This advanced-level certification is for those who design and build (VCAP Design) or manage and optimize (VCAP Deployment) in VMware.
  • VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX): The highest level of VMware certification, VCDX recognizes IT professionals who design, build and manage VMware systems.

Citrix offers numerous online VDI training and certification classes for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. Formerly known as Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is available in three versions:

  • Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard (formerly XenDesktop VDI)
  • Virtual Apps and Desktops Advanced (formerly XenDesktop Enterprise)
  • Virtual Apps and Desktops Premium (formerly XenDesktop Platinum)

Citrix certifications include:

  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Citrix Cloud Certified (CC-VAD-CC): Validates skills on Citrix Cloud.
  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service Integration with Microsoft Azure Certified (CC-VAD-MA): Validates skills for integrating the Virtual Apps and Desktops service and delivering Virtual Apps and Desktops to Microsoft Azure.
  • Citrix Certified Professional - Virtualization (CCP-V): Focused on engineering and offered only through Pearson VUE.
  • Citrix Certified Expert - Virtualization (CCE-V): certifies the skills needed to assess and design practical Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops by experienced IT solution designers, such as architects, engineers and consultants.

Other Paths to Becoming a VDI Engineer

VDI engineers don't work in a vacuum. Employers expect candidates who have broad technical skills in related disciplines, particularly in cloud computing and networking. They also expect leadership skills because VDI engineers often act as the liaison between central technologies and end user profile support teams. Moreover, some of the biggest demand for VDI is from the defense sector, where government agencies and contractors expect tech workers to take ownership of their projects.

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