VMware Certifications: 6 Things You Need to Know

VMware software drives a lot of companies’ cloud computing and virtualization initiatives. If you want to work with tech stacks and back-end infrastructure, in other words, you’re probably wondering what you need to know about VMware certifications. 

There’s good news for technologists at every stage of their career: VMware certification tracks range from entry-level certifications (ideal for new and just-graduated technologists as well as executives making decisions about the tech stack) to the most experienced professionals tasked with architecting massive systems (the certification that aligns with those senior-level needs is the VCDX). 

Dice Insights spoke with Karl Childs, senior certification manager at VMware, to find out which VMware certifications are the most popular, what they cost, the benefits they bring—and why they don’t expire. 

How many VMware certifications are there? 

There are 21 formal certifications, plus “digital badges.” As the VMware business evolves the certifications will inevitably evolve to mirror developing skills, Childs said: “With the modernizing of our apps, our certifications will follow suit. It’s a fluid process.”  

What VMware certifications are the most in-demand? 

Childs said the company’s largest volume of certifications is still the VSphere and virtual core certifications; for example, the VMware Certified Professional Data Center Virtualization 2020 (VCP-DCV 2020) certification. But he also noted that VMware is seeing a lot of growth in network, security and cloud certifications.

“While the volume isn’t as large there, the ramp up is much quicker,” he said. “We also see a change in job roles in organizations: As they become less siloed, they starting to manage some cloud aspects, troubleshooting networking and security. That’s driving a lot of the uptick as well in the certification in those areas.”  

Is obtaining VMware certifications easy or hard? 

“I guess it’s kind of relative right? A lot of our certifications definitely require some hands on experience,” Childs said. “We very much recommend—and in some cases require—training attendance, so that you have those skills.”

The insistence on hands-on training and attendance in training courses are ways of making sure that candidates really understand the areas in which they’ll be questioned.

“We put rigor behind the certification process, so that you really do have that minimal set of competencies,” he said. “If we lower the bar too much, the certification would not hold value. It really does come down to the individual and how much they prepare, and how much experience they have.”  

What are the benefits to obtaining these certifications? 

“We ask our candidates that very question to make sure it is adding value to their lives,” Childs said. “It’s not a guarantee, but it does help with promotions and getting jobs. But beyond that, in general, with IT certifications, you find that people are finding the biggest benefits to be intangible.”

In other words, certification training helps put candidates in the mindset of solving problems. Resolving issues and creating new challenges is a joy that goes beyond a salary increase. “Going through the process of obtaining the certification enables them to do more, and companies have found that value from their employees who are certified,” Childs added. The added salary leverage that can come with certifications doesn’t hurt, either.  

But beyond tangible benefits like promotions and salary bumps, Childs pointed out these certifications also enhance professional credibility and job productivity: “It really does increase their effectiveness and their attractiveness within the industry.” 

How much does it cost to get a VMware certification?  

As Childs explained, there are four levels of certifications, and the cost ranges with each level. Introductory certifications consist of online exam that costs $125; the second level of certifications requires a training and two exams (which cost $250 each); while the third level consists of a single exam priced at $450.

“Then we have the Elite level—only 300 people in the world have it—that’s $4,000,” Childs said. “So the costs vary, but they increase as you move up the stack.”  

Do these certifications expire?

Simply put: No. 

“That has actually been a recent change in the program—our certifications do not expire,” Childs said. “We leave that up to the individual to decide when to re-certify. It’s important to recertify, but instead of us telling the candidates when to do it, they decide—but the longer they wait, the bigger the delta is, which means they will have a lot more to do compared to if they updated in a year or two.”