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» VIEW ALL POSTS Oct 12 2007   11:33AM GMT

The Value of the VCP (VMware Certified Professional)



Posted by: Joe Foran
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Joseph Foran
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The VMware Certified Professional exam isn’t the easiest exam in the world, nor the hardest (many diverge on whether Red Hat, Citrix, or Cisco win that title for their premier certification levels), but it’s rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after enterprise certifications available. Since I’m still prepping for the test, and haven’t sat for it, I’m a little leery of making that statement, but I’ve sat through enough CBTs that are acclaimed for their similarity to the exam that I feel safe putting it out there, and I’ve taken the only class that VMware has geared towards the VCP exam. The question is why… Why is the VCP so valuable?

Because it’s a hot technology in the truest sense of the word, and one that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The story is slightly reminiscent of another darling of Wall Street, Citrix Systems, which appeared to fill in a void left by the need to remotely access applications and which has consistently improved its product lines and scope of business over the years. Interestingly enough, Citrix and VMware are about to go head to head in the market for virtualization customers following the CItrix / XenSource deal, and Citrix has always had a strong certification program (perhaps we’ll see some new certs, maybe CCXA – Citrix Certified Xen Admin or maybe CCVA – Citrix Certified Virtualization Admin). VMware, like Citrix, has made its mark with a single product (ESX), and then branched out to add more and more to the product line, always ensuring that there was a clear line of sight back from all of the added products to their main line (aka their “Core Competency” for those paradigm-shifting process re-engineering, value-adding self-empowered framework info-architects out there). This focus will make VMware an adopted technology almost everywhere, and another indicator of VMware’s “hotness” are their impressive number of customers. VMware claims 100% of the Fortune 100 and another 20,000 enterprise-level customers. That’s an impressive stock of customers in a relatively short lifespan.

Look no further than the IPO for proof that VMware is hot:

VMW Performance

What do these numbers mean when you put them together? People are using the product at all levels of business, and business is expanding into new market spaces, new market locations, and new customers. This means jobs are open for qualified staff, contracts are available for qualified consultants, and in both cases, money is there to be made. Like the MCSE when Windows NT4 debuted, the CNE when Novell 4 debuted, and all of the other business-transforming certifications, having the VCP is ticket to a higher salary. In fact, the VCP is one of the hottest salary items out there, judging from this comparison I made using the tools at indeed.com (in US dollars, covering the US market):

Cert Salary Comparison

Looking at those numbers, I’m astonished… a single-test exam cert beats out all but one of the other infrastructure certs in that list, including the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (seven exams at minimum), the Red Hat Certified Engineer (three exams, one of which is an on-site, hands-on lab), and the CCEA (five exams, one of which is also a hands-on lab). This is the market in a nutshell – the growth of virtualization is fueling a need, one that exceeds the need for other certifications, and so demand is driving up the earnings potential of VCPs just as much as the expertise level of the cert, if not more. In the long run, it will fade back in with the pack, but by then VMware will have undoubtedly expanded their certification program to include the typical technician/sysadmin/architect tier that most certification tracks fit into. The long and short of why the VMware’s certifications will remain higher than other certs is because all other non-hardware, IT-related products can run on top of VMware, inside guest machines. This in turn means that at the basic level, VMware will be more important than them all because it’s the root of the tree. Trained, certified people will command bigger salaries because VMware’s root-level position means it will also be the top of the food chain – hardware / virtualization / operating system / application.

This isn’t just a US trend, there are numbers from many countries as well. I qualified the chart above by it’s location because there’s also this graph from itjobswatch.co.uk that I’d like to share:

Want to travel the world? Get VMware certified and go to work for the right company!

The really great thing about the VCP is that it’s cross-disciplinary – you have to have (or learn) some good all-around IT knowledge to pass the exam. Much like Citrix’s exams, you need to know more than just the core product. For the Citrix CCA and up it’s takes Windows, networking, and Citrix knowledge. For the VCP exam you need to know a little bit about operating system administration, hardware configuration, shared storage, and networking in order to pass, because each of these plays a role inside the Virtual Infrastructure platform. Personally, I can’t wait to take the exam – it’s not going to have one little bit of impact on my current position or any probably future positions (I’m at the top of the food chain in my day job), but I want it for the same reason I hold a CCA – at heart I’m a generalist who loves to know how things work (the official line is “so that I can understand their impact on the business and their relevance to meeting the shared goals of our company’s mission”, but I have to admit, I also enjoy the learning and the tinkering for their own sakes).

It’s not just a certification, like the slew of them we can all put on out resumes to impress the next interviewer, it’s a career-enhancing move. Does the certification make you any more of an expert than you may or may not be? That’d be debatable on a case-by-case, person-by-person basis, but it’s definitely a mark that you know what’s hot, and aren’t “stale”. The hotness-factor of the VCP is high, the demand is there in the market, and the value a VCP can add to your career makes it worth the time and effort to earn.

18  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Raf
    I've attained several certs over the years and I can't say the VCP was that difficult.. no more difficult than a CCNA. MCSE is certainly more difficult if nothing else for the shear number of tests and hours studied. I think this study is skewed due to the relative low numbers of VCP's. Once they become saturated the curve will drop accordingly.. by which time VCP will probably be several tests.
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  • Joe Foran
    If I would to go for VMware certification, what will I need to do? Of course study, but other than that what else?
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  • Joe Foran
    Here we go again with another "what's hot" study. The fact remains that if there are NO JOBS to be had, which there are NOT in this economy, then getting yet another cert will not help you. With 10+ years of experience, I fell for the MCSE bull**** back then, and lost my career with hundreds of thousands of other It people. After 6 years, I have yet to find employment back in IT again, despite 'retraining' into Linux, getting RHCE certified, etc. etc. And NO, I'm not a 'paper' cert person, I know my stuff. But when your own government allows your career to go to India and elsewhere, and will not allow their own citizens a chance to compete in their own country, you know you have been sold out. The IT game is OVER. It is NOT a career, it is only a JOB, and a miserable one these days at that. No, I will not fall for the "get your VCP and get a job!" mentality. I played that game too many times now, with nothing to show for it. IT can KISS MY A**. I've had it.
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  • Joe Foran
    RAF - Thanks for the observation, I agree, there area a lot of things that skew the results of any salary survery - the number of VCPs, the number of cross-certified VCPs, the market demand, etc. That's part of the VCP's value at the moment - it's in-demand right now because it's uncommon, something that already-certified IT pros are aiming at more than paper-chasers and new IT staff, and the technology behind the cert is very hot and skills with it are highly desired. I couldn't agree more about the test difficulty - the VCP is definately less difficult than the MCSE, RHCE, etc. Linux Tweaks - I'd recommend some good test prep software to complement studying and attending the requisite class(es). Robert - I'm sorry to hear you're having problems finding a job. I don't know what else to say about your comment, so I'll just say good luck.
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  • Joe Foran
    >The IT game is OVER. It is NOT a career, it is only a JOB If you have the skills there are plenty of awesome high paying IT jobs out there. Every skilled IT professional that I know is doing great. Last year I was looking for a new job and I had plenty of good offers. I work mainly in HA and DR and have since been moving also into the virtualization arena. The IT market only sucks for entry level people and for experienced jack-of-all-trades expert-at-none type people who might have plenty of experience but don't have any outstanding skills under their belt. If you really can't find a job then you probably fall into one of those categories. Or you are horrible at interviews. Or you are just an obnoxious person who nobody would want to wok with.
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  • BB
    Hi There Thanks for a very imformative article. I have my VCP and have +- 2 yrs VMware ESX experience and I live in Cape Town, South Africa. I would like to go and work in the UK or USA doing VMware what would be the best way to go about doing this because I don't have a work permit for either country. If the VCP qualification really in such demand in these countries and if so do you have any suggestion of companies I might get into contact in this regard to help me get a work permit and employment. Thanks
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  • Joe Foran
    Nuts! I'm that jack-of-all looking for a job right now. That explains the, "Well, you have lots of experience, we'll call you..." I love the job ads for the jack-of-all and then the list of requirments = master-of-all. "Required: CCNA, MCSE, 10 yrs Linux/Unix mainframes, and world class PHP programmer. Helpdesk duties as needed. Salary $35,000" WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING?!?
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  • Joe Foran
    I am starting to see other Virtualization Certifications out there. Not anything from Citrix but a non-vendor Cert. Certified Virtualization Expert (CVE) cert. It seems as it is geared to compete with VMware's actual class and their cert. My company sprang the bill for VI3 training, but it was not at an approved VMware site. The end result is that I cannot get the VCP without going to approved training again. Stay tuned.
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  • Joe Foran
    I went to http://www.certifiedvirtualizationexpert.com which I assume isn't the official site, but it did get me thinking.... Do you know who actually created or recognizes the Certified Virtualization Expert? It sounds like something that intenseschool.com may have created to try to compete with the VCP. Does anybody actually recognize it as a valid certification??? Mark
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  • Brett
    Virtualisation is the here and now. Everyone is getting into and in a big way. VMware are miles ahead in the game and it shows. The certification is a good thing to have and will be worth its weight in gold BUT just like the MCSE it is not something to just go out and do because you want to make some fast money, you will fail just like all the paper MCSE's of the 90's. There is money in IT but do not think you can walk through the front door with one little piece of paper and get 75k a year. I think you need to research a little more and you will see the guys getting 75k a year are the ones who have 10 years IT career under the belt and have just happened to add the VCP cert to the mix.
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  • Joe Foran
    Brett, you are spot on. I could not agree more. Certification can help but experience matters much more.
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  • Joe Foran
    i took a boot camp in virtualization offered by http://www.vmtraining.net i have avoided all the corporate sponsored certs and will probably take the CVE as opposed to VCP.
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  • Cpetry
    The VCP is the only cert I can think of that *requires* you take a certified training course, to ensure you're not one of those test crammers. In my eyes, because of the fact that you must be trained before you can take the VCP, it holds more weight than an MCSE.
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  • VMistry
    If VCP is hot in today's market , what other expertise recruiter expecting from the VCP certified people. I have checked opening for the VCP , but all are asking for experience. Is companies recruiting freshers in VCP ( means who have experience in windows , server , linux and unix , but don't have VMWare experience other than lab training from VMWare ), What are the chances of getting job ?
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  • Diggy
    Yes, I feel that the VCP does test in proving proficiency. I have taken some courses, but have not certified. Especially in this current job market, I cannot certify due to current unemployment from IT. This is my second stint in IT unemployment over the last 10 years and I have reached the end of my IT career. I have worked as a system integrator for about 7 years and in IS Security for about 4. I know others in the IT field that have certified with respect to VM, but those folks are employed and the org that they work for is committed to providing IT education as a strategic advantage. Off to the Healthcare field!
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  • Joe Foran
    It's nice to see that this article, after two and half years, still has some life in it.
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  • Vmwar
    You should do a follow up article and compare this to the data from today.
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  • Joe Foran
    [...] It’s taken quite a few years for the VCP to become mainstream – I got my VCP3 back in 2007 when it was a highly sought after and well paid cert but since then, although the demand has increased, the value has dropped. Will we have to wait [...]
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