Look, I know how hard it is to find a fantastic job out there. Networking, interviews, emails. Rinse, repeat. The only way to win over hiring managers is to set yourself apart. It’s the same story for earning promotions or raises. You need to show that you’re basically Beyoncé: irreplaceable.
It can be frustrating, but I’ve got good news. Certified professionals earn more, have more job security and increased confidence in their abilities than their non-certified colleagues.
Already started you certification journey and have your VMware Certified Professional certification (VCP)? There is no better time than now to take the next step in your career. You can start earning your VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) certification today.
You might be wondering: “What, exactly, do VCAP candidates need to do to earn their certification?”
First, you’ll first have to decide which track you want to pursue your VCAP in. You can receive your VCAP certification in four different key areas:
- Data Center Virtualization
- Digital Workspace
- Cloud Management and Automation
- Network Virtualization
After you pick your track, you have to decide if you want to pursue your VCAP in Design or VCAP in Deploy. Taking the VCAP in Design is focused on your ability to design and build VMware Solutions, and the test is a knowledge-based exam similar to the VCP. The VCAP Deploy is a little different. It was created to test your ability to manage and optimize VMware solutions and the test is a hands-on lab, where you need to execute tasks in about three hours. Feeling daring and adventurous, do both! If you can pass both parts of the VCAP, you can become a VCIX.
After you make your choices, then start studying! You can take courses in the topics of your choice or dig into the blueprints to understand what will be covered on the exam. Finally, pass a knowledge-based exam or showcase your skills during a hands-on exam and earn your certification.
If this sounds overwhelming, fear not. I’ve spoken to several VMware Advanced Certified Professionals about their journeys. They provided some sound advice and fun anecdotes to help you through this important process.
Why should I earn my VCAP certification?
Everyone reading this will have their own reason for pursuing a VCAP certification. Here are seven good reasons according to the real stars, our VCAPs.
Maarten Van Driessen is a VCAP who spoke to me from his home all the way in Antwerp, Belgium. He said, “do the VCAP you’re most comfortable with. If you’re an engineer, do the Deploy exam. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment.”
For engineers, the “Design exam really challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, stepping away from the tech and learning the business side of the equation.”
Some people might choose the certification that best fits their current skill set. Others might want to try something new and expand their current abilities.
Jesper Alberts agreed with the idea of leaving your comfort zone.
He earned his certification in part to see how far he could stretch. “It’s about pushing yourself. You’ve got skills but you want to validate them and sharpen, upgrade, enhance those. You’re also learning a lot of new stuff.”
Nathan Barry told me that he earned his VCAP certification to see things differently.
“For design, thinking through these attributes, requirements, constraints, assumptions and risks … give you a framework to look at projects through this lens.”
Richard Mena is a VCAP in Central America. His reason for earning VMware certifications? Well, other than the fact he enjoys helping clients with VMware so much.
“I saw that there were so few VCDXs around the world, only around 300. In Central America there is no one. In Latin America, only two.”
Richard hopes to encourage others in Central and South America to earn their certifications.
Before choosing your certification track, figure out your reason. It will make the process that much easier if you have a light to guide your way.
How do I prepare for the VCAP exam?
So, you’ve found your purpose and are excited to dig into the class material. What can you expect? How should you prepare for the ultimate exam?
Nathan recommends an old-fashioned method: reading. A lot. It’s not so exciting but it’s simple and effective.
“[The design exam is] a reading comprehension test. You really need to get in the habit of reading the [type of language on the exam] so you can parse it and understand it.”
Jesper suggests becoming acquainted with weird, out-of-the-box questions. How weird? He told me about one of the questions on his exam:
“Do you know how to approach virtualization when a data center is below sea level? Is that a risk or an assumption?”
He said that having answers to these types of questions is important. Why? Because the exams ask about very specific use cases than can throw you off, even if you understand the gist of the material.
Maarten thinks you can take a more, uh, proverbial approach and try walking a mile in others’ shoes.
“Talk to architects if you’re an engineer. Talk to engineers if you’re an architect. Reading others’ blogs and talking to peers helped me get the concept of design principles in my head. Once you get that concept it becomes easier to grasp the rest.”
Identified something you love doing? Check.
Read a lot? Check.
Prepped for weird questions? Check.
Talked to others about their experiences? Check.
Sounds like you’re ready to take the exam.
How will my certification help me?
That’s the million-dollar question. Well, maybe not literally a million-dollar question. But I think the answers here will help you put a concrete value on the certification you’ll earn.
Nathan regularly uses his skills to practice for the test. The deploy exam “is a hands-on test,” he told me. “And now a lot of those hands-on skills are things that I use every day.”
Clearly, Nathan puts those skills to good use regularly. I know because earning the certification also helped him earn a raise at work.
Richard finds that certifications equal connections. And connections mean opportunity and an even more fulfilling career.
“It’s important to understand that customers, when they see the certification badge, begin asking questions about it.” Those questions lead to connections and, for Richard, a deeper enjoyment of what he does.
Maarten has enjoyed the best of both Nathan and Richard’s worlds. Lucky guy.
He told me the VCAP certification “really opened doors… People hire people they think are qualified and certification is definitely a good measurement for that.”
Jesper likes the fact his certifications have simplified his interviews. He even told me a story about how certifications changed his interview process … for good.
Interviews “included a technical person, and he just opened the flood gates. Started running questions at me. Now, with my VCAP certification, there is a level of trust that I do know what I am doing.”
Jesper, armed with his VCIX, has the experience and confidence to approach any technical question thrown his way and hasn’t had to face a similar interview since.
Any final words of advice?
These are just a handful of VCAPs within the global certified professional community. I hope their experiences show you that this certification is doable! If you’re still not sure, I have some final words of advice from a few of these folks.
Richard says you should enjoy what you do. Sounds simple, but I know it’s not always that easy. His advice is a good reminder to take a step back and make sure this is the right journey for you.
“You need to understand how you’re going to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy technology, enjoy what you do, following a path for certification will be tough for you.”
Nathan assures you that this certification doesn’t have to be your final career destination. Only that it should help you move in the right general direction.
Maarten wants you to know that once you get started, it’s important to really dig in and embrace the ride.
“I kind of took that to heart and then grabbed that opportunity with both hands and never looked back.”
So, start your journey today, and don’t look back.
Earn your VCAP and see for yourself
Those who earn VCAPs do so for a variety of reasons, but a few commonalities tie them together. Everyone I spoke to recommends learning from others ahead of the exam, whether by reading or having conversations. And all these VCAPs noted how their own careers became more rewarding after earning their certifications.
Sign up for your VCAP exam today and see for yourself just how helpful these skills can be.
Still need convincing? See what IDC reports as some of the influences certified professionals have on the IT workforce.