VMware training and certification on a budget

One of the problems with working for a smaller company is that the money for training is rarely in the budget.  For this reason, I have to find alternative routes that I can afford to pay for myself.  VMware has a fairly expensive barrier to entry in that the prerequisite for the VCP program is a pricey formal class.  I actually like this idea because it rarefies the certification somewhat.  I still remember the heady days of the paper MCSE where anyone could do a test dump and get certified.

VMware has several levels of certification.  They have the Associate program, which requires no class time and certifies that you have a very basic understanding of the product.  They have Professional program at the next level, which does requires class time and has a fairly difficult multiple-choice test.  Then there’s the Advanced Professional (the one I’m currently working on) for which the test is entirely lab work, and lastly the Design Expert level which I liken to a doctoral thesis in that you have to present a design before a review board and defend it.

It was tough to afford the Install, Configure, and Manage class.  However, while I was looking for ways to pay for it, I learned that the ICM class is sometimes offered through local community colleges and adult continuing education.  Unfortunately, here in Indianapolis the only community college is ITT Tech and they didn’t offer the class, so I started looking for online classes.  The only one I found was newly-offered through Stanley Community College in North Carolina.

Because it’s one of the few places to offer the class online, the wait list is significant.  I signed up just a few months after it was offered and my wait was expected to be six months.  Luckily, a slot opened up and I squeaked into the Fall semester last year.  As I understand it, the wait time has now reached 9-12 months.  That’s a long time to wait, but since the class is only about $150 or so (compared to around $3,000 for the regular class), it might be worth it to you to wait.  When I took it, I also received a voucher for a free exam which is worth about $200, so the class is an unbelievable deal.

The online class is 8 weeks long and is almost entirely self-paced.  You watch the lesson videos as they become available and then do the lab work through their system.  I ended up scheduling the test two weeks before the class ended, and so now I have a test voucher that I can’t use because I didn’t know that it was part of the class benefit.  I had already paid for the test!

You can still take the VCP exam without the class, but you won’t be certified until you have both.  Given that versions and certification requirements get updated, I would recommend taking them fairly close together if possible.

So, where do you go after the VCP?  Well, no more formal training is required (barring updating your certifications  as long as you stay current, no further classroom training is required) but it’s always ALWAYS a good thing to get expert help when you’re working on a test.  There’s no end to the self-study material on the internet.   I stumbled across PluralSight (formerly Train Signal).  PluralSight is subscription-based and they offer all of the content on the sight for $29/month with higher tiers giving access to value-added services like exercises and so forth.  There is a ton of VMware content there, including the entire Optimize and Scale class expertly presented by Jason Nash.  I’ve learned more sitting through that course than any other VMware training I’ve taken.

I also recommend picking up a copy of Mastering VMware vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe. Note that Scott has also released a 5.5 book, but both the VCP and the VCAP tests are currently written for 5.0 although I expect them both to be updated later this year. The 5.5 test has been released.  You can take either the 5.0/5.1 test (VCP510) or the 5.5 test (VCP550) to qualify for the VCP5-DCV.

Lastly, read the test blueprint.  The test blueprint is free and it spells out everything you need to know to pass the test.  Once you know what you’re going to be tested on, it’s easy to find the information.

The training is out there and it is affordable.  It’s hard to find, but it can be had.

9 thoughts on “VMware training and certification on a budget

  1. That’s my brother. I’m so very proud of him. Nice opener. I guess the Sandwiches in the title have nothing to do with food. 😦 I’ll pass this along to my friends in the computer field. 🙂

    • See…this is what the IT people hate. Commenting before reading everything. I started with the blog and not with the About. Sandwiches AND Virtualization…who woulda thunk it?

      • I’ll name a sandwich after you for the restaurant. I’ll call it the “Diane” and you won’t know what kind it will be until you bite into it. Will it be ham and cheese? Mayonnaise and jelly? You won’t know. Exciting!

    • You can take the exam but VMware will only certify you if you attend an approved class (either online or in person) and pass the VCP exam. Merely studying the material on your own will not satisfy the requirement of formal training.

    • Yep- what Frank said. The course from Stanly is totally worth it. Since you’re required anyway, you might as well get the most out of it you can.

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