Beyond that lives VMware's top level certification, the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). Very few people have attained this level of certification (somewhere just north of 50 individuals), and there's good reason for that. In order to achieve this special designation, a person not only has to pass the VCP and both tracks of the VCAP, they also have to submit a VCDX application that is accepted and then successfully present and defend a VMware vSphere-based virtual infrastructure design and implementation plan.
Davis suggests that most admins should probably stick with the VCP and the VCAP, calling the VCDX "a special cert that takes a special person with special experience -- and that's not just anyone."
Microsoft is certainly no stranger to IT certifications, and the Redmond giant offers two certification tracks that cover both server virtualization and desktop and application virtualization. The first, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), is designed for IT professionals with one or more years of experience and a strong background in troubleshooting and deployment. Passing a single MCTS exam will bestow the MCTS credential for that exam's technology. Current exams include Exam 70-669 (Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization), Exam 70-659 (Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization), and Exam 70-652 (Windows Server Virtualization, Configuring).
The second, Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), is Microsoft's top-level certification. To gain this distinction one must pass at least two of the above MCTS exams and an MCITP exam, Exam 70-693 (Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator). According to Microsoft, before taking this exam candidates should have one to three years of experience using Microsoft virtualization products, including Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in a Windows Server 2008 R2 infrastructure.
Citrix takes a slightly different approach to its virtualization education, calling it an end-to-end virtualization certification. The company has developed two certification tracks. The first, the Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) for Virtualization, is focused on the virtualization skills needed to plan, integrate, and execute a robust virtualization infrastructure that scales to meet the most demanding enterprise requirements. Having the CCEE will demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge around all of the Citrix virtualization technologies, including XenApp, XenServer, Provisioning Server, and XenDesktop. Because the certification cuts across multiple Citrix technologies, there are a number of different exam choices that can be taken.
The second certification, the Citrix Certified Integration Architect (CCIA) for Virtualization, validates the knowledge and skills required to analyze, design, and implement dynamic virtualization environments, from the data center to the desktop. To become CCIA certified, a person needs to first pass the CCEE examination. A CCIA candidate should have extensive field experience related to architecting Citrix virtualization-based solutions prior to examination. Once ready, they take the A16 Architecting a Citrix Virtualization Solution exam.
"The VCP may be close to what the MCSE once was -- one of the most well-known infrastructure certs," Davis said. But the Citrix and Microsoft virtualization certifications don't enjoy such high profiles, which is probably in direct relationship to their respective market shares, he added.
Certifications can offer an IT pro a competitive advantage, but as with other IT skills, at the end of the day there is little substitute for hands-on experience.
And don't forget that when you get certified in virtualization, you're also gaining one of the key enablement skills needed to build a private cloud for your organization. Beyond virtualization, prepare to add cloud-ready to your expanding resume.
This article, "The top virtualization certifications for a tight job market," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.