Career / Career Progression

The Most Valuable Certifications for a Virtualization Career

by Team Nuggets
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Published on April 19, 2017

In a perfect world, mistakes would never happen. Unfortunately, that isn't realistic, especially in the world of networking. But when you bring virtualization into the mix, you add a layer of protection! Virtualization allows you to configure a system, operating system, hardware, and more to test just about anything without compromising an existing system or buying an expensive new setup that may not even work in the long run.

The ability to try new things will not only protect the integrity of your current system but also increase your efficiency as a company. We could go on for hours about how great virtualization is, but we'll leave that to VMware.

Time to Get Certified

Certifications are an essential part of any IT pro's career. They help you get started with the basics and further yourself into a specialization, especially with the modern advancements of virtualization. Everywhere you turn, virtualization is being used across the IT field, making related certifications extremely popular.

The certifications you'll need to earn vary depending on focus and competency level.

There aren't a ton of virtualization certifications out there, but that can be good news. A lot of the guesswork about certifications disappears when you have a narrower field of options. Let the products you actually use (or want to use) guide your certification decisions and priorities. Here are some of the best certs to chase in the wonderful world of virtualization.


Unsurprisingly, the industry leader in virtualization certifications is VMware. There are lots certifications offered by our friends at VMware, but our favorites (conveniently enough) are a couple of their most popular options.

  • If you need to work your way up to the VCP-level certifications, start with vSphere 6 Foundations. This is a newer certification for VMware and well worth your time in order to get up to speed with the skills and knowledge you need for the VCP cert.

  • The Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) certification gets top marks for giving you the knowledge that you need to be competitive in the field.

  • And we have our eye on the VMware version 7 certifications that are new on the scene. VMware doesn't offer a v7 Data Center Virtualization cert just yet, but we're looking forward to seeing that soon.


Networking juggernaut Cisco offers a variety of certifications that include and capitalize on virtualization skills and knowledge. *Please note that Cisco is currently revising many of its data center exams, some of which will retire on July 3, 2017.

  • The Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) Data Center is where virtualization really begins for Cisco. This cert sets you up for the Specialist and Professional-level certifications, so consider it your starting point for Cisco virtualization.

  • The Cisco Unified Computing Specialist certification covers the fundamentals of the Cisco Unified Computing System and tests your ability to implement a virtualized Data Center environment. This certification is going the way of the dodo soon. It will be retired July 4, 2017, so hurry if you want to earn this certification! If you can't squeeze this one in before it retires, the CCNP Data Center cert is the recommended replacement.

  • The Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Data Center certification is made up of four exams and is a beast. There are exam options that allow you to choose the most pertinent path for your cert, to a certain extent.


Microsoft's approach to virtualization is based on system administration where you might find yourself managing networks, administering servers, or even programming systems. There are a couple of certifications that will help you bridge your sysadmin and virtualization skills.


Citrix products are popular in the IT industry, and if you find yourself working with those products, Citrix certifications will be extremely valuable to you. Citrix is a long-time player on the virtualization landscape and offers three certifications you should pay attention to in your professional development:

  • Citrix Certified Association Virtualization (CCA-V)

  • Citrix Certified Professional Virtualization (CCP-V)

  • Citrix Certified Expert Virtualization (CCE-V)

Each of these certs focuses on Citrix's flagship product, XenDesktop, moving you through a sequence of increasingly complex skills and product knowledge.

Red Hat

Linux sysadmins, unite! Red Hat offers a variety of virtualization certifications that are highly valuable for sysadmins who have been unshackled from the big vendors. Red Hat offers a huge variety of certifications, many of which include virtualization, but there's one cert that stands out as a must-have for your virtualization career path.

  • The Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA) cert launches your Linux virtualization career and certifies your knowledge and ability to deploy and manage virtualization infrastructure, hosts, and guests using Red Hat Virtualization. The RHCVA also sets you up to pursue the Engineer- and Architect-level certifications.

It's important to never rush head-first into the process of getting certified. Sit down, take a look at what's available, and determine what is going to best fit your needs. Some certifications come in varying levels of proficiency, requiring a step-by-step process in order to move up the ladder. Creating a game plan ahead of time can save you time and energy, and we have even laid out a good certification pathway for getting a career using the cloud and virtualization in the past.

So, are you going to virtualize?

Which do you prefer: A server that can only run one operating system? Or a server that runs a Hypervisor that creates multiple virtual machines, which can run on a variety of operating systems that are all highly configurable at little or no extra cost? The second option is going to be the most efficient and cost-effective for any organization. Any supervisor would be thrilled to take advantage of the flexibility and cost effectiveness of virtualizing your production environments.

Certification offerings from VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and Red Hat will teach you how to virtualize your production environments. VMware recently dropped two new certifications on their VMware Certified Professional 7 track, the VMware Certified Professional 7 Cloud Management and Automation (VCP7-CMA) and the VMware Certified Professional 7 Desktop and Mobility (VCP7-DTM) to help you master their newest products.

Choosing which certification to pursue can be difficult but creating a guideline to which certifications will benefit you and your career will help you map out a track that will absolutely benefit you as a networking pro. One strategy is to start with the products you use at work. Let the products you're currently using determine where you begin, then let your own curiosity and excitement over virtualization technologies determine your next steps.

As virtualization and cloud computing continue to grow and become more and more intertwined in your environment, your knowledge of virtualization will not only make you invaluable to your company but also open doors for possible career pathways you never even knew about.

Virtualization is going to continue to grow with or without you, why not be a part of it?


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