VMware Certified Associate certifications are the new level (the entry level) of VMware certifications path. It is similar as other associate level from different vendor and does not have mandatory courses (but the company does provide self-paced free eLearning courses for each to help potential associates to prepare for the certification exam), but also it’s not mandatory (actually) for next level (VCP), so it’s mainly for people that want a certification but probably does not have an plan to approach (in short time) other level.