With so many Voice over IP certifications out there, it can be confusing to decide which one to take. Which will lead to the most lucrative career options? Should you go for a vendor-specific exam like Cisco’s CCNA program or Norton’s NCTS, or should you take on a more generalized certification like the CTP vendor-neutral certification? The decision is tricky, because exams tend to require both study time and money, and you don’t want to waste either. You’re a qualified professional, you just want to take get the certification that companies respect the most.
Initially, the vendor-neutral certification might seem like the best option. It proves that you are fluent in multiple network protocols, and you can use it to argue that no matter what changes or communications need to happen over different networks, you’ll be able to handle it. This would be the case if the VoIP network market were filled with many varied vendors, and versatility was in higher demand than depth of understanding a specific type of network. However, that is not the case.
Cisco, for better or worse, holds the lion’s share of the VoIP-related product market. Over half of all Voice over IP related job openings specifically ask for CCNA training, compared with just 8% who want Norton’s NCTS or even fewer who are looking for a CTP certificate holder. The fact is that people whose networks are provided by Cisco want a Cisco-trained professional, same with Norton or any other vendor. One can assume that over half of all businesses use a Cisco network.
The Cisco VoIP certification runs along a track beginning with CCNA training. After you get your CCNA certificate, you can try for a CCNA Voice certificate. This establishes your fluency with Cisco IOS Unified Communications, as well as all Cisco voice-related technologies, including IP telephony, IP PBX, call control, handset, and voicemail. Once you’re a CCNA Voice-trained professional, you can get your CCVP, or Cisco Certified Voice Professional, and then go on to get your CCIE Voice. This last certificate establishes yourself as a true expert in the field, as fewer than 1000 people in the world have attained it. Cisco’s well-delineated “level” system provides opportunities for career advancement, ensuring that as a network administrator, you won’t devote yourself to one vendor’s system and be stuck in the same type of position for the rest of your life. You can take the subsequent Cisco exams and upgrade your career each time.
With VoIP technologies becoming more and more prevalent in the business world, due to their inexpensiveness and effectiveness at transmitting information, having a good VoIP certification will open many doors for you. Businesses will either require their network professional to know his or her way around a Voice over IP network, or, if the business is big enough, offer job openings exclusively to manage the VoIP protocols, maintenance, and administration. Half of these businesses are likely to use Cisco networks. With a CCNA Voice certification, or even better, the CCVP certificate, you will be immediately eligible for those jobs.