Primary VoIP certifications
Avaya Certified Associate Design, Implement and Voice Services tracks: IP telephony and more (including voice services management)
This collection of programs includes significant vendor-neutral introductory to intermediate content on VoIP, IP telephony, voice services, IP Office and other related tools and technologies. The program includes both vendor-specific and vendor-neutral components.
Avaya Certified Expert Implement Design and Implement tracks: IP telephony and more (include voice services management)
This program includes advanced coverage of Avaya and third-party products and services related to IP Office systems, including Compact Contact Center, multimedia modules, Microsoft CRM, and interworking with Cisco or other third-party solutions. The program includes both vendor-specific and vendor-neutral components.
CCNT (Certified in Convergent Network Technologies)
This Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) credential covers telecommunications, data communications and networking technologies, all in the context of voice communications. A significant module in this exam is devoted to VoIP topics. Coverage is introductory to intermediate in nature, but this is a widely recognized and useful industry certification for VoIP professionals. This program is vendor-neutral by design.
CTP (Convergence Technologies Professional)
This TIA-sponsored credential aims at enterprise IT professionals who support voice and data applications, as well as those who sell to and develop for this specific user base. Coverage is introductory to intermediate in nature, but somewhat less comprehensive and deep than the CCNT certification. This program is vendor-neutral by design.
An emerging CompTIA certification (the initial exam offering went beta in October 2006), this credential aims to identify individuals who possess basic VoIP knowledge and skills. As with most CompTIA certifications, it is meant to establish a standard benchmark for entry-level VoIP, data communications, video and broadcast multimedia technologies skills and knowledge. It is specifically vendor-neutral in design and coverage.
RCDD (Registered Communications Distribution Designer)
This high-level professional certification from BiCSi demonstrates advanced knowledge and skills in the design, implementation and integration of information transport systems and related infrastructure, including IP telephony and VoIP services. This is a highly sought-after, advanced professional credential for those involved in the design and delivery of convergent networks, especially for those who work at the intersection of voice and data communications. It is specifically vendor-neutral in design and coverage.
CCVP (Cisco Certified Voice Professional)
This is Cisco's professional-level voice-oriented certification that includes significant VoIP and IP telephony content at its core and as a primary motivation. This program includes primarily intermediate- to advanced-level material and is vendor-specific in its product coverage, but it also includes a large amount of standards- and industry-oriented vendor-neutral content.
CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) Voice
This is Cisco's highly coveted capstone senior professional certification, aimed at high-level voice tools and technologies. Tested tools and platforms include Cisco Unity and Unity Express, Cisco Call Manager, Customer Response Server and IP Contact Center Express. This program is vendor-specific in its product coverage but includes a large amount of standards- and industry-oriented vendor-neutral content as well.
Cisco IP Communications Express Specialist
This seeks to identify individuals who possess basic VoIP technology skills needed to install and maintain multi-service network solutions. This credential puts special emphasis on the Cisco Call Manager Express (CCME) and Cisco Unity Express (CUE) solutions, and provides a basic grounding in VoIP tools and technologies.
Cisco IP Contact Center Express Specialist
This credential focuses on validating a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge needed to plan, design, implement and operate a contact center built around the Cisco Unified Contact Center Express solutions.
Cisco IP Telephony Design Specialist
This aims to identify individuals who can design IP telephony multi-service network solutions around Cisco platforms and technologies. This is an intermediate to advanced vendor-specific program by design, but it also includes vendor-neutral content.
Cisco Unity Support Specialist
This program specifically targets the Cisco Unity product platform, which integrates voice services with the Microsoft Exchange platform, and focuses on those who support users in this environment. This is an intermediate to advanced vendor-specific program by design, but it also includes vendor-neutral content.
Nortel Certified Design Specialist (NCDE) – various*
Cover numerous Nortel platforms and products with substantial involvement of converged networking and VoIP tools and technologies as they apply to the company's CallPilto, Communications Server 1000, Carrier VoIP Solution, and Contact center platforms.
(* multiple certifications appear under the NCSE heading on the web page linked above)
Nortel Certified Support Expert (NCSE) -- Unified Messaging & Communication Server*
Covers multiple Nortel platforms with substantial involvement of converged networking and VoIP tools and technologies as they apply to the company's CallPilot and Communications Server 1000 platforms. (* multiple certifications appear under the NCSE heading on the Web page linked above)
Nortel Certified Support Specialist (NCSS) – various*
Covers multiple Nortel platforms with substantial involvement of converged networking and VoIP tools and technologies as they apply to the company's CallPilot, Communicatons Server 1000, Carrier VoIP Communication Server 2000, Contact Center Manager and VoIP Multimedia Communication Server platforms.
(* multiple certifications appear under the NCSS heading on the Web page linked above)
Nortel Certified Technology Expert (NCTE) -- Converged IP Networks
This credential affirms an individual's ability to plan, design, and deploy VoIP and multimedia applications on a converged network. This is an intermediate to advanced technical certification designed as a vendor-specific credential, with a primary emphasis on Nortel platforms and technologies, but it also includes substantial vendor-neutral content and coverage.
Nortel Certified Technology Specialist (NCTS) – Coverged IP Telephony Solutions
Designed to validate an individual's understanding of the protocols and standards associated with planning, designing and deploying converged IP solutions, including VoIP network architecture, packet telephony, voice quality, traffic convergence, VoIP standards and signaling protocols and assessing data networks for VoIP suitability.
Academic certificate programs in VoIP
Illinois Institute of Technology VoIP Certificate Program
This academic certificate program requires candidates to take concepts and fundamentals classes, as well as related implementation and software development topics. The program is vendor-neutral in design, with introductory to intermediate topical coverage, but it also includes exposure to leading vendor platforms and tools (especially Microsoft and Cisco).
Madison Area Technical College IT-VoIP/Convergence
A program designed to prepare IS/IT professionals to work with VoIP tools and technologies and converged networks. Topics covered include VoIP analysis, design, implementation and operation, with courses on VoIP Convergence Fundamentals, Intermediate VoIP/Convergence, and advanced topics in VoIP convergence.
Collin College Convergence Technology
Two-year AAS degree program with courses in computer networking and maintenance, networking, routers and router basics, switching and routing, WAN technologies, server handling, VoIP protocols and technologies, Windows and Linux operating systems and more. Several very interesting and well-architected programs are available under this umbrella.
Secondary VoIP/voice certifications
CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
A leading introductory to intermediate networking-fundamentals credential, the CCNA now includes coverage of VoIP and IP telephony topics, primarily because these are becoming so common on most networks nowadays (and also because the CCNA is a prerequisite for the CCVP certification). This material is vendor-specific by design, but it includes substantial standards- and vendor-neutral content as well.
Cisco Rich Media Communications Specialist
Validates an individual's ability to design, implement, and support integrated voice, video and web collaboration in a converged network environment. The two exams for this credential show the split in focus between voice and media: 642-481 Implementing Cisco IP Video Rich Media Communications, and 642-432 Cisco Voice over IP and Cisco Voice over IP fundamentals.
There is a lot to choose from among these various offerings, where vendor allegiances will usually dictate one's choice (or choices) within the vendor-specific space. Those interested in establishing basic competence in VoIP should definitely consider the TIA credentials (CTP and CCNT) and keep an eye on the CompTIA Convergence+ credential. As it was the last time we covered this ground, it remains too early to tell whether CompTIA will succeed in putting itself on the short list of "good VoIP introductory certs." Though it succeeded admirably with A+ and Network+, its track record in other areas has been somewhat less stellar.
About the author:
Ed Tittel is a freelance writer and trainer based in Austin, Texas, who's been writing and teaching about networking topics since the late 1980s. A regular contributor to numerous TechTarget.com web sites, Ed also writes for Certification Magazine, DigitalLanding.com, and Tomshardware.com.