Corporate voice and telephony services have transformed from traditional public-switched telephone networks (PSTNs) and private branch exchanges (PBXs) to voice over IP (VoIP) and IP PBXs, often combined with digital fax, videoconferencing, instant messaging and mobile communications. That means VoIP and telephony certifications now focus on digital communications, along with a good mix of IP networking protocols and methods to support such traffic and to maintain service quality.
In this article, we feature five solid VoIP and telephony certifications from Avaya, Certification Partners, Cisco, Digium (Asterisk) and Microsoft. Unified communications cover a lot of voice and telephony ground, and it adds video and other solutions to the lineup as well.
Salary is a significant consideration when deciding whether to pursue a VoIP and telephony certification. SimplyHired lists $106,149 as the average salary for a VoIP engineer, although Glassdoor‘s average for a VoIP engineer is noticeably lower at $83,772. Still, a salary just under $85,000 is a worthwhile goal in the industry, with a good growth path into more senior positions readily attainable.
To help determine our top five VoIP and telephony certifications, we performed an informal job board survey. That data indicates the number of job posts in which our featured certifications were mentioned on one specific day. The data should give you an idea of the relative popularity of each certification. [Interested in Business Phone Systems? Check out our top picks.]
Job Board Search Results (in alphabetical order, by certification)
|CCNP: Collaboration (Cisco)||489||567||348||309||1,713|
|CTP (Certification Partners)||64||25||101||167||357|
|MCSE: Productivity (Microsoft)||252||294||136||137||819|
ACIS: Avaya Certified Implementation Specialist
Avaya is one of the leading solution providers of business communications and collaboration systems. As a spinoff of Lucent Technologies, itself an offspring of Bell Labs, Avaya’s roots are firmly planted in telephony. Certification solution tracks are currently offered in two concentrations: sales and sdesign, and services.
The Avaya Certified Implementation Specialist (ACIS) certification falls into the Services track and recognizes an individual’s ability to install, deploy, test and troubleshoot Avaya products at a beginning to intermediate skill level. Several credentials are available for the ACIS certification:
- Avaya IP Office Contact Center
- Avaya CallPilot
- Avaya Communication Server 1000 for Avaya Aura
- Avaya Aura Contact Center
- Avaya Aura Contact Center CCT and Multimedia
- Avaya Aura Call Center Elite – New
Candidates interested in the Sales and Design solution track should check out the Avaya Certified Design Specialist (ACDS), Avaya Professional Design Specialist (APDS) and the Avaya Professional Sales Specialist (APSS) certifications.
Note: Some Avaya credentials are available only to Avaya partners and associates, while others are open to all takers. See the Avaya Professional Credential Program Overview for details. Individuals not affiliated with a specific organization can create a “non-relationship” account on the Avaya Learning site to purchase a certification exam.
For most topics, Avaya recommends candidates have two years of experience in relevant technologies plus one more year implementing the core product. Each ACIS certification remains valid for two years.
ACIS facts and figures
|Certification Name||Avaya Certified Implementation Specialist (ACIS)|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||Training recommended. Candidates should check the certification page for individual solution track for details. Training costs vary by solution track, but candidates can expect to pay $1,400 to $3,500 per course. Some tracks recommend multiple courses.
Two years of experience in relevant technologies plus one year of experience in implementing the Avaya products recommended.
|Number of Exams||One or more exams per credential.
See the exam and training requirements for each credential. Visit the Credential Program web page, click the ACIS box twice in the Services Credentials category and then click on each ACIS credential listed on the right side of the page.
|Cost per Exam||Most exams are $125. Exams administered by Pearson VUE or online through the Avaya Learning Center.|
|URL||https://www.avaya-learning.com/lms/#/credentials/credential-program (Services Credentials category)|
|Self-Study Materials||Avaya Learning Partners offer training for each exam; costs range from $1,400 to $3,500 per course.|
CCNP Collaboration: Cisco Certified Network Professional Collaboration
Cisco remains one of the world’s dominant IP telephony players. Its Collaboration certifications are available at associate, professional and expert levels, where our top-five pick is the mid-level Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).
The Collaboration certification portfolio is geared toward network professionals and network engineers who work with voice and video, particularly Cisco Collaboration solutions. Targeted skills include configuring and implementing Cisco Collaboration solutions, planning and designing video network collaborations, and maintaining implemented solutions.
Candidates are required to pass four exams to earn the CCNP Collaboration credential. Training is optional but recommended. Candidates can expect to pay about $3,800 for live classroom or virtual courses.
Recertification is required every three years for CCNPs. To maintain this credential, holders must pass any current 642-XXX or 300-XXX professional-level exam, any CCIE written exam, any CCDE written or practical exam, or the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview and board review.
CCNP collaboration facts and figures
|Certification Name||Cisco Certified Network Professional Collaboration (CCNP Collaboration)|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||A valid CCNA Collaboration certification or any Cisco CCIE or CCDE certification. Training recommended but not required.|
|Number of Exams||Four exams:
300-070: Implementing Cisco IP Telephony & Video, Part 1 (CIPTV1)
300-075: Implementing Cisco IP Telephony & Video, Part 2 (CIPTV2)
300-080: Troubleshooting Cisco IP Telephony & Video (CTCOLLAB)
300-085: Implementing Cisco Collaboration Application v1.0 (CAPPS)
Each exam: 75 minutes in length, 50-75 questions
|Cost per Exam||$300 per exam, $1,200 total. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.|
|Self-Study Materials||Cisco maintains links to the course syllabus, study groups, exam prep materials, practice exams and more on the Cisco Learning Network Collaboration (CCNP) web page. Exam pages also contain links to instructor-led training and e-learning opportunities. Numerous collaboration publications are available through Cisco Press.|
CTP: Certification Partners Convergence Technologies Professional
The vendor-neutral CTP certification was developed by Certification Partners and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). It’s also endorsed by industry leaders such as Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, Toshiba and Vertical. Many of these leaders either accept the CTP as a stepping stone or prerequisite to their credential programs or recommend the CTP for training and preparation. Certification Partners maintains a complete list of endorsements from telecommunication leaders.
The CTP requires the successful completion of one exam that focuses on methods, concepts and best practices in the following areas:
- Data and internet protocol (IP) networking for convergent networks
- Voice and telephony services, functions, and technologies
- Convergence technologies
Certification Partners also offers the Convergent Network Technologies (CCNT) certification, which aims at professionals who sell and support convergence services, as well as the CIW certifications in networking and security, web technologies and design and development. Candidates interested in working in the field of convergence who do not yet possess the requisite experience are advised to first obtain the CCNT credential and then gain the required experience.
Certification Partners does not require recertification to maintain the CTP.
CTP facts and figures
|Certification Name||Convergence Technologies Professional (CTP)|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||CCNT recommended or a minimum of 18 to 24 months of experience in all three knowledge domain areas: Data and Internet Protocol Networking for Convergent Networks; Voice and Telephony Services, Functions and Technologies; and Convergence Technologies.
Training strongly recommended.
|Number of Exams||One exam: TT0-201 (administered through CTC Online), 65 questions, 90 minutes, 75 percent required to pass.|
|Cost per Exam||$225|
|Self-Study Materials||CTP training is recommended; five-day instructor-led training, $3,395 (includes study guides and exam voucher). CTP training products are available from the CTP store (student courseware $199).|
dCAP: Digium Certified Asterisk Professional
Since its humble beginnings as an open source project in 1999, Asterisk has grown exponentially and become a well-recognized and respected framework for communication and conference servers, VoIP gateways and IP PBX systems. Asterisk can be found in more than 170 countries, powering more than 2 million servers worldwide. Per Digium (which maintains Asterisk in conjunction with the Asterisk community), Asterisk runs in most of the Fortune 1000 companies.
With such widespread popularity, it’s only natural that professionals with Asterisk skills are in demand. To meet industry needs, Digium offers several training courses (Asterisk Essentials, Fast Start and Advanced), as well as the Digium Certified Asterisk Professional (dCAP) and Digium Certified Asterisk Administrator (dCAA) certifications.
The dCAP targets experienced Asterisk professionals. Candidates are expected to possess real-world experience (typically a minimum of three to 24 months), in-depth knowledge of Linux (basic administration, manipulating files and modifying configuration files) and Asterisk experience (installation, Asterisk dial plan format and syntax, use of basic CLI commands and registration of VoIP devices). Other recommended skills include basic programming and scripting languages (Perl, Bash, C and/or C++, for example) and an understanding of VoIP protocols.
Candidates must pass a two-part exam, which consists of a written exam and a practical lab exam (in which you configure a PBX), to earn the credential. While there are no prerequisites, the Asterisk Advanced training course is highly recommended before attempting the exam.
Although the Digium website doesn’t specify recertification requirements, dCAP certification is granted for a “specific released, stable version of Asterisk.”
dCAP Facts and Figures
|Certification Name||Digium Certified Asterisk Professional (dCAP)|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||None required. Asterisk Advanced training course highly recommended, along with 3 to 24 months of real-world experience, working knowledge of setting up and maintaining an Asterisk server, and familiarity with Asterisk sample configuration files. (Training costs approximately $2,650.)|
|Number of Exams||Two exams (115-question written exam, plus a practical lab exam).|
|Cost per Exam||$510. Prices may vary by geography.|
|Self-Study Materials||Training courses available. Recommended reading: Asterisk: The Definitive Guide, 4th edition, by Russell Bryant, Leif Madsen and Jim Van Meggelen. O’Reilly Media: May 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1-4493-3242-6 ($46.99 for eBook, $54.99 for print version).|
MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert): Productivity
Microsoft rolled out several new MCSE certifications in 2016, including the MCSE: Productivity. Although this certification is geared toward enterprise-grade hybrid and cloud solutions for Microsoft Office, it allows candidates to specialize in any of several Microsoft technologies, including Skype for Business.
To obtain the MCSE: Productivity credential, candidates must first obtain the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Office 365, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA Windows Server 2016 certification. Then, they must pass an elective exam from an approved list. Currently, there are eight different exams to choose from. In addition, Microsoft recommends at least three years of experience.
The MCSE: Productivity credential doesn’t expire. However, credential holders are encouraged to re-earn the certification each year by passing another elective exam. Doing so indicates your desire to stay current on technologies and broaden your skillset, and you’ll post another entry to your certification transcript.
MSCE Productivity facts and figures
|Certification Name||MCSE: Productivity|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA Windows Server 2016 certification.
Three or more years of experience recommended
|Number of Exams||Candidates must pass one of the following exams:
Exam 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
Exam 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
Exam 70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015
Exam 70-334: Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
Exam 70-331: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
Exam 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
Exam 70-341: Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
Exam 70-342: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
|Cost per Exam||$165 per exam. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.|
|Self-Study Materials||Microsoft Learning provides links to training, practice exams by third-party vendors (including MeasureUp), case studies, exam study groups and more. Links to community support forums and other resources are listed on each exam web page. Microsoft also offers various training options through its Microsoft Official Courses On-Demand (MOC On-Demand) program.|
Beyond the top five: More VoIP and telephony certifications
The SIP School, a part of Vocale Ltd. in the U.K., offers a range of affordable, vendor-neutral VoIP and SIP certifications, including the SIP School VVoIP Professional (SSVVP). The SSVVP was on our top five list for the last few years but was replaced by the MCSE: Productivity in 2018, owing mainly to interest from employers.
The ZyXEL Certified Network Professional – VoIP (ZCNP VoIP) is another good certification, which is vendor-specific and therefore geared toward networking professionals who support ZyXEL products.
3CX offers a certification program for professionals who deploy, manage and support 3CX IP PBX systems. The 3CX credentials are offered in three tiers: basic, intermediate and advanced.
Lots of community colleges and universities offer network VoIP and telephony courses or certificate programs as well, such as Florida Community College, College of DuPage and Riverland Community College.