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Why you need to learn VoIP for your Cisco certification

Because of the increasing importance of VoIP and Cisco's growing emphasis on it, the networking giant has increased the significance of VoIP in its certification exams. In this tip, David Davis looks at the VoIP focus in popular Cisco certifications, compares the old and updated topics covered in the popular CCNP exam and points you to resources where you can learn more.

Voice over IP (VoIP) is becoming more and more common in homes and companies. IDC estimates that the number of IP telephones activated will triple between 2006 and 2010. Because of the increasing importance of VoIP and Cisco's growing emphasis on it, the networking giant has increased the significance of VoIP in its certification exams. Let's review the emphasis on VoIP in popular Cisco certifications.

Cisco offers five different certification tracks, each with its own level of expertise. Specifically, I want to talk about two of these tracks: Routing & Switching, and Voice.

Routing & Switching

You might not expect to see any VoIP topics when taking Cisco certifications that revolve around routing and switching, but there have recently been some changes in that area.

  • CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
    You can still get a CCNA without having to know anything more than, perhaps, what VoIP is. The CCNA serves as the entry level (dubbed "associate level") certification required before taking the professional (intermediate) level and expert level certifications.

  • CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
    The CCNP is Cisco's intermediate routing and switching certification. Cisco has recently increased the emphasis on VoIP in this exam (see Cisco gives VoIP certification a boost). For more information on specific changes, see below.

  • CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) Routing & Switching
    Recently, Cisco has increased the amount of VoIP knowledge needed to pass the CCIE R&S written exam.


Just like other Cisco certification tracks, there are three levels of expertise in Cisco's voice specialization certifications, starting with the CCNA as the associate (entry level) certification. The professional and expert level certifications are:

  • CCVP (Cisco Certified Voice Professional)
    The CCVP is the equivalent of the CCNP but with a voice certification. The CCVP is completely focused on intermediate level VoIP topics and configurations.

  • CCIE Voice
    Cisco has recently updated the CCIE written exam blueprint to make it more real-world and more current (see this Cisco article).

CCNP test changes

The CCNP is the most popular intermediate-level Cisco certification, so let's spend some time learning what you need to know to prepare yourself for the updated CCNP certification test.

The CCNP requires that you pass five tests. In the table below, you can see the old and the new exams required to achieve your CCNP:


642-821 BCRAN
Building Cisco Remote Access Networks
642-825 ISCW
Implementing Secure Converged WANS
642-831 CIT
Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting
642-845 ONT
Optimized Converged Cisco Networks
642-801 BSCI
Building Scaleable Cisco Internetworks
642-901 BSCI
642-811 BCMSN
Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
642-812 BCMSN

Of greatest importance is that all five test numbers have changed. When test numbers change, test content changes. This means that all test preparation material needs to be updated. Make sure you are prepared for these exams by ensuring that you have the latest test prep material for the newly updated CCNP exams.

CCNP VoIP content

I want to go into detail on which of these exams contain VoIP content and what you need to know about it.

Of the five tests, two specifically mention VoIP. They are 642-845, "Optimized Converged Cisco Networks," and 642-812, "Building Converged Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks." If you'll notice, the titles of these exams have one thing in common: the word "converged."

Converged networks are where all traffic (voice and data) rides a common network backbone. In other words, converged networks are VoIP networks. Also, it is interesting that there is an entire CCNP test covering network optimization.

In the 642-845 exam, you will be asked to "describe Cisco VoIP implementations." Specifically, you need to be able to do the following (according to Cisco):

  • Describe the functions and operations of a VoIP network (packetization, bandwidth considerations, CAC, etc.).
  • Describe and identify basic voice components in an enterprise network (Gatekeepers, Gateways, etc.)

In the 642-812 exam, you will be asked to "Configure support for voice." Specifically, you will be asked to do the following (according to Cisco):

  • Describe the characteristics of voice in the campus network.
  • Describe the functions of Voice VLANs and trust boundaries.
  • Configure and verify basic IP phone support (i.e., Voice VLAN, trust and QoS options, AutoQoS for voice).

For Cisco VoIP certification books and resources, see CCVP Resources from Cisco Press.

About the author:
David Davis (CCIE #9369, CWNA, MCSE, CISSP, Linux+, CEH) has been in the IT industry for 15 years. Currently, he manages a group of systems/network administrators for a privately owned retail company and authors IT-related material in his spare time. He has written more than 50 articles, eight practice tests and three video courses, and has co-authored one book. His Web site is

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