Career in Cisco Unified Communications

Unanswered Question
May 12th, 2009

I am interested in learning Cisco VoIP but I know nothing about VoIP.

I am 27 years old and have been working in IT for the past five years. I got my CCIE-sec five years ago and is preparing for Juniper JNCIP. I have been working with various security products in the past five years, mainly Cisco, Juniper, F5 and Sonicwall. I am not doing too bad financially, getting about 150k/year as a full-time employee for a fortune 100 company.

I am at a point now where I am not sure I like doing security products for the next five years. I am interested in Cisco Unified Communications but I know nothing about it. I just finished building my first CUM business edition on VMware so I do have something to play with I guess.

Obviously if I go into the Unified Communications career path, I will be taking a big salary hit but I guess I do not mind if it is short term thing, may be < 12 months. I guess my eventual goal is to get certified in CCIE-V. I have a few questions for people who make career changes from one area into a new area of IT:

1- How long does it take for someone with no experience like myself to be good with Cisco VoIP? I intend to take some voice bootcamp from GlobalKnowledge

2- How long does it take to prepare and become a CCIE-V? It took me five months to prepapre and pass the CCIE-sec on the first attempt but that was five years ago. I was preparing for the lab for five straight months 12 hours every days, weekend included. Is CCIE-V lab exam much different than CCIE-sec?

3- How long would it take a person with CCIE-V to get to an expert level and make more than 150k/year as a full-time employee?

If it takes about 12 months to get back to my security salary level and working on Cisco VoIP technology, that is something I would be very interested in giving it a try.

Is that doable? Many thanks

I have this problem too.
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Jaime Valencia Tue, 05/12/2009 - 17:27

I can only speak for my own experience and some friends i know of.

VoIP and Unified Communications are a huge world so you really need to know a lot, about many products.

For a very basic deployment you would need CME, CUE and H323/SIP knowledge and all is in ISRs.

For medium to large you need to know CUCMBE for up to 500 users, for more than that. Full blown CUCM, a choice of VM -> Unity/Exchange (also voicemail only or UM) | Unity/Domino | CUC

Gateway protocols H323, MGCP or SIP.

And there are many more things you can add to a deployment, CUPS, MP, MPE, CUMA, UCCX, UCCE (those 2 last alone are a whole other world).

I really don't know someone who is an expert on each and every single product.

I would say that to get a really good idea of the basic products you will manage on a every-day basis (CUCM, CUCMBE, Unity, CUC, gateways) it would be around 2 months and really get hands-on experience, nothing can beat that.

I would dare to say the CCIE-V is the toughest CCIE there is. They really don't recommend someone without at least 18 months working on this to attempt it. Go take a look at the blueprint to get an idea of all you need to take on. I believe you can count with 1 hand the guys that got it on the 1st attempt. I know guys with 4 CCIEs and it took them at least 4-5 tries to pass the CCIE-V. My former tech leads at TAC (some of the brightest guys i know took 3 tries each before passing it, both with 4+ years of experience as well). It's extremely tricky and you really, really need to know how things work so i would say at least a year.

I'm going to take on it probably October/November but i'm studying for the 3.0 blueprint, i already had all the study for the previous one. I have over 3 years working every day with this and i still have much to learn (Specially when every single release has many changes like the ones coming in 7.1(2) ). Not to mention reading all the SRNDs and design guides to know all the best practices of deploying a system.

You really never stop learning in the UC world, it takes a lot of time and commitment because self-study is a huge part of this.

About the salary, someone else will have to answer that =) i'm not even in the States, I'm in MX so i don't know how much a CCIE-V could get in the US.

my 2 cents


Abdulbaseer Mohammed Mon, 10/26/2009 - 22:19


Good write and lot of value added info.

I have been in contact center call center space for last 15yrs. I am no CCIE but just UCX UCCE I have been helping clients and its a world in itself. I started back in Geotel days comparing and recomending Genesys, Avaya, Geotel, Rockwe etc.

Just UCX, and UCCE have many flavors and CTIOS, CAD, reporting, CTI integratin etc adds more colors.

I had clients pay any where from 50/hr to 300/hr. Lot of business is at stake and many many dollars saved. As an Advanced Solutions Architect I was paid 148k base at Avaya + other perks. I was making more when I was running my own company. Gives you an idea.

I don't just do Cisco but have been with Avaya, Genesys and few other voice tecnologies so its not always a straight path to that dollar you want to earn rather how you solve a customer case and be of help to their problems at hand.

Strategic consulting, long time vision, architecture, design, products and economies of scale all have their own part in manking you a successful voice resource.

Again thanks for your great post.



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