Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a digital network system that allows people to make telephone calls over broadband Internet connections rather than analog land lines. A VoIP engineer designs, tests, installs, and maintains both local VoIP systems at businesses and large networks that span entire regions. Engineers rely on their expert knowledge of computer science, digital audio hardware, and VoIP software to implement the latest technologies. They also work with information technology (IT) professionals and system administrators to explain how to run systems as efficiently as possible.
Most VoIP engineers are employed by telecommunications companies that provide services to businesses and residences within a particular region. They design schematics for new hardware, such as analog-to-digital adapters and standalone VoIP telephones. Professionals also create software applications that allow users to easily make calls directly from their computers.
Experienced VoIP engineers set up programs that encode speech and audible noises into digital signals called codecs. They tweak programs to make sure codecs can be sent quickly and correctly across a network and decoded back into audible signals by the receiver's phone. Understanding the properties of codecs and digital transmission requires extensive research and training. Since technologies continue to change on a regular basis, it is important for engineers to read industry journals and pursue continuing education in order to stay up-to-date on innovations and trends.
A large corporation may hire a full-time VoIP engineer to manage its local area network. A VoIP engineer at a private business typically spends more time performing maintenance and troubleshooting systems than workers at telecommunications companies. He or she sets up wireless local area networks, checks Ethernet cables and ports, and tests connection speeds. When an IT worker is confronted with a difficult issue related to the company's VoIP system, the engineer can diagnose and fix the problem.
There are no set education requirements to become a VoIP engineer, though a bachelor's degree or higher in a related subject can greatly improve a person's chances of entering the field. In fact, a degree in computer science, network engineering, electrical engineering, or programming is required by many large telecommunications companies. A prospective VoIP engineer can also take voluntary certification exams offered by private organizations to improve his credentials and his chances of finding work. New engineers typically spend several years in junior or assistant positions to gain experience and master their skills. Successful workers may be able to become senior engineers, supervisors, or outside consultants in time.