VoIP Companies Need Experienced Engineers

The shift to IP-based networks and technology will spur innovation and create a demand for innovative individuals.

By Chandler Harris | May 2008

As telecommunications companies continue to role out fiber lines and expand the already burgeoning broadband market, the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies and applications is expected to continue growing at breakneck speed.

In the next four years, residential VoIP use should grow at a compound annual rate of 20 percent, according to the Telecom Industry Association’s 2008 Market Review and Forecast. And with many analysts calling VoIP and IP technologies the new communications paradigm, the industry could be the top sector for job growth in the U.S. over the next five years. Business information firm IBISWorld projects annualized job growth in the sector of 19.4 percent through 2012.

“We see VoIP in an emerging phase of development, and that’s why employment is expected to grow and the number of companies carving out a niche is going up,” says George VanHorn, an IBISWorld senior analyst. “This is in contrast to the environment of legacy communications companies, whose employment counts are going down and revenue counts are going down (because of) a shifting of revenues, employment, and resources to VoIP.”

In addition to creating a new market, the shift from legacy-based communications systems to IP-based networks and technology will spur innovation and create a demand for innovative individuals, analysts say.

“There are going to be more and more new services, more new applications, and increasing dependency on IP networks across the globe, because of VoIP,¿ says Andy Abramson, who runs the blog VoIP Watch. “A lot of companies who have been building staff just to get by are now increasing their staff.”

Abramson predicts the VoIP market will especially need workers involved in IT support, program engineering, platform management and customer support. For SightSpeed, a VoIP company that primarily focuses on IP-based video conferencing, engineers and developers with multiple platform support skills are needed. The company primarily wants Web developers with more than five years experience, and who can work with HTML, Javascript, PHP, C C++, Unix, and Linux. Core application developers who can develop on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, with five to ten years experience, are also needed.

“The type of engineer we hire is a jack of all trades who can work on protocols, who can develop on multiple platforms ¿ and build user interfaces,” explains Aron Rosenberg, the company’s founder and chief technology officer.

A background in networking and a knowledge of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which is used for establishing sessions in an IP network, will greatly improve a candidate’s chances of finding a job in the area, Rosenberg says.

SightSpeed is “chronically understaffed,” he adds, challenged to find enough engineers as the company grows dramatically even as jobs at bigger technology companies like Google and Yahoo! lure talent.

Business Builders Needed

Since VoIP is an emerging market, another of growth Abramson sees is consulting and sales. In that, he includes carrier sales, enterprise sales and partner sales. Also needed are salespeople who have experience selling consumer-related items, especially phone and video products. Finally, Abramson foresees a heavy demand for installers who can implement VoIP networks and technologies.

And, because the market is still in its infancy, new companies will spend money on the research and development of new products and technologies, says William A. Stofega, VoIP services research manager for researcher IDC. New types of VoIP-oriented applications and services will be created by software developers and innovative design engineers responding to the new application environment.

“Any way you look at it, IP communications and VoIP are the way things are going,” says Stofega. “It’s no longer debated, it’s happening.”

Chandler Harris is a business writer based in California.