CompTIA launched its new Convergence+ certification at the beginning of April, but it’s using Interop Las Vegas 2007 this week to make the pitch for this new program to IT professionals and vendors. There’s not a whole lot of convincing to do for the Interop crowd — at least not for the need for skilled professionals who can manage converged voice and data networks — because VoIP and collaboration are among the hottest topics that almost every vendor seems to be talking about from one angle or another.

“CompTIA Convergence+ addresses the industry’s need for technology professionals capable of helping customers maximize the benefits and opportunities made possible by the delivery of data, voice and multimedia over the same converged network,” said CompTIA CEO John Venator.

Merging data and voice networks has consistently been a top priority of IT departments for the past two years, according to surveys of TechRepublic users since mid-2005. Because integrating VoIP and IP telephony demands deeper expertise than standard networking, this certification can help an IT pro get the baseline knowledge to understand VoIP integration, plus a little icon to put on a resume to prove it.

“Our product aims at the foundational knowledge required to effectively manage a converged network,” said Neill Hopkins, CompTIA’s vice president of skills development. “The demand is for technicians that understand these networks and can expand their knowledge [to include convergence].”

It’s important to realize that this isn’t an entry level certification like A+ or Network+. It is aimed at IT pros that have 1-2 years of networking experience. In fact, CompTIA recommends that candidates who want to pursue the Convergence+ certification already have the Network+ (or equivalent knowledge). Once you have Convergence+, it can become a gateway to a vendor-based VoIP certification from vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, or Nortel, for those who are interested in becoming a VoIP and convergence specialist.

Similar to other CompTIA exams, to earn the Convergence+ a candidate has to pass a 90-minute, 90-question exam with a score of 720 or better. The official exam number is CT0-101 and you can register through Pearson Vue or Thomson Prometric. The exam costs $225.00.