June 5, 2013

On Testing Certifications, Knowledge, and Competence

Test Management

What Do Testing Certifications Measure?

Testing certifications measure the knowledge and competence of testers. But not all testing certifications are created equal.

These certifications can be attained through organizations such as:

While testing certifications can be attained from many places, ISTQB certifications are the most prevalent.

Software Testing Certifications in Demand

Software testing certifications are in demand. For many, certifications are the gateway to a testing career. And additional certifications are often the key to long-term success in the testing field.

But Can Testing Certifications Measure Everything?

Measuring all of those skill sets in a single exam or set of exams — whether multiple choice, single correct answer, or even in essay format — seems impossible.

We are fortunate to work in a field where there are a lot of ways of contributing and adding value.

Some write code to build software. Or devise unit tests to verify how they think discrete parts of the code should work.

Others work closely with developers to understand the underlying structure and develop tests that reflect the requirements of the application and its underlying requirements.

Still more are domain experts. They fight for the user community. And they possess a keen understanding of what is needed — beyond requirements — to deliver a quality product that is genuinely useful to the business.

Finding a testing certification that can test all of these skills is practically impossible. Yet, a certification is still key to many testing roles. 

The ISTQB Controversy

There is an ongoing controversy around these certifications. In particular, with the world’s largest provider of certification services for testers, the ISTQB, and its U.S. arm, the ASTQB.

There's one primary concern with ISTQB certifications. And that's the use of a multiple choice test trivializes testing knowledge and judgment.

In addition, some see the tutorial offerings of supporters to be an unnecessary and unwanted commercial advantage in training for this specific certification. So, there are currently online petitions demanding that ISTQB release its own data on the validity of the certification.

These criticisms are true. But, ISTQB seems intent on measuring and improving its certifications. So, this testing certification may improve with time. 

Other Software Testing Problems...

Testing certifications are certainly a problem facing testers today. Learn about others in "4 Reasons Why Software Testers Struggle (And How to Fix Them)."

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