Are software Testing Certifications worth it?

(james) #62

yes, it will help in the industry as per my view.

(Chris) #63

I think that the concept of certifications doesn’t work. I don’t know about the content of the courses except the ones I’ve done, and I can say that the following courses were helpful to me:

  • Rapid Software Testing - James Bach (best course I’ve done by far)
  • Mobile Testing - Stephen Janaway
  • Security Testing - Bill Matthews & Dan Billing

I don’t have certifications in any of these things. I have a certificate of attendance for RST that says I was there, but so would anyone who paid and turned up. It doesn’t say I passed anything or achieved anything beyond proof that I showed up. As it turns out I got a lot from it and use things from it every day, but the paper doesn’t say that, my achievements do.

A vaguely intelligent person hiring anyone knows the difference between a record that says someone can do something and them actually being able to do it. If you can find someone who doesn’t know the difference then you can use your certificates to get hired! But then you’re working for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and you’re going to feel that pain sooner or later. Unless the person being hired doesn’t care about doing good work and the person hiring wouldn’t know what good work might be, in which case yeah, do whatever, the whole thing’s a circus that makes money and keeps widget crankers employed and churns out something of no known quality with no regard for its users no matter what the clowns inside are doing.

(Olaf) #64

I think the question we should be asking is not so much “are the certifications worth it?”, as “do the qualifications relate to the real-life knowledge that they are trying to validate?”. We seem to have established that the certifications merely establish that someone has attended a class and has answered a series of questions on the subject, not that they actually know what they’re doing!

(Jesper) #65

Here’s an excellent writeup:

(Paul) #66

Regarding the ISTQB foundation, I didn’t think much of it. Out of date, far too easy and largely irrelevant for modern testing practice. A bit of a scam tbh. I did do the ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst exam however and found that an order of magnitude harder, with much better and more fulfilling content. I think that’s how the ISTQB roll. An easy foundation cash cow and much harder, more informative and respected advanced and expert qualifications.

(Matthew Swayne) #67

Here is the deal with certifications: I am a business analyst and worked in a number of different capacities including directly on a development team supporting software in a lead analyst (and testing) capacity for many years. I have the following certifications: A+, Network+, Project+, PMP, PSM1, CSPO, and I am taking the CSM exam in a few days. I recently received an email at work about the testing certification which my company would pay for and I will probably pursue. I am currently working as a government contractor and my current employer paid for the PSM1, CSPO, and CSM training and exams. So here is the deal: I ALWAYS forget much of what I learn from these certifications after the test. They do not make you a better quality / skilled person on the testing topic. They do mean that you took your own time and effort to take a class, studied for a test, and passed it. Does it provide me with confidence that I know (or have been exposed to) a topic? To some degree…yes. It mostly shows effort and that you try to keep up with the latest trends and that you are engaged and you take your profession seriously. Many recruiters LOVE to see these certs and some require them for the job. As a government contractor, some projects require certification in various disciplines. You could get selected for a project because they needed someone with the PMP cert (as an example). And here is where I recommend certifications: I was laid off in 2011 but I studied for the PMP around that time. That certification got my foot in the door on many interviews because it is a difficult certification to obtain. In my current job, my employer places a lot of value on certifications because it makes me marketable to the various government agencies. My current employer acknowledges achievements, posts names on walls when people get certifications, people put certification badges on their cubicle walls, blah, blah, blah. All things being equal, I have the edge over a coworker who is not certified because I ‘look’ shiny on paper. Also, sometimes government contractors get laid off and my goal is to keep my job. And if I do get laid off, the certifications that my current employer paid for will stay on my resume. Certifications open doors and keep some doors open just like college degrees. So that’s my 2 cents for what it is worth.

(Matthew Swayne) #68

I wanted to add a few other thoughts for people who are earlier in their careers. If you are interested in a testing job, I do recommend one of these foundation certifications that do not require training since training costs money and you many not be able to afford training. Per my last post, certifications can open doors but there is no guarantee. The Mobile Testing certification may be of interest because a lot of company’s have been rolling out applications for smart phones. I’d also recommend the Professional Scrum Master (PSM1) which does not require training and it is relatively inexpensive (about $150). The current trend in software development is Agile. Agile teams can have software developers, user experience experts, testers, and business analysts. A testing certification combined with the PSM1 would show a potential employer that you understand testing processes and terminology in addition to how that fits on an Agile team and the organization as a whole. For those interested in traditional project management (non-Agile), you could also consider the CompTIA Project + certification which exposes you to the life cycle of a software development project where they do not use Agile. Project + does not require training and is not too expensive. Finally, as you gain experience, you could be considered for a business analyst role in the future or perhaps the Scrum Master role.

(Olaf) #69

So, would the majority of people then agree that certifications are probably a good thing for really junior testers who are still breaking into the profession, but less and less useful the longer you’ve been working (and have a lot of successes on your CV), except where it relates to a new subject (e.g. your past work has been all in Waterfall and you now want to break into Agile)?

(Alistair) #70

If someone like me, starting out, does want to do the ISTQB Foundation course, what price should I reasonably expect to pay? I’ve seen prices from £15 - £800, a huge range!

(Chris) #71

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t. Then again I haven’t been junior for a very long time, maybe the industry has changed to the point where not having an expensive and valueless sheet of paper means not getting any job. I’ve never had one and I’ve never needed one and I’ve turned down work where it’s a requirement, but that’s because of my situation and my own needs - I’d rather work for a good company for less money, and I’ve always been stable enough to turn down work. I’d say that they are a bad thing for new testers, but perhaps, unfortunately, currently necessary.

(Adam) #72

Depends on whether you want to do a full course or go for self-study and just pay for the exam. I went down the latter route a few years back, the test was about £200 IIRC . This was mainly because I was trying to get out of the job I was in and a lot of the jobs that were around mentioned it as a desirable. As an aside, I found it odd that quite a few jobs advertised as tester roles I looked at had Comp Sci degree or equivalent as a must-have, but specific testing qualifications desirable. I did once respond to an agency who’d contacted me by saying that the job spec they’d sent through seemed to be written for recruiting a junior developer, not a tester…

(Alistair) #74

Thanks for your reply.

I’d like to do self study to keep costs down as it’s me paying for it. I don’t have a Comp Sci degree or an IT background as such. I’m hoping if I do this Qual and if I perhaps volunteer my services somewhere, I’ll be able to get a junior/entry level job eventually.

(Adam) #75

I did my test electronically using Pearson’s version; the BCS website lists test providers but I can’t remember off the top of my head whether you can search for a local test centre there or whether you need to go to the provider’s website. I also bought the standard textbook from the BCS, but there are other alternatives out there. If you do decide to pay for your own ISTQB then make sure you stress that you’ve done this when applying for jobs, it shows willingness to learn and take the initiative to further your own career. Good luck!

(Alistair) #76

That’s a great point. Yeah, I think I’ll try and do the Pearson version; think I can do it in Brighton, not too far from home.

Thanks again for your comments!

(Paul) #77

I may be in an audience of one with this opinion but I think that as we move even more towards automation and CI/devops and rely on greater tech skills employers will move towards recruiting those with tech-specific certs and/or CS/SE degrees. The ISTQB, especially the foundation cert, will become irrelevant.

(Katarina Neff) #78

In Estonia for participation in some local IT projects the ISTQB foundation level is required, especially if customers are public enterprises.

(Albert) #79

"Khoisan’ - I’m impressed!

(Vishal Dutt) #80

Software testing certification is really very worthy if you want to get job in QA. Because, if you are a fresher and wants to start career in Software Testing then certification adds value to your profile and the chances of getting jobs also get increased on rapid rate in software testing companies.

There are many benefits in functional testing service companies if you are certified in software testing:-

The value will increase in recognition and job opportunities.
It will enhance your skill set and boost up your technical knowledge.
If you are going for an job interview, then interviewer might ask questions related to certification.
If you are working in any MNC in India, then you might get refund for exam fees after completing certification.
If any candidate is fresher and does not have IT background then earning a foundation, expert or advanced level certification is a cost-effective way of proving that you are knowledgeable in this field.
If you working in any project based companies and there are some projects in which clients may asks for only certified professionals. So in that case, you could be considered for that opportunity.

Certification is very much important if you want to have a holistic growth in leading software testing company as well as in your professional life. There are so many certifications in the testing field based on the experience level of the candidate:

Cast (Certified Associate In Software Testing)
ISTQB (Foundation Level, Advanced level and Expert Level)
CSTE (Certified Software Test Engineer)

Hope this information is helpful for you.

(Magdy Hanna) #81

I think we all can agree that the value of any certification in any field is determined by how the certification improves your skills and gives you good methods and techniques that you can use in your project and that help perform better in your job. Simply stated, if a certification does not help you become a better professional, then it is not worth the paper it is written on. AS it is obvious from this discussion, some certification programs really created a bad reputation for certifications in general. Hiring managers are not naive. They know how some of these certifications are achieved.

Having said that, I must distinguish between those types of certifications you acquire by simple passing an exam (even if you decide to take an exam prep course) and those certifications where you must complete a course of study that helps you gain the knowledge and the hands-on experience that in fact help you do a better job. I refer to the first type as “Exam-Based Certifications” and the second type as “Education-Based Certifications”. We can also all agree that the only way we can establish and advance a profession is through education NOT through passing exams and getting certified. Would you be willing to be treated by a doctor who, theoretically speaking, to skip all years of medical school and was able to pass an exam to be a doctor? Would you be willing to fly on a aircraft that you know the people who tested it flight control system have taken a complete course of study to help them test every aspect of the system? Of course not. For these reason, the International Institute for Software Testing (IIST) has been offering education-based certifications since 1999. IIST has 12 types of certifications in software testing and QA. You can not get any of these certifications by simple passing an exam or even taking a prep course. What is also interesting about these certifications is that they help build a career path. The courses leading to those certifications are designed to give participants real experience to help them perform better. The exams given after taking these course are more of problem solving exams where participants have to work with an actual problem to solve. Those companies that had their people certified in this manner can see the difference in performance.

(Chris) #82

That distinction is one I also draw between the content of a course and the certification itself.

The course represents the possible knowledge you may choose to try to gain. Anyone sent against their will (e.g. they need it to apply for jobs that require it) may not learn anything. If the course is poor they may not learn anything or may learn bad habits and weak heuristics. The quality of the course and the engagement with it determines actual, real-world improvement.

The certification is a claim about its holder, usually a level of skill or applicable knowledge. The quality of a certification is in how accurate its claims are. The number of people I’ve met who have a good university degree from a reputable institution, but have a lower level of skill and applicable knowledge than those who do not (and vice versa) tells me that even a set of industries that are built and designed to specialise in the affordance of learning and testing through examination (schools, universities, exam boards, and associated groups) cannot tell me if someone is going to be good at something.

I’m happy if a course is instructive and well designed with practical application of accumulated knowledge, and I’m happier still if someone engaged with it and practised what they learned so they can apply it in a valid context, and I’m ecstatic about courses that set out to educate above providing paid access passes to interviews, but it’d take a lot for me to believe any of it based on a certification. I’m just too jaded.

If someone goes on an IIST course and it makes them an awesome tester who can explain their test framing to me and clearly tell an engaging story of testing then I’m over the moon. But they’ll still have to prove it to me after I’ve just interviewed a university educated candidate laden with certifications who tries to argue with me that context has nothing to do with the value of test activities.