Must have ISTQB....really?

In my experience, this kind of screening just tends to be a factor to make the number of applicants manageable. It’s the same thing as asking for x years experience or a 4-year degree, Masters, etc.

The only places I’ve seen any of these types of bars to jump over being dealbreakers is when companies are getting inundated with applicants - maybe they’re getting hundreds of applicants for a position, and since they don’t have time to go through all those resumes, they get it down to a manageable dozen or so by using some aribtrary-ish factors.


I have ISTQB foundation level. I took it because were I work at we realized different clients use some terms as different meanings. This is ok of course, we always adapt to the client. But we wanted to have a standard within our testing vocabulary. Al least for when discussing between us. And even when looking terminology up in the internet sometimes different meanings would come up. I don’t think foundation level really offers much in terms of up scaling testing skills. Although you need it to be able to take the following ISTQB certifications which seem to offer more.

Maybe some employers ask for certifications because they like to say their software is tested/QAd by “ISTQB certified software testers”? Sounds pretty, doesn’t it?

The company that I work for did NOT really care for us having it though. We actually requested it.


That would be me! I got Foundation because it was required by my first employer, and recommended by my test manager (whom I greatly admire up to this day, she did an amazing job at the project of that size). Then I got all the Advanced ones on a whim, partially because I was benched for a while, wanted to become even more interesting to customers, AND I wanted to gain insight into processes. I must say, I was very satisfied, but the deal is - I attented only one course for all the advanced ones. For others I did self-study. I must admit, that the test management was the most interesting for me, and - behold - it was actually quite useful in my very next assignment, where I could use it to help out the test department head in improving the process we were all engaged in.


These days I tend to see it as an amber flag on the company’s view and knowledge of testing in general.

In my distant past I have to admit I encouraged and supported training to get some team members this qualification, large offshore team, with hierarchical education and cultural backgrounds and English as a second language, bottom line it made things easier to manage but really did not promote growth in them as testers and in hindsight this was my mistake.

If the goal is command and control management of the team rather than growth of individuals it is actually quite a good fit but that is also where it also raises amber flags for those looking for testing roles where they really want to work in a highly empowered progressive environment.

In the wrong hands it can actually send the thinking around testing backwards in my view.

The intermediate and advanced levels do have some good and useful content and if you had a good trainer I can see a lot of value in studying those but still for me it carries a little too much formulaic thinking and maybe even an over focus on the known risks rather than a focus on the discovery and investigation of unknowns which is where some other course excel in getting that thinking across.


Right on the money David… I personally would never had bothered and I do not reference back to it, but it opened door to companies via a non-technical recruiter.

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Reminds me of this post (that has the highest number of replies so far on the Club :sweat_smile: )

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For me as an employer, I look for foundation as a minimum implies knowledge of test phases, terminology and some application. But that’s it.

As a tester, I took mine back when it was ISEB and felt it was worthwhile for the reasons mentioned above. It’s the same reason I sat foundations in ITIL, Prince 2, Certified Scrum Master and MS Programmer etc.

But we all know certification is a business in its own rights. Sometimes you have to play the game to get on.

Although, the CV scrapers now send me countless inappropriate roles due to that list.


I’m a former operator who did testing for a few years. I’ve been taking ITIL for my company but honestly all things considered it did not help me understand what I was doing as much as after I took ISTQB. I agree with you on the relevance of certifications and I tend to think that way for many of them. It is frustrating but we live in a stupid world. I would really love we get back to something that makes more sense. That said in our industry we need to reassure our clients on our ability to perform what it is they need. The way we often think of is certifications. That said while not having a cert does not prevent you from being proficient the opposite is also true. Holding a piece of paper barely just show that you could understand some information given on the syllabus. I’m a ISTQB Foundation certified person and yes I took it to display my will of being in the test industry. While some people would tell it is a useless piece of paper I’d rather tell it is a piece of paper that helps you have a basic grasp on things. If I understand well, as is the ISTQB cert has not much value until you get to the expert level. Then you will need to prove you’re really proficient which gives that certification a different value. I wish I can possess such a cert someday.
The cert won’t teach you to be a great tester but a job is your way open to become one. In the end you need to start somewhere. If you don’t give a chance to new testing blood, there also you can miss potential talents.
Kind regards,

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Maybe it is the places I have applied to in the past or maybe it is because I haven’t been looking for work in over 6 years but I never found jobs which required any sort of certification.

I have also been a hiring manager and only once did I work for a company which used CV screeners to filter down the number of resumes they sent me (otherwise I’d get 1000 resumes for each position). Most the time the people who made it past the CV screening were not at all qualified for the job. They were just really good at getting past CV screeners.

Maybe talking to friends or leveraging sites like LinkedIn to find someone to recommend you might be more fruitful.

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Not every place needs it. I had an interview in France and they do not care about the certification. In Luxembourg however you can expect to be asked for it. It depends on where basically.


I’m one of the testers who gained certifications to improve my skills. I was the first tester in my company. My line manager had no testing experience and being new to the job, I actively seeked to complete courses and certifications. I have now been in the job 3 and a half years and I have put together most of the processes we use in our quality department and I would never have been able to do it without having done the courses. I am always looking to learn something new in the quality world and always looking to up-skill myself, so definitely open to doing more. :slight_smile:


In the end HR will require testers to have an Agile PMI, ISTQB, Java Oracle cert, Atlassian certification (…) I’ve refused to pay for that certification, based on my experience it did not make sense.

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With the support of a community such as this one, do you feel that you could have created and learnt without a cert?

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I think it’s possible that I could have, but at the time I was not part of any community, I had next to no support in the office and I just had to figure things out on my own. Google was my best friend at the time, but with so many different forums out there telling you so many different things, it was hard to get a grip on what it took to do my job. It took a lot to get my head around the fact that there was so much more than just clicking a button and looking to see if I got the right outcome.
I picked the courses, I had no one recommending them to me and I certainly had no one telling me they were a must in order to do and retain my job.
I have 3 certifications, the foundation, agile extension and intermediate and I’m really glad I did them. I fully understand they are not for everyone, but I would actually recommend doing at least the foundation course, especially if like me, you’re new to the industry, never having done anything like it before. :slight_smile:


I’m from Ukraine. I have worked in testing for 10 years on quite a few projects, including branded / owned by worldwide known companies. Never was asked for certificate(s), though a few times was offered certification by some ISTQB-supporting associates.

After reading a few articles and ISTQB papers, I support positions of context-driven school of testing on this: certification is nothing important. Testing is a craft. A “kung-fu”, as we say recalling some action movies of 1980s and 1990s. You may earn color belt in some martial art for your performance, but not for knowing terminology. I believe testing should be like this: testing is what you do, to know some “standard” name(s) is not any good priority.

As for the customers, product owners, managers etc, those I worked with never cared if you speak in some standard terminology. You have to deliver results, meaning providing assessment on how SUT performs what problems are there.

They want to know:

  • If SUT does what it is expected to do (news client helps users to read news, gambling site allows people to play games and put bets)
  • If there are any problems with SUT
  • Information about the problems (steps to reproduce, in what cases it happens, how often it happens, how many users does it affect)

ISTQB does not help you with that.

The persons you report that to may be not of testing community at all. I had/have to report to Russian product owners, account managers and technical account managers from the US or the UK, project managers from Israel or Sweden. Persons you report to don’t have to know ISTQB, still the communications between you and them are of greatest importance.


Hi Terry, It is so nice to come across you from the internet. I am a fresher in testing. And I guess you hav a lot of experience and knowledge about how to start a testing career and how to learn the testing step by step. There is so much information(blog, vedios, conference and so on, it is too much to let me feel lost. Could you be kind to tell me how to start and where to start to master the testing skills gradually? Thank you in advance! Phillip

Hi Terry, It is so nice to come across you from the internet. I am a fresher in testing. And I guess you have a lot of experience and knowledge about how to start a testing career and how to learn the testing step by step. There is so much information(blog, vedios, conference and so on, it is too much to let me feel lost. Could you be kind to tell me how to start and where to start to master the testing skills gradually? Thank you in advance! Phillip

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You might be interested in reading this thread…


Hi Philip, Thank you for your message.
The best way to start for me was doing the Foundation course. I learnt a lot about the software development lifecycle and how testing fits in. I learned all the different techniques that you can use when testing, some of which I use on a daily basis. The course is not for everyone, as you can see by this conversation, but in my experience, it was worth it.
I also joined lots of testing forums and in my spare time I just read anything and everything testing…even if it doesn’t make sense when you’re reading it…it will eventually! :slight_smile:
Join some groups of LinkedIn too, that way you can get help when ever you think you might need it, I always found that there is someone out there who is willing to help and has the answers to your questions. A few I’m a part of are: QA & Testing Group, Software tester group, Ministry of Testing.
Hope you find this useful. :slight_smile:
Happy testing!

I wouldn’t apply for a company that has ISTQB as absolute requirement, if your boss doesn’t understand what testing is then it’s most likely he/she will have wrong expectations from the position.