Must have ISTQB....really?

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.


Isn’t this the whole point though? Many non-testing professionals don’t know about Testing, so they look for a measure which shows you know your craft. Same in any role.

Personally I won’t employ anyone with less than 5 years experience. That might be harsh, but I think it’s a fair measure to show you’ve worked on a variety of differing projects. If you’ve got 5+ years and at least a testing foundation certificate, chances are you’ll know your role well.

Would you employee a developer with no certification and 1 years experience. Of course not.

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I’ve employed fresh out of school students with strong logical problem solving and critical reasoning skills that have absolutely destroyed 10+ year veterans with ISTQB certifications that couldn’t think for themselves or problem solve. For that reason, I don’t track on your reasoning here.

I had a tester with more experience than I had and several certs. If I wasn’t managing his work at a level approaching micromanagement he’d get lost, have a hard time getting things done. On more than one occasion he came to me to solve a problem we’d already solved before more than once.

I had a fourth year math co-op who fell back on testing roles because she didn’t get selected in her preferred roles. She had no experience or direct interest and she was still performing at a professional level within three weeks. By the time she left after the three month term I was desperate to find someone to replace her.

I hire types of people. If they come with the testing skills that’s great. If they don’t, I can teach testing. I can’t teach people how to think.


That’s interesting reading @davidshute. I know there are other threads on interviewing on the Club, but specifically I’d like to know your approach.

You see we tend to recruit our junior testers from internal departments, they already have the system knowledge, but we sometimes struggle to get a good idea of their problem solving and critical thinking…how do you measure that during interview?

Fully half an interview is play. Typically logic games, logic puzzles, how would you test {x}, high level technical troubleshooting.

I’m also very, very clear with interviewees in that I am interested in how they think. I will reiterate that several times during an interview. I will also tell them that I don’t care if they get the objectively correct answer on logic puzzles and that’s true. I’ve passed on people that have gotten all the “right” answers, but couldn’t think past that solution for other options and hired people that “failed” every single one, but came up with many possible solutions that approached the right answer.

It’s hard to do this kind of interaction because it’s inherently open and can be heavily impacted by how nervous someone is. To alleviate that I try to encourage strong communication behaviours like talking out loud, working on the whiteboard, and asking questions. I also encourage interviewees to come dressed as they would for a typical work day. Again, I reiterate that I’m looking for how they think and problem solve, not whether they get the right answer.

I think there’s also a personality type in there that enjoys being frustrated by problems. They’re always the ones that are eager to hear the solution, if the problem has one, and a good natured mix of frustration and joy, especially when they closely approached the solution.

Ultimately, it requires interaction and it’s very difficult to do a regimented, scripted interview to find these types of qualities.


I agree and can relate to this!!
If someone hadn’t given me the opportunity to do this job…having never done anything like it before. I would not be in the career I’m in! They saw qualities in me that I didn’t even see in myself! I’m all about giving someone an opportunity to thrive! :slight_smile:

(Full disclosure: Am on the American board’s Technical Advisory Board.) Actually, the Advanced Level certifications have a lot of value in my arena (admittedly, mostly DOD centered). My employer places great store in it. My previous employer required getting the Advanced Tester cert, not for the paper itself, but because the training was needed. The Advanced level tests are hard–we design them to be hard. (Designing good tests is really hard; that was an eye-opener!)

Of course, a cert is in some sense just a paper. But every time I’ve studied for one, I’ve learned a lot. Have had SCRUM training, was doing Agile for several years, and was already certified as a “Full” Advanced Tester before encountering the ISTQB Agile Tester syllabus. Improved the quality of my tests greatly. Don’t denigrate it just because it’s an extension to the Foundation Level! It’s really useful. Even if you don’t want the certs, take a look at the syllabuses. Good tools to have, all!

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I’m in exactly the same alignment with you on the critical thinking in how someone approaches testing. I’ve been working in Games Testing for around 6 years and it’s one of the things I look for when hiring, an example I’ll give is that we have a basic test to gauge an applicants skill, one of the main things I’ll see is so often a person will only write a test for exactly what they see that’s in front of them.

I would personally prefer to take someone that has less experience but can learn Software and other Skills but thinks entirely different about how to approach testing than someone who has years of experience but doesn’t think outside of the box and from my experience of this I find the people who have the different thinking also pick up skills much quicker and want to learn more.

As for the ISTQB, in my area of Games it doesn’t feel like it’s worth anything and not something I would be bothered about when hiring, in every company I’ve been in words differ from company to company as do processes. Not that it couldn’t be valuable to someone else however but generally from everyone I’ve spoken to on it, they neither used anything it taught in their jobs and it’s relevance to how they worked was non existent.


ISTQB/ISEB is useful for the consistent set of terminology, and the overall thing informs a lot of how I work, but I wouldn’t pay for the certification unless employers were specifically asking me for it. At the very least, I think anyone involved in software and systems testing should at least have read up on the subject. You never know what you might take away from it.

Thankfully in Canada it’s not viewed as important. Infact its viewed as useless. Paper proves nothing about WHO you are and how well you can problem solve. There are far more valuable ways to improve your career.
Sort of reminds me of ITIL when the craze was on. I have this certificate and no one cares.

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I got my CFTL in 2007 - because I needed to learn more about QA and the general concepts of QA. It is a great starting place for people who are new to QA

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I did it! I used the book and the course to learn the basics of software testing when I started my career in testing.
And I like the various syllabi on the various topics as they are a very nice resource of knowledge. One can learn more about a special field of software testing (e. g. security, agile, …) - even with no budget available :wink:

I first got my CTFl in 2007; and I got it because I needed to understand the basics of software testing. This allowed me to improve my testing abilities as well as start to implement better processes for my team at the time. I realize these days people feel that this is not a value add, however it does teach the basics of how to test software.

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I believe it’s helpful to learn the theory behind testing.