Qualifications & Training

Hi All,

First time poster here.

I work as a manual tester for a big financial organization and have been here a lot of year now. In the time i have worked here i have only really studied for the ISTQB foundation test certificate which i attained some time ago and im now looking at the Agile foundation principles study and exam. I have recently gained a new found thirst for knowledge and a desire to gain more qualifications but when i look online there are literally tonnes as im sure you will all know.

I guess my question is, what are the key exams and qualifications that you would look for in a candidate applying to work at your firms and what qualifications do you hold which are relevant to your roles as testers and you feel maybe added another dimension to your thought process as a tester as well as physical skills whether that be tools or software

Sorry that’s maybe a little high level and a few questions within a question but any experience and thoughts, no matter how small would be most welcome

Thanks in advance


Welcome to MoT @mattskp !!

To be honest, I don’t look for certification in interviews. It’s just a piece of paper.
I rather give them an exercise and see how they work with it. Some companies still do look at certification which is ok but meh. So you’ve obtained ISTQB foundation and how much of ISTQB is actually comparable with reality?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn new things here, there are a lot of things to learn. I just wouldn’t focus on ISTQB but rather on something else. What I look for is how they deal with situations and what they really know about testing / QA. As long as when you can explain yourself fully in an interview, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you then start talking about ISTQB … I won’t be impressed due to it not being much like ‘reality’ if you catch my drift? (At least here in Belgium)

This picture will explain my thought process:


I agree with @kristof , there is no good certification for testing as it stands. Good knowledge for testing is out on the internet waiting to be absorbed and learned. I do recommend the tips that James Bach puts out on his rapid software testing (RST) website. I’m not affiliated with them, I just like what they do. You can also find talks he’s done on Youtube if you search ‘james bach testing’.

Michael Bolton is also instructor for RST and his blog is at developsense.com. I noticed you used the term ‘manual tester’. It may interest you to read The End of Manual Testing « Developsense Blog.

I wish there was a certification that existed, but formal testing education is meh right now.


I passed the Agile extension earlier this year. Be warned: the official BCS text is tedious in the extreme. It is so dull and wordy that I gave up at one point and passed the ASTQB Mobile exam instead, before returning to the Agile text for a second attempt.


thanks for the heads up Jon - i have been doing practise exams in the main since i have a good foundation knowledge on it from my day to day role and then filling in the gaps from google :smile:

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I’ve got a practical test that I use for QA/Test roles. It’s a pretty basic spec for a page with a dozen fields including an email address and a calculated field based on an age that on successful submission of data emails the address with some information. The applicant is given a set time to assess the spec, draft an outline test plan (I’m expecting them to google a sample and do a very brief edit), to identify areas where they need extra info and start to outline the test cases for key areas of the spec and give data examples for fields that have a special requirement such as how to test for a valid email address (this can be a URL to a relevant article).

The spec has a couple of holes in it that, if presented in the real world, I’d expect a tester to question with the analyst (especially around the age calculation - age on what date for example).

Over the last 18 months the only applicant who spotted the biggest hole in my spec had no formal qualifications and wasn’t even working as a tester at that point. The majority of those who did have qualifications gave an “a@b.co.uk” type example for a valid email address and “abc” as invalid rather than considering number of characters, valid characters etc and didn’t consider what should happen if the email failed to send (verifying send, re-queueing, notifying the user etc).

If you’re thinking about taking qualifications make sure it’s for the right reason and for an area that you’re going to use. I’m always wary of an application with a long list of qualifications taken over a relatively short time because I’m far more interested in experience and practical application of what’s been learnt.

A relatively new tester in one of my teams failed their foundation course (exams just don’t work for some people) but applies the knowledge gained by studying the course on a daily basis and certainly works a long way above foundation level whereas in the past I’ve seen testers who have a massive list of qualifications fail to test to any sort of acceptable standard.

Being able to talk about what you’ve learnt and show how you’ve put it to use is far more important to me than being able to say you’ve got a qualification.


Welcome on board Matt!

Mostly, don’t get put off trying to get a certificate, but rather decide if that’s a certificate relevant to your current role, or a certificate that lets you hop into a new job. Because perhaps, a better way of hopping into a new job, is to probably do a few online free courses, so you can get past an interview. That way at least you get background in the impact of “automation”, as Philip pointed out in the RST blog link The End of Manual Testing « Developsense Blog . A lot of people think test-automation is an upgrade in the tester ranks, but it really is not, 90% of this job is not about automated tests, more it’s about the ability to use a wide variety of tools. And tools skill is something the certifications do not cover in any breadth.


My main reason for getting certified was that my project had just been cancelled due to Covid, we were in lockdown, and there was literally nothing to do all last summer. So I thought it was time I “put a ring on it”, so to speak.


@chrissi thanks for the reply. Completely agree, testing comes down to a lot of logic and common sense in my opinion too which an exam or qualification doesn’t test (excuse the pun). I’d like to think i could comfortably get through an interview with questions and practical tasks without any qualifications but i was more looking at putting something onto paper too to also back up my knowledge (im not looking at overkill either). I guess my reasoning for doing it is largely due to not having done many exams or courses in the past so it would be nice to get a few under my belt but obviously the take away is just as vital like you have said, regardless or a pass or fail - applying what you have learnt is key too!

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They should invent exams which actually require doing a test, just like in security going for your OSCP exam which takes 48 hours and hacking a lab. You could have 24 hours testing an application.

This would be epic!


@kristof haha great idea, that would be very interesting!


Hi all,

First-time poster.

I am currently in between jobs in Switzerland and I am looking for training with certification in Software testing.
I read all replies with a lot of interest. But I got the following question:
The ISTQB Certified Tester – Foundation Level training with certification is a good investment in terms of time and money or CAST is better?

Thank you in advance for your advice.



You have to check your local market, I think ISTQB is more popular and more in demand than CAST. (At least here in Belgium). I would advise to look up some vacancies and see if they ask for ISTQB or CAST. It’s the only way to know :stuck_out_tongue:

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Hello Kristof,

Thank you for your advice and time.
The certification ISTQB is more popular than CAST in Switzerland.

I will look for training on this topic.

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Happy to say i studied for and passed the ISTQB Agile foundation tester exam a couple weeks back. I completely get what was discussed on this thread and the knowledge i have taken away to now be able to demonstrate and use counts a lot more than the certificate itself.


@mattskp How was the ISTQB Agile compare to the Foundations level? I was considering to take it as my next cert in my last company, as ISTQB was required in the career advancement track for testers - manage to doge it by escaping to a more relaxed company, but I’m still curious about what it was like.

@mirza To be honest it wasn’t that bad, i already had a sound level of knowledge and then filled in the gaps, studied on and off for an hour or so every other day over about 3 week period then took the exam. The hardest part was that my company has adopted some of the methodology but then gone off on a tangent and doing other things in their own unique way so when i was reading some questions i found it hard to differentiate with what was right and wrong initially :rofl: