Let’s first define the terms. A certification is a form of confirmation by a special body that a product, service, or any object meets certain requirements or standards. In our case, this concerns certain knowledge and learning outcomes.
Now, to answer the question of whether testers need certification, answer it in the context of other jobs: developers, Scrum masters, system administrators, DevOps specialists, financial managers, doctors, and others. Well, there is no definite answer to this.
Even if your employer puts forward requirements for you to have some kind of certificate, you can always choose: get it or change jobs.
Your professionalism is proved not by excellent ideas, facial expressions, or the way your walk. You need a document – a certificate. An example of such a “certificate” is a higher education diploma. This is the same, only the name is different, and the certification body, in this case, is the Ministry of Education. And so the question is, does anyone need this diploma? Does it always confirm the real knowledge of the person? The answer depends on the degree of examination and control of the student’s knowledge from the so-called certification body.
It seems incredible, but I know officials, business leaders, and several public figures who have a document on secondary education, but they find it difficult to answer when it comes to trigonometry, the valency of chemical elements, or spelling. And the worst thing about this is that none of you are now surprised by this. It’s the same story with driving licenses.
The importance and value of diplomas and certificates is ranked not only depending on the degree, but also on the authority that issued them, and even on the country where these same authorities are located. Some diplomas are very difficult to obtain, some are more recognized, others less, but there are international diplomas that are recognized all over the world. Remember omnia mea mecum porto, which means that this is not the diploma that we carry with us, but knowledge in our head.
A large number of different certifications for testers exist, such as QAI, BCS, CMS, CETRA, ISCB, and others. We still have certificates from Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, as well as from Udemy, Coursera, Edx. But the most popular certification for testers remains ISTQB. Let’s talk about it.
Let’s start with the risks and disadvantages. They are the same in this certification as in any other. There is a risk of paying for the exam and not passing it. At the same time, during the training, you will definitely get new skills, which is much more important. Any risk implies a certain probability of an unfortunate event occurring, and if you are really well prepared, then this probability is zero. For me personally, especially when selecting candidates, the presence of any of the ISTQB certificates is a confirmation that the applicant was able to process a certain amount of information, complete the ISTQB preparation process, and successfully pass the control test. The candidate is undoubtedly interested in the field of testing and was, let’s say, tested.
For a company, such a candidate is interesting, since has knowledge that meets international standards, can successfully apply it to a project, and share it with others. And if we are talking about outsourcing, then it can simply be sold at a higher price.
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Studying and preparing for the exam helps to structure the existing skills in the field of testing and to look at the world of testing from the height of the international experience of hundreds of companies.
The exam itself, like all international exams, cannot be passed just like that, you cannot fake it, here you need to be well versed in the material. This is the value of this certification, that it is objective and impartial testing of your knowledge. The presence of such a certificate is in great demand in Europe, the USA, and Canada and is a benefit for relocation.
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ISTQB has programs for automated testing specialists, test analysts, test managers, and other professionals. It is desirable to get the basic level of ISTQB after at least six months of commercial testing experience, but you should not postpone it. If you do not need this certificate for relocation or its presence is not a requirement of the company, you are unlikely to agree to take such an exam, being already a Senior. Just like books have a recommended age, so with certification, it seems to me, there is a recommended professional experience.
I advise you to start preparing for the exam with the materials on the official website. Read the syllabus, see the sample assignments, and brush up on the contents of the writings of Copeland, Kaner, and especially Rex Black in your head. It is also worth paying attention to the standards, because even if the good old IEEE 829 has already been read to pieces, then ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 is still able to please with something new. Then analyze typical tasks and organize the information received. You can find a mentor, sign up for a training course, or study on your own. Advanced Level will require a little more preparation, but it is much more interesting than Foundation.
Remember that this is just a test of the acquired information, knowledge of world standards, and not a panacea. Often, ideas that are great in theory cannot be fully applied to the real project, so they need to be applied carefully.
Preparation to passing any certification requires a certain amount of time, which can be spent scrolling social networks, listening to music, and watching movies. But if, as they say, you have “time and motivation”, then why not pass it? The ball is on your side, you decide.