A Test this Blog reader asked,

“Every few years we look at certifications for our testers. I'm not sure that the QA/testing ones carry the same weight as those for PMs or developers. Do you have any advice on this?”

I’ll start an answer by telling you my opinion and maybe some of my readers will respond to finish.

The only software testing certification I’ve tried to get was from IIST. Read my post, Boycott the International Institute for Software Testing, to understand why I gave up. 

Ever since, I’ve been learning enough to stay engaged and passionate about software testing without certifications.  I’ve been learning at my own pace, following my own needs and interests, by reading software testing blogs, books, thinking, and attending about one testing conference (e.g., CAST, STAR, STPCon) per year.  My “uncertified” testing skills have been rewarded at work via promotions, and this year I will be speaking at my third test conference.  This pace has been satisfying enough for me…sans certifications.

I tend to follow the testers associated with the Context Driven Testing school/approach. These testers have convinced me certifications are not the best way to become a skilled tester.  Certifications tend to reward memorization rather than learning test skills you can use.  The courses (I’m not sure if they are considered certifications) Context Driven Testers seem to rally around are the online Black Box Software Testing courses, Foundations, Bug Advocacy, and Test Design.  I planned  to enroll in the Foundations course this year but I have my first baby coming so I’ve wimped out  on several ambitions, including that.

So, as a fellow Test Manager, I do not encourage certifications on my testers.  Instead I encourage their growth other ways:

  • This year we are holding a private Rapid Software Testing course for our testers.
  • I encourage (and sometimes force) my testers to participate in a testers-teaching-test-skills in-house training thing we do every month.  Testers are asked to figure out what they are good at, and share it with other testers for an hour.
  • We have a small QA Library.  We try to stock it with the latest testing books. I often hand said books to testers when the books are relevant to each tester’s challenges.
  • I encourage extra reading, side projects, and all non-project test-related discussions.
  • We encourage testers to attend conferences and share what they learned when they return.
  • We attend lots of free webinars.  Typically, we’re disappointed and we rip on the presenters, but we still leave the webinar with some new tidbit.

So maybe this will give you other ideas.  Let’s see if we get some comments that are for or against any specific certifications.

You’re probably a good leader just to be asking and thinking about this in the first place.  Thanks for the question. 


  1. Steven said...

    Can you (or have you already done so) post a list of the books in your "small QA Library"

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