As a software test professional, you may be considering adding a test certification to your qualifications. CSTP, CTM, CSTE, CMST, ISEB, ISTQB – there are many certifications available and it can become confusing to understand which one is best for you. This article will explain what to look out for when deciding which software testing certification you will take.
Firstly, lets take a look at some of the certification acronyms. CSTP (Certified Software Test Professional) and CTM (Certified Test Manager) are both certifications offered by the International Institute for Software Testing (IIST), which is based in the US CSTE (Certified Software Tester) and CMST (Certified Manager of Software Testing) are offered by the QAI institute, also based in the US The ISEB (Information System Exam Board) offers a number of IT related certifications, including software testing and is associated with the British Computer Society. ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) offers the certification "ISTQB Certified Tester" over a number of levels.
The first question to ask is if the certification offer different levels ?. Different levels can continue to build your certification as your career progresses. A career in testing generally starts at the test analyst level, then progresses to senior tester, test lead and then test manager. A certification program that offers certifications aimed at different levels starting from a basic or foundation level to advanced and test manager levels, may be more useful than one that only provides a single certification level.
Find out if the certification is more widely known and available only in certain countries. The Certified Software Test Professional (CSTP) qualification is a US based qualification and as such is only available in the US, whereas the ISTQB certification is available internationally and has local representation in many countries.
Does the certification require attending training courses or can they be completed online or by self study? Attending training courses in person offers the benefits of completing a course in a certain time period and having access to a qualified instructor, to listen to their experience and to be able to ask questions. Training courses can be expensive though and some people will prefer an option where they are not required to attend a training course but can complete the course in their own time by self study.
Does the testing qualification require work experience? The CSTP certification has a requirement that the applicant has worked in a test related role for at least one year. While this is OK for those already working IT and in testing, if you are looking to break into the field, this will not be a suitable certification to study for.
Does the certification qualification count towards earning other testing certifications or other qualifications ?. For example, holders of the ISTQB certification will gain credit towards the CSTP qualification. The foundation level of the ISEB certification is equivalent to the ISTQB foundation level. Other certifications can offer credit against university or college degrees.
Does the certification expire? If the certification expires you will need to take the time and expense to study and take the exam again after some time. The CSTP certification is valid for three years and after that, testers need to qualify again to keep their certification.
Is a testing qualification mentioned in the job advertisements in your local area? Take a look at what qualifications are mentioned and if they are desirable, preferred or required. This can vary by country, for example in the UK many job advertisement will mention the requirement for a tester to be ISEB qualified.