Thursday, 1 August 2013

Value in QA Courses/Qualifications?

I have in the past questioned the value in getting certifications/going on courses for the sake of getting a certificate in testing.

Whilst I do still question the worth of such an issue, I have recently read some articles which has shown me there is more value in these courses/certificates than I previously gave them credit for.

The main positive that I can think of, upon completing a course like an ISEB Foundation, is that it ensures that testers are on the same page when it comes to communicating. A bug is a bug, or if I'm speaking to someone about Integration testing, they know exactly what I am talking about and won't get confused.

I think in ensuring that everybody is on the same page when it comes to discussing testing issues/testing activities, it helps in gaining respect and confidence from other teams and other team members, as we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. 

It isn't just about communication in the term of words however, it is important to understand what automated testing is for example, and when or how it might be useful, which you can possibly get from a course/certificate.

What I don't like about certificates is that they are mandatory in some roles/jobs, or the stigma associated with some, just because someone has a qualification, does not mean they are a good tester. I have met many testers with qualifications who I would question their ability, as well on the other hand I have met good testers who don't necessarily have the same qualifications who I think are awesome testers!

So, what I am trying to get at is that I don't believe that certifications should be a pre-requisite for getting jobs, nor should they be held in such high esteem as they are in some places, what they could and perhaps should be used for is ensuring that there is a level of understanding within/across teams. What I am open to is how we gain that level of understanding, in my opinion it doesn't have to be from a qualification, so long as there is something in place to ensure that we are all talking about the same thing, then I'd be happy. If people think qualifications help them get to this level, then who am I to judge? 


  1. Spend some time on testing forums and you'll find many different variations on what is a bug, what is integration testing. Rather than trying to get people to use an ISEB definition isn't it better to learn how to communicate and understand what the other person means?

    and to carry on with this, you say "it is important to understand what automated testing is for example" - given the amount of blog posts and arguments about what it meant by this I'd like to know what you mean by 'automated testing'...

    1. Whilst it is good to learn how to communicate and understand, if the people using the terms understand them fully, then there isn't the need to spend time understanding what someone meant when really they meant something else?

      I'm not talking industry wide, my reasoning behind this is more around teams within a company, here it is important to have standard definitions for certain terms surely?

      With regards to 'automated testing' it was just a generic example to be honest :p

      But to expand, to me, automated testing is any testing that is done by a machine, doesn't matter if it's unit tests or acceptance tests, they are all a form of automated testing.

      Obviously there will be big discussions over some terms and when to use them, as people believe in different things, but in my opinion it's important to at least have some form of understanding within teams of what it is being discussed.

  2. I agree with your point that certifications should never be pushed as a mandatory requirement. But I still have my doubts that certifications can help achieve that "We all understand each other" - claim.
    My question is how hard is it for a team to introduce the team's 'words/terminologies' to a new tester? Will this simple step not solve someone sitting thru and spending loads of money on a certification? Also I find it interesting to know why a tester would use the same word in a different context. May be his/her word could be more appropriate to what I have been using?!

    1. You could, but in having the course before you join, you're more than likely understand what's being said and when to use certain terminology :)

  3. The economic fight against certifications flushed the need for basic training down the toilet with it...
    With all the noise around it, people return to think that training is not required for testers.
    I think basic training as well as a life time of additional learning is a must for any tester.
    Some need the certification as incentive for learning.
    It may also backfire - when some don't learn testing but just for the sake of passing the exam.
    Basic (foundation) certification really has nothing to do as pre-requisite - it should be supplied to new employees by the company in case these don't have it yet.