Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Test Certifications - Don't Believe The Hype

Beware of the monster...

When it comes to the hype surrounding test certifications there seems to be more hype from those against it than there is from those for it. In fact if one was to believe the hype surrounding certifications from many a tester on the Internet you would be forgiven for believing that certifications represents a mythical four-headed fire-breathing monster.

A Distinction...
Personally I would say I am neither for ISQTB/ISEB certifications or for that matter against test certifications, and here is where my distinction lays, a distinction that seems absent from those who would call for the death penalty for those who support testing certifications. Did you spot the distinction, were you able to read between the lines?

To remove any ambiguity from those still left pondering, the point of distinction here is one involving the separation of test certifications from the absolute association that many have with the concept, where their only relationship with it seems to bind it exclusively to the different level ISEB/ISQTB certifications on offer.

So yeah, there are issues with them, but…
I would agree with sentiments on existing certifications regarding those seemingly focused around the completion of a multiple choice exams are no indication of knowledge or experience and that companies that take ANY certifications as blindly providing the skills or mentality required to be a tester lack an understanding of what the existing systems provide.

I disagree however with the virtual picket lines, pitchforks and torches and so forth though that seem to be directed towards those who have taken such certifications or find virtue in them as if it somehow tarnishes the skill level or other experiences / knowledge of the person.

I would contend that structure and formality provide guidelines that can prove beneficial for those developing their skills in the testing field, particularly in a field that seems to lack much formal structure or clear pathways for development within it. I found myself that even just from picking up the syllabus for more advanced level certifications and being exposed to some ideas, ideas that I had not encountered prior to that point that without even needing sit an exam I experienced benefits from it.

In addition to this even for experienced testers it is beneficial to have a frame of reference from which to compare your own practices to and care of upper level certifications they gain the opportunity to compare the expected knowledge / skillsets of a more senior tester with that of their own to gain a better sense of how they sit in relation to their fellow testers.

A difference of opinion...
It surprises me that because a certification may preach a different methodology / practice than something one may be used to that seems adequate for some to cite it a harmful force bent on destruction of the skilled tester.

So whilst existing certifications are with issue, the issue seems to focus much more around perception on what these certifications represent, differences of opinions on methodologies taught and what not than around what can a certification actually provide a tester.

I believe if people were not so tripped up by these perceptions that certifications could represent in bringing some value to the testing community and that whilst no certifications will ever be a one-stop solution they can still represent another part of a testers education, knowledge base and experiences.

It is after all the cumulation of a persons experiences that define who we are and what we believe rather than any individual / single event, but each event still represents a piece of the bigger puzzle.

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