Certifications are great. Don’t get me wrong. There are cases where they add real value to the person possessing them. Plumbers, electricians, divers, teachers, welders, etc… However, those certifications not only require written tests but also training programs, skills assessments, and some even require apprenticeships. Conversely, there are times when their real value comes into question.
For example, according to my driver’s license, I am certified to operate a car, boat, and motorcycle. However, I have only driven a car. I am not even sure how the motorcycle endorsement got on there, but it’s there. So, without ever having driven one, do you think that “certification” qualifies me to hop on my husband’s brand new shiny Yamaha V-Star and hit the open road? Absolutely not! I wouldn’t make it out of our driveway. On the flip side, my stepson has been riding dirt bikes almost his entire life and has the experience to do it but isn’t “certified” to do so. Which one of us will be more successful at operating my husband’s bike properly? The answer is simple… not the certified person!
The same is true with certifications for software testers. There are programs out there that are great at teaching you the basic concepts, tools, and ideologies for testing. The real problem with some of the top certifications is that they do not even require you to have any formal training on the testing process. Without experience, you can simply take a test, pass, and **TA-DA** you are a “certified tester”– no real world application necessary to ensure you really can do the work.
Interestingly, most top testing experts do not have these so-called “certifications.” According to a recent MSDN article that I read, most testers at Microsoft do not even have testing certifications. Does that mean they are not qualified to do their jobs? Are the leading testing experts not qualified to mentor the rest of us? I think not! Anyone can study and pass a test. It takes a special type of person to actually decide to follow the career path of testing.
I will leave you with a few things to ponder… if the world’s largest software company obviously does not see value in hiring testers with these testing certifications, what value do you see in them? If you want to take the certification test, that’s great. It looks really good on a resume. However, would you prefer to hire a certified person with no previous testing experience or a seasoned tester with 13 years of proven, real world testing experience but no certification? Luckily, for me, DAXKO chose the latter!
Want to read more about software testing certifications? Visit these blogs from 2 leading testing experts:
- JW on Test: http://blogs.msdn.com/james_whittaker/archive/2008/09/11/on-certificiation.aspx
- James Bach’s Blog: http://www.satisfice.com/blog/archives/130