ISTQB Series - Part 1: What can you get from the certification?

From time to time, I get questions from testers asking if there is any benefit to pursuing ISTQB tester certifications. Maybe you have thought about this topic in the past. So I will try to summarize my view on ISTQB certification using the 'ISTQB series', which hopefully will be useful not only for novice testers.

In the beginning of this series of articles, I will mention some basic information about ISTQB and its certification scheme. In the next two parts I will then generalize a bit about the topic of certifications. I will introduce you to my view of certifications through the eyes of an employee and an employer, and explain why to pursue ISTQB certification in the first place. In the last part, I will summarize useful tips for preparing for the ISTQB exam.

About ISTQB and its certification scheme

But let's get on with the ISTQB certifications I mention in the title. First, let's talk a little bit about ISTQB, in case the acronym doesn't ring a bell.

The ISTQB  (International Software Testing and Quality Board) is an international non-profit organization founded in 2002 that provides a standard and certification scheme for software testing. ISTQB has 61 member committees covering 129 countries as of January 2021 (CaSTB is the representative for the Czech Republic and Slovakia) and has issued more than 750,000 certificates through certification test providers.

In its more than 18 years of existence, the ISTQB has developed an impressive array of modules. The most up-to-date version can be found on the ISTQB homepage, but the principles can be seen in the figure below (mapping the status as of December 2021).

The individual modules are grouped into 3 groups:

  • CORE – core modules that do not specialize in a particular type of testing or a particular approach to software delivery (sequential/agile).
  • AGILE – a set of modules focused on an agile approach to software delivery.
  • SPECIALIST – specialized modules that cover a specific topic area of testing.

In the CORE and AGILE stream, the sub-modules are divided into three and two levels, respectively, in terms of level of knowledge – Advanced and Expert. In the SPECIALIST group you will not find advanced levels.

In general, the condition for you to be able to take the exam at all is (in addition to paying the fee) to pass the lower level exam. What does this mean?

  • For all exams (including the Agile Tester at the entry level), possession of a Certified Testing Level Field (CTFL) certificate is a prerequisite.
  • For advanced level exams, the requirement is a basic level certificate for that stream (e.g. CTFL certificate for the Certified Advanced Level Tester – Test Analyst exam).
  • For expert level exams, an advanced level certificate is a prerequisite.

But what do you actually get with ISTQB certification?

  • A better position in the job market

  • Internationally recognised validation of knowledge

  • Discounts on conferences and other benefits, which we will discuss in more detail soon in part 2 of our series

So, will you advance your career with us thanks to ISTQB?

Sign up for the entry course we're running on January 30th!

Author: Miroslav Renda

Mirek has been working in various project roles in the IT business for more than 25 years. For the last 8 years he has enjoyed interesting projects in large Czech banks and in the automotive industry as a test manager. He is a co-author of the book Effective Software Testing published by GRADA. He loves his two children, nature, and sports in any form.