ISTQB certification for novices and experienced testers – is it worth it?

18 August 2020

Gaining employment in the IT industry has been a temptation for some time, not only because of high earnings, but also because of the stability of employment and the ever-increasing demand for workers in this growing sector. It is these very same aspects that make the profession of software tester more and more attractive.

Software testing attracts in equal measure those first entering the labor market, as well as those previously employed in different positions in other industries. People are becoming consistently more aware of the job market and what it can offer, meaning that the classic model of spending several years in one workplace is now consigned to history. Employees are not afraid of switching employers or industries, even if it involves starting a career path from the very beginning.

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The first step towards a career

Ever more often, people who want to start their adventure as a tester decide to participate in training that ends with taking the ISTQB exam. ISTQB certification is not too demanding. The training is aimed at beginners with no experience. It should be noted that the knowledge gained during the ISTQB training will remain only theory if we do not commence relevant work shortly after completing the training, gaining experience in the profession.

From the perspective of the person who has decided to switch industries, completing a multi-day training course ending with an ISTQB certificate significantly increases their chances of working as a software tester. You may go as far as to say that this is the only way to be invited to attend an interview.

Proper preparation for the interview and good self-presentation may well pay off. Young testers are in demand on the IT job market. More and more often I hear this sentiment expressed: “Let’s hire someone with no experience, but with some promise, maybe someone just out of school?”. There are a lot of potential savings for the employer in doing this, and properly conducted recruitment will identify these candidates. Such an employee, with the support of the team, can quickly catch up with more senior colleagues and – due to the credit of trust shown to them – turn out to be a very loyal employee.

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Certification and professional experience

Those already working as software testers have a markedly different approach to ISTQB certification. Gaining this qualification is not an urgent priority for them; after all, they have a job, and the theory gleaned during the course may not be relevant for professionals already in the game. Testing tools and applied solutions change dynamically. In order to stay up-to-date, experienced testers are much more likely to refer to up-to-date articles describing new testing tools or novelties from the world of technology.

In this situation, certification is seen as evidence of previously acquired skills or as just a formality, not a reflection of the level of responsibilities undertaken or skills demonstrated. The approach changes only when we want to change jobs. Then the confirmation of your knowledge and skills in the form of the ISTQB Certificate suddenly becomes a great idea.

In summary, at varying stages of the career path, gaining an ISTQB certificate has a different significance. In any case, if the exam study is accompanied by applying skills and gaining experience in a professional setting, it certainly won’t be money down the drain.

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