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The testing certification debate continues

Software testing certification has been a contentious issue for many years. Recently, this debate has been reignited by a damning blog post from a noted tester.

Jennette Mullaney

Software testers, always a spirited bunch, get particularly feisty about the issue of certification. A recent blog post from Evil Tester, A Short History of my ISEB Software Testing Certification involvement," has rekindled a debate that has been raging for many years. For some background, check out the "Software testing controversies" Wikipedia entry.

Evil Tester, whose name is Alan Richardson and who is not really evil, recounts his depressing and fruitless attempts to reform the ISEB certification test from within. In comments, tester Michael Bolton proudly mentions that he had achieved anti-certification status. Tester James Bach takes this idea one step further on his blog, proposing badges for those who partake in "Conscientious Uncertification." I recommend both blog posts, comments included. (Of course, we at don't condone the mocking of certification courses that advertise on Those are the *good* certifications.)

Scott Barber discussed an issue that intersects with the certification debate -- that of the vague and varying titles of software testers -- in his latest Peak Performance column, "Software testers: Identity crisis or delusions of grandeur?" While teaching classes on software testing, Scott has noticed a disconnection between the titles software testers display on their business cards and the actual work the testers do.

"As if the sheer number of titles weren't bad enough," he writes, "many of them are just plain erroneous."

Considering the insane hours worked and the obsessive dedication to quality displayed by most software testers, I think the title of "Software Tester" alone should communicate enough. And for some software testers, adding a phrase like "Freedom Tester" to their business card may communicate even more.

The debate over project management certification is lively, too. Those interested should see Bas de Baar's column, "Finding work as a PM: Value of certification debatable," for an introduction. Editor in Chief Michelle Davidson echoed his sentiments in her own column, "Experience, skills worth more than certification," and readers responded.

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