ISTQB, the International Software Testing Qualifications Board, is recognised as the principal organization in the world that tests software quality analysts for their knowledge and skills and certifies them. The need was felt by developers all over the world for such a central certification body in order to have a standardised regime for high level of software testing. The ISTQB was founded in 2002 and its certification is accepted as a standard qualification for software testers internationally. It uses a training scheme based on a common software language to ensure that testers worldwide follow a common curriculum learn the same skills and best practices.
The Board consists of some accredited 58 member institutes worldwide from 81 countries. Member institutes within the ISTQB are responsible for developing and maintaining the various software testing syllabus and exams.
The ISTQB divides it courses by levels – Foundation, Advanced, Expert – which are characterised by the progressively increasing level of learning objectives. The course too is divided into module clusters consisting of Core, Agile and Specialist certification modules. The international member institutes develop and maintain the internationally uniform curricula and exams for all levels of certification. The curriculum and exams for ISTQB certification are freely available on its website.
Foundation level exam
The Foundation Level exam in more theoretical in nature and requires knowledge of software development, especially in the field of software testing. This exam tests the candidate for knowledge, and not skill. It provides information about the certificate holder’s familiarity with common concepts of software testing and terminology. It does not require work experience. The Foundation exam is ideal for project managers, business analysts, software development managers, who are given basic software testing training. The curriculum starts with the basics of testing and why it is needed, then moves on to discuss how testing can happen practically at different stages of the software development life cycle.
While the Foundation Level exam is a stepping stone for qualification, the Advanced Level is more in-depth and much more practice-oriented. Also, while the foundation course tests the candidates’ knowledge of software, the advanced course tests their skill levels. This exam deals with more practical aspects and requires deeper knowledge in special areas. The curriculum for Advanced level certification has three sections: Advanced Test Manager, Advanced Test Analyst, and Advanced Technical Test Analyst. Each has its own syllabus for study.
This level of exam is suited for Quality Assurance professionals who have done their Foundation-level certification and have passed one or more Advanced tests. The Expert level curriculum is heavily focused on business outcomes and specific target results – like expertise in a key area like security, automation, or other software testing activities. The Expert certification is meant for leaders of the field of software testing, those with eight or more years of experience. Its goals are to ensure consistent understanding and execution of proven techniques by seasoned test professionals.
Among ISTQB’s module clusters, Core module covers the entire software testing topic in broad but not in-depth manner. It is valid for any technology/ methodology/ application domain. The Agile module addresses testing practices specifically for the Agile SDLC. As for the Specialist modules, these are new in the ISTQB portfolio and address specific topics like usability, security and performance.
How certification helps testers
A certified software tester stands out for his/her improved skills, gets recognition in the company, stands a better chance of getting promotions and better job opportunities after becoming a part of the elite group of testers. A lot of big companies do some background check to see if a tester is certified. As a consultant, ISTQB software testing certification helps you outshine competition, whether you test software part-time or full-time.