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Certification — this controversial topic continues to pop up and be discussed in columns and blogs.
James Bach, long an opponent of certification, recently had an interesting experience with a representative of ASTQB (American Software Testing Qualifications Board). He asked her about what it takes to receive a testing certification from her organization and the benefits of certification. The dialog, which James provides in his blog, is hysterical and illustrates the ignorance people in that organization have about testers and testing. Here’s a sample:
James: Do you need any experience to get certified?
Lois: No, you just have to pass the exam.
James: What are the benefits of certification?
Lois: Just Because. There are almost 90,000 certified testers. It’s fast becoming the norm. In some countries you can’t get a job unless you have our certification.
Project managers have had similar complaints about certifications for their profession. Bas de Baar wrote about his experiences in his column “Finding work as a PM: Value of certification debatable.” He says experience counts for far more than what a person is able to remember from a book, and he finds it unfair that job applicants aren’t given a second look if they don’t have the certification.
In Kevin Beaver’s recent column “Does certification really matter?” Kevin agrees that it’s wrong to simply memorize a book in order to get certified. Certification should mean more than that. Certified professionals should be able to “execute in real-world scenarios,” he says.
And while getting certified is a marketing tactic, it’s often necessary to move ahead in your career, Kevin says. You can disagree all you want, but employers look for those certifications when making hiring decisions.
If certifications are necessary, then the certification bodies need to make sure the tests cover actual experience. And make sure what is being taught in certification training sessions is at the appropriate level.
Some other thoughts: If company and personal budgets get tighter in light of the economic problems we’re dealing with, will certification and training get pushed to the back burner? Will fewer certified people mean employers will have to look more carefully at job applicants? Will certifications have more value because they’ll be given to people who are really committed to their profession?