About Certifications

I was listening to talk radio on the way home from work last night, and the topic of discussion was the recent crane accident a few miles from Microsoft in Bellevue. The focus of the discussion was on the capability of the crane operator, and one of the hosts kept asking if the operator was "certified." He was convinced that because there wasn't a certification program for crane operators that the operator wasn't qualified to operate the crane.

I almost called in to comment, but fortunately, a few trained crane operators were up to the task, and convinced the host that, although the operator wasn't "certified", that he had been sufficiently educated through required training programs, and that lack of operator training wasn't the cause of the accident.

The conversation got me thinking about testing certifications. Up front, I'll tell you that I have zero testing certifications - I have, however, had a lot of training on the subject of testing (on the job, seminars / conferences, and a lot of reading). How do I compare with certified testers? I bet some know more about testing than I do, and some know less. A certification doesn't make you more qualified to do something - the preparation for the certification is where the knowledge is potentially gained. A testing certification doesn't guarantee you a job or pay raise. In fact, a computer science degree doesn't even guarantee you that. What matters in any job is your ability to apply the knowledge you have to effectively accomplish work.

I certainly have nothing against certification programs, but they are a situation where you get out what you put in. If you study the bok (body of knowledge) with the goal of passing a multiple choice test, your certification is pretty much worthless. However, if you study the bok with a mindset toward applying the principles to your own software testing work, you will probably gain a breadth of knowledge that you can apply throughout your career.

Great testers can be certified...or not. What matters is that you are passionate about the subject, are open to trying new ideas, and are able to draw from a large toolbox of testing techniques and methodologies.