I know many readers of my blog would suggest I’m a hater of certifications for Testers.
That’s simply not true. Despite my ardent fight against them I am pragmatic enough to realise that getting a job often requires getting a certification. And putting a roof over your head often trumps principles and ideals.
I also believe that a certification course, delivered by a competent tutor who has bucket loads of skills and experience, can be very valuable.
I just don’t like what they have come to symbolise in the market place. I don’t like how you DO NEED A CERTIFICATE to get a job (in most cases).
Where did it all go wrong?
I’m not here to bash Certification schemes. Use your own judgment and experience on whether you think they give you insights and learnings or not.
Instead I’m going to ask you a question:
Are certifications still relevant?
- I don’t believe they have succeeded in making people competent Testers. This is evident from the number of certified people on forums and LinkedIn asking “What is Testing?” or “Tell me how many Tests I should have for X feature!” or “why is testing so boring”.
- I don’t believe they have succeeded in creating a universal language with which to talk about Testing. This is evident from the fact most Testers don’t know what “action word driven testing” is or what a “Software Failure Mode and Effect Analysis” is OR the fact that I call it a Test Case you call it a Test Script. The big question here is “Do most Testers care outside of their own company and context?”.
- I don’t believe they have succeeded in promoting the value of software testing to organisations and business. I still come in to contact with a vast array of companies who don’t test, don’t appreciate testing and don’t understand what value testing can bring.
So are they still relevant?
There was a time before the Internet when you had very few places to go to obtain Testing knowledge, training or awareness. When I started out I went to the British Computer Society, a few well known books and the ISEB foundation. The ISEB crowd certified me. I still kept Testing as I had before. I just felt slightly more hire-able.
Only when I reached out to the wider community online did I find a place to soak up information and ideas about testing. I started sharing ideas. I started to meet people who thought the same way that I did. I started to feel like Testing was actually interesting. I started to find people who didn’t talk about standards, didn’t speak in platitudes and marketing pitches and didn’t push certifications at me from all angles.
When access to information is restricted or impossible those that hold the information have the power. If you wanted that information you had to pay. If you wanted to see what the “industry” thought was a good standard, you had to pay to find out, and then pay even more to be accepted.
Social networks and the “digital revolution” has made that information (and a much broader selection of ideas too) available to the masses. Having to pay for access to information is becoming rare.
Yet we still continue to pay for certifications.
We’re no longer paying for the content; almost all of that is available online, for free.
We are no longer paying for the training as it’s possible to sit the course and pass without in person training. (There are also a vast selection of excellent paid and free courses available online and in person outside of the certification schemes.)
I believe the masses* are paying for the right to say “I have a certificate!!!!!”
In a sea of people all shouting “I have a certificate!!!!!” why would anyone pick you?
* There are some people I meet who sit the certification courses as just one part of their continued learning…not the only part of their learning.