Should You Get That QA Certification?

With the job market how it is, many testers wonder: Should I get a QA certification?

Would it increase your chances of getting a job? Will it help you be more relevant?

Yeah it could. But I want to ask you about what the motivation is.

If the real motivation behind earning the cert is to learn more about the craft, I would say go for it.

Sometimes learning in a structured fashion works great for people. I’m not one of those people. If you are though, then you’ll probably benefit from a broad survey, and learning what kinds of things are in the testing world, in a particular order.

I’d also follow that by saying, never ever stop learning. Hopefully you already know that a tester never stops learning–the field just has too much to it to stop. But in case you didn’t: Don’t ever think that once you earn the cert that you’ve “arrived” or that you’re “done”. If anything, you’ve just started the journey. You’re done when you’re dead 🙂

So, cert or not, keep learning, keep experiencing, keep improving. 

But: if the motivation is to have a higher chance to get a job, I’m gonna say no. Don’t get the cert.

Here’s why:

Whenever a company has a job opening for a QA role, what they’re saying: we have business pain that only testers can solve.

If they have a requirement that candidates have certifications, sometimes it’s really because they need someone with that level of knowledge.

Many times too, though, it’s meant to weed people out. If they expect to have such a glut of candidates, they may have to filter out all the applications down to something manageable.

So instead of a certification, here’s a better approach: If you really want an edge over everybody else–even people that have certifications–focus hard, and practice at, self marketing

What do I mean? Well, if I had to choose between two candidates, and one of them was able to convince me that they could solve the business pain that caused the job opening, they would probably get the job.

It wouldn’t matter if the other person had every certification in the world. If I’m not sure they can help me, they’ll get passed over for someone who I think can.

And this is the case for any job you apply for.

That process–convincing an employer you can do the thing they need to have done–is self marketing.

And if you know how to market yourself, you’ll have an edge over everybody else out there–certified or not.

Why? Because when you can then you’ll be able to:

  • listen for certain patterns in the business pain the employer is having,
  • suggest possible solutions,
  • prove that you know what you’re talking about,
  • build relationships with professionals,
  • get people to equate your name with your skillset,
  • stand out as a problem solver,
  • be able to talk to literally anybody,
  • notice opportunities to start conversations cold, about other peoples’ challenges,
  • I had another bullet point here but I forgot what it was.

A lot of this will look like “hacking the game” in order to get the job.

It kind of is, and that’s ok.

When so many professionals in our field are the cliche socially awkward/poor communicator/just-need-a-job-to-pay-the-bills/low self confidence, those who can self market will really stand out.

They’ll be able to honestly convince an employer or client that they can do that job, and bring a lot of creative energy to the table as well.

There’s often more than one way to get a desired outcome. If you’re wondering whether to earn a certification or not, I hope this has challenged you to think about what the motivations are, and also to try a different angle to achieve those goals.

Thanks for reading,




2 thoughts on “Should You Get That QA Certification?

  1. There are QA Certifications?? You don’t hear about them up here in Boston, MA. I never met anyone with an ISTQB, and I have been a QA Engineer for 20 years. It was always the Devs that got the training, the certifications, the networking groups, the company investment and upper management support. It made us QA Engineer employees closer-knit on the job. Most QA Engineers in the era were History, English majors. Rare was a CS Major like myself. Everyone learned the same way — quickly on-the-job with each new job a “baptism by fire”.

    Thank you so much for the tips! I’ll share them with the Ministry of Testing – Boston!

    -T.J. Maher,


  2. Nice article I agree with your point (personally I don’t have any certification)

    But As someone that was doing lots of technical verification, I was always “asking people what did ISTQB gave you.” That was my personal survey and I have something like 100 answers, still too small sample for any statistics but i see some patterns.

    Mostly it got money – it was the easiest way to justify the demand for the rise.
    Another is a specification of Polish market lots of hr managers were requiring this. I had to fight the system to even get resumes of people without the cert.

    There is also another point Terminology, I think for newbies in the testing world actually forcing them to take ISTQB is the easiest way to get them up to speed on our specific terminlogy.

    I have few more points but it starts to sound as I am pro certification so I will better stop.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s