8 Best Software Testing Certifications Based on Your Experience Level

Certifications For QA Testing Professionals – Let’s Find Which Suits You

In last topic we discussed – Is it worth getting a QA Software Testing certification. Certification is very much important if we want to have a holistic growth in our professional life.

Certification not only adds to your profile but also acts as a catalyst to boost your knowledge and changes your way to think “the other way”. When implemented correctly, helps to organize better and helps to think strategically and have long term vision.

which qa testing certification to get

Learning should never be stopped.

Keeping this thought in my mind, here I am trying to jot down the certifications available for QA professionals right from the beginning of the career to higher experience. But we should keep in mind that the certification you do should be well mapped to your experience level.

Please note that these are just recommendations. The choice of selecting a certification / course is based on one’s personal aspirations.

Level #1 Beginner (0-5 Year experience)

1) Institute: QAI ( Quality Assurance Institute – Florida – USA)

Certification: CAST – Certified Associate In Software Testing

CAST logo

Eligibility: One of the below:

  • 3 Year or 4 Year degree from an accredited college
  • 2 Year degree in college with 1 year of experience.
  • 3 Year experience in IT.

Fee: $100

How to Apply: To apply for the CAST certification candidates must first login to their Customer Portal account. If new to the Portal then need to create one by clicking on the Register Now link, and then the Register as a New User tab.

Link to RegisterRegister here

How to Prepare: Once you register and pay the fee, you would receive the ” Software Testing Body of Knowledge (STBOK) for CAST (367 pages) book. That should be sufficient to prepare for the exam.

Exam Format: 100 multiple choice questions in 75 minutes time

Pass%: 70%

2) Institute: ISTQB (International software testing qualification board)

Certification: ISTQB – Foundation Level

ISTQB - Foundation Level logo

Eligibility:  None

Fee: Rs 4500 – India (Approx.), US $250 – For USA

How to apply: Connect with your National or Regional Board for information on Exam Providers, exam dates, applicable fees and booking information.

If there are more than 10 candidates from the same company for the exam, then the exam can be conducted in the company by ITB.

Link to register: Register here

How to Prepare: Click here to get the study material.

Recommended: We have 100% sure pass study guide on ISTQB foundation level exam. It contains 800+ practice questions, 200+ premium questions, and many eBooks based on ISTQB exam syllabus. If you are interested in getting this study guide please check this page. It’s a premium study guide.

Exam Format: 40 multiple choice question in 60 minutes

Pass%: 65%

Level #2 – Intermediate (5 – 8 Years’ Experience)

#1) Institute: QAI ( Quality Assurance Institute – Florida – USA)

Certification: CSTE – (Certified Software Test Engineer)

CSTE logo

Eligibility: One of the below:

  • A 4-year degree from accredited college-level institution & 2 years’ experience in the information services field
  • A 3-year degree from accredited college-level institution & 3 years’ experience in the information services field
  • A 2-year degree from accredited college-level institution & 4 years’ experience in the information services field
  • Six years’ experience in the information services field

AND

Are working, or have worked at any time within the prior 18 months, in the field within covered by the certification designation.

Fee: $350 – Includes fee and pdf format book; $420 – Includes fee, Book, and CD

How to apply: To apply for the CSTE certification candidates must first login to their Customer Portal account. If new to the Portal then need to create one by clicking on the Register Now link, and then the Register as a New User tab.

Link to register:  Register here

How to Prepare:  CBOK (Common Body of Knowledge) book is sufficient to prepare for the exam. Read the book thoroughly and take up some mock tests available on internet to prepare for the exam.

Exam Format: Exam is divided into 2 parts:
100 Multiple choice questions in 75 minutes; 12 essay type questions in 75 minutes.

Pass%: 70% which is average of both the parts.

#2) Institute: HP

Certification: HP HP0-M102 for UFT version 12.0

HP HP0-M102

Fee: $350 approx.

How to apply: You need to have HP Learner ID.

Create an account with PearsonVUE. Once you submit the form, you need to schedule your exam through Schedule Proctored Exam link. You would find the details of the cost and language of the exam and need to select date, time and up to 3 centers to give the exam.

Link to register:  Check this link for getting learners Id; and this link for creating account with PearsonVUE.

How to Prepare:  Self-study, practice and taking up the mock exam.

Exam Format: Total 69 questions of multiple choice, drag-and-drop, and point and click

Pass%: 75%

Level #3 –  Advance Level (8 – 11 Years Experience) – If Aspiring for a Test Architect kind of a role

Institute:  ISTQB (International software testing qualification board)

------------

Certification:  ISTQB – Advanced Level – Test Analyst, ISTQB – Advanced Level – Technical test Analyst

Eligibility: Foundation level certification/score card. AND

Any one from below:

  • For Degree holders in computer science or related fields, you need 24 months of testing experience if you want to take 2 sub modules and 36 months of experience is mandatory if you want to take all the three sub modules.
  • For non-bachelor degree in computer science, 60 months of experience

Fee: India – Rs-4500 approx. for each of the sub paper; USA- $250 for each of the sub paper

How to apply: You need to find your exam provider and freshly enroll yourself in the ISTQB site for the advance module. The enrollment is same as that for the foundation level.

  • Click here to download the syllabus for Test Analyst
  • Click here to download the syllabus for Technical Test Analyst

Link to register:  For Indian board register here or go through this link.
Check these links for US board and For UK board.

How to Prepare:  Study material + self-study and knowledge gained through experience would all combine to prepare for the exam

Exam Format: Total 65 multiple choice questions in 180 minutes. For Technical test Analyst – Total 45 multiple choice questions in 120 minutes.

Pass%: 75%

Level #4 – Advance Level (8 – 11 Years Experience) – If Aspiring for a Test Manager kind of a role

Institute:  ISTQB (International software testing qualification board)

Certification: ISTQB – Advanced Level – Test Manager

ISTQB - Advanced Level

Eligibility:  Foundation level certification/score card. AND

Any one from below:

  • For Degree holders in computer science or related fields, you need 24 months of testing experience if you want to take 2 sub modules and 36 months of experience is mandatory if you want to take all the three sub modules.
  • For non bachelor degree in computer science, 60 months of experience

Fee: India – Rs-4500 approx. for each of the sub paper; USA- $250 for each of the sub paper

How to apply: You need to find your exam provider and freshly enroll yourself in the ISTQB site for the advance module. The enrollment is same as that for the foundation level.

How to Prepare:  Study material + self-study and knowledge gained through experience would all combine to prepare for the exam

Click here to download the material.

Link to register:  For Indian board or go through this link.
For US board and For UK board.

Exam Format: Total 65 multiple choice questions in 180 minutes

Pass%: 75%

Level #5 – (Expert Level11+ years) If aspiring for  Delivery manager – QA  / OA Leaders kind of a role

Institute:  ISTQB (International software testing qualification board)

Certification: ISTQB – Expert LevelTest Manager

Divided into 3 sub-modules:

  • Strategic management
  • Operational test management
  • Managing test team

ISTQB – Expert Level – Improving the testing process

Divided into 2 sub-modules

  • Assessing test process
  • Implementing test process improvement.

Eligibility:  Foundation level certification/score card.

  • Advanced certificate depending upon the expert module desired
  • Minimum 5 years of testing experience.
  • Minimum 2 years of experience in the selected Expert level

Fee: US $375 for each exam

How to apply: You need to find your exam provider and freshly enroll yourself in the ISTQB site for the advance module. The enrollment is same as that for the foundation level.

Link to register: For Indian board or go through this link.
For US board register here and for UK board here.

How to Prepare:  Study material + self-study, referenced books, and knowledge gained through experience would all combine to prepare for the exam.

Click here for Syllabus.

Exam Format:

  • 25 multiple type questions in 45 minutes
  • 2 out of 3 Essay type questions in 90 minutes

Click here for more details.

Pass%: 75%

Conclusion

The learning does not stop here. Post expert level, one can opt for PMP (Project Management Professional) certification or / and move to Agile certifications like CSM (Certified Scrum Master) / CSPO (Certified Product Owner).

After completing your CSM certification, you can continue your learning by moving on to next level which is CSP (Certified Scrum Professional) and gradually towards Agile Coach or Trainer.

As I have already discussed before, whatever certification you do, it should map to your experience. Though you become eligible for many advance / expert level certification at an initial stage of the career, but merely doing the certification would not guarantee better growth, both in terms of personal learning and professional aspirations.

For example, in spite of having a Test manager certification from ISTQB , organizations wont prefer to give you role and designation of QA manager if you have only 5 years of experience. Similarly, a PMP certified professional with 5 -6 years of experience would not fit to perform a project manager kind of a role. Hence, one should be really careful to choose a certification.

Please see that the recommendations and thoughts made by me are all based on personal experience, and observations and may have disparity in opinions.

Author: This certification guide is written by STH team member Shilpa Roy.

If you still have any question about pursuing your certification, feel free to to post it in comments below.

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26 comments ↓

#1 Partap Singh

Once again, Very impressively explained.

Thank You Vijay and Shilpa Roy.

#2 Chetan M

wow what a certification guide. thanks to the team sth

#3 Kajgul

Very imp. article.. This help me to understand all testing certification and their value at one place.
Good Keep it up.

#4 sourabh p

Thats a good information but is all the courses available in mumbai(india)

#5 Samrat

Although the post is informative but the way PMP, CSM and other Agile related certificated is described here is questionable …

Specially “Post Expert Level ” PMP and CSM .. no way .. Anyone can go for CSM and any other Agile related Certifications & for that there is no need to go for Outdated Certifications from ISTQB or QAI.. Going forward Certifications from ISTQB would be of no benefits because they teach sequential method of Development and the need of the time is being Agile.

Regards,
Samrat

#6 Noel

Wow… Very impressive, I really gain from your advice, God bless u guys.

#7 Noel

Hello samrat,
Since you said certificate from ISTQB would be no longer benefits, what advice would you give to new people like us that just started learning QA?

#8 Shilpa Roy

Thanks everyone!!
@Samrat- yes you are right, the world is moving towards Agile. But the certifications which are provided by ISTQB or QAI, are all QA concepts and lays the foundations on which testing is done. And its very important that your foundation is is rock solid. I believe that if your foundation is rock solid, you can transform in environment of testing whether it is Agile or Non Agile. I myself is a Certified Scrum Master and have worked in both Agile and Non Agile projects and have seen and experienced the change which I have undergone after doing the certifications.

Yes, as far as eligibility is concerned, one need not have to wait till 11 years to do CSM / PMP. You can do it in 5 years. But as I have mentioned in my post – the certification should map your experience- and this is based on my experience.

#9 Seetha

Thanks Vijay and Shilpa Roy for this useful post.

I have 10 Yrs of exp as a QA tester and doing QA lead activities. Last month I did PSM 1 certification.since I was working in an agile project for 2 years. Now I am preparing for PMP. Since I am looking to move on my carrier to next level. Is PSM right choice? Please guide me. Thanks

#10 Jatin

Thanks Shilpa for great article. I have 2.10+ years of exp and currently hold ISTQB CTFL certificate. I was not sure which certification to do but now I have a better idea.

@Samrat.. ISTQB has new Agile Ext Certificate. Check out the below link
http://istqb.in/index.php/istqb-foundation-2/2016-02-20-11-40-41

@Shilpa..What are your views on the Agile Tester extension certificate from ISTQB? Should it be attempted?

#11 Johan

Taking an ISTQB class / certification will not make anyone a better tester. You will learn a lot of testing terminology but you will not learn any testing.

Much better is do the three day Rapid Software Testing (taught by James Bach or Michel Balton)
http://www.satisfice.com/info_rst.shtml
You will not get a “certificate” but it’s the best hands on testing training you can get anywhere.

Another very good training is the Black Box Software Testing course (BBST) http://testingeducation.org/BBST/
and it’s possible to attende on-line e.g.
http://bbst.info/?page_id=14

#12 Shilpa Roy

@ Seetha – PSM would demonstrate your knowledge as a Scrum master. Now here are 2 choices:- If you want to continue your carrier / of have aspirations to move to Agile – continue with your advance PSM levels. But if you want to go for higher level in QA discipline, Go for Test manager certifications and eventually move towards PMP.

#13 Damayanti Rathore

Really a great article. I am a beginner and doing automation testing. May i know if for automation there are any other certification available or same certification hierarchy applys there also.

#14 Wayne

I did not have any testing experience and passed ISTQB Foundation and Test Analyst. I would not worry about how many years you have worked in the field. Just study hard for the exam. It helped me to get a job. Best of luck.

#15 Abhresh

Hi,

I am from a Non-technical background, I have done MBA but not interested in going into it further and want to be a Automation testing expert and did a Selenium automation testing course from an local Institute with certificate of the institute.. I want to know which would be a recognized certification that would be helpful for me in getting a job in a good MNC on a good package?

#16 Lisa Boden

An extra, non-advertised benefit that came out of me getting my ISTQB certification is the sharing and networking of testing ideas and concepts from other testers and test managers. I did not experience this prior to working to get certified and then wanting to learn even more on my own. Thanks for the tips.

#17 roshni

Hi,
As i have done ISTQB and CP_BAT.I want to do some certification for furtre.As i am one year experience now.Can you please suggest me what are all the certification can be done for automation?

#18 Ralf Ulrich

Hi, I would like to add BBST courses by Caner and RST courses by Bach
Er, Ralf

#19 Lavanya

Hi,

I have 12 years of experience in softwaretesting and currently working as a ETL test lead. I want to grow as test manager or a test consultant role. Please suggest best certification to do apart from ISTQB advanced levels as I didn’t do ISTQB any levels so far. Is PMP suitable for testing professionals. Suggest any other quick relevant certification if exists.

#20 Magdy Hanna

Any reason we are leaving out those certifications offered by the International Institute for Software Testing (testinginstitute.com? there are 12 different certifications that address every level of experience and every role in software testing. These certifications are different from all other certifications in the sense that they are education based NOT exam based.

#21 Ruby

Hi,

I had a question on certification. I have approx. 10years experience in software testing. I have not done any previous level certifications as mentioned in the above article. Now If I want to do certification which is appropriate for my experience level – As per the above article it seems like I need to write the previous certifications to become eligible for the current level certifications. Please confirm .

#22 Rajan

Dear Vijay and Shilpa Roy,

Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation about certifications related to Testing. It will be very useful to choose the right certifications.

#23 Amar

Hi Shilpa,
I have 5 years of experience as a QA Engineer and want to do a certification. Which certification would be better? Also, I have a fair idea about the Agile methodology and Scrum. Should I go for ISTQB foundation level. My organisation has put certification as a part of my PLP. Please guide me.

#24 moneek

Hi Shilpa,

I have 9+ years exp , and currently i am working as a PM.
I am interested in CSPO. Please guide me if i need to do PMP and CSM also in order to reach the CSPO ?

#25 manish

Hi Shilpa,

i have 6+ years exp as a software tester, i am to achieve testing certification and also aspire to be a BA.
please guide me which certification would be best for me as on today.

#26 Senthi

Hi, I am a fresher and I’m jobless. I have interest in software testing. I am learning software testing online. Which software testing exam is suitable for me? please advice. Thank you.

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