There has been some excellent debate going on Twitter recently regarding ISTQB, its fascinating to follow, and clear to see the passion some testers / mangers have regarding the subject.
I took ISTQB (ISEB back then) foundation during my placement year at Lloyds TSB as a member of the “Regression Test Team”. I got an email one day from HR stating that ALL the placement students were getting some training, and that this training consisted of 3 days tuition followed by an exam, well I was overjoyed, free training on a placement year.
I did some quick research and saw that this course was focused on testing, and from looking at job adverts, which was my main interest at the time, being a year from graduating, it was EVERYWHERE, and on the majority of adverts was listed as required/mandatory for applicants, so I was happy, and really looking forward to it.
Looking back I should of been sceptical at the time, as I later discovered that ALL the placement students were attending the training, this was like 15 people, with 10 in software development and the rest with accounts and HR, yet everyone was doing the training, it was like the bank were just trying to say that all there staff were ‘certified’, it certainly wasn’t tailored to everyones needs, but obviously at the time as I said, it was free training, another line of the CV.
Well the training came around, and it was conducted by the least passionate person I have met, he introduced himself and handed us each a 150+ (cant remember exact number) page folder, and said turn to page 3, and then continued to read to us for 3 days…… the energy and drive in the room was non existent, wow it was dull, (especially having done RST recently with James) but I was reading, reading about testing, techniques and approaches, its hard to remember what else, as I have erased it all, but we will get to that bit, so I gave it my all, and tried to absorb it.
Then came the highly discussed exam, well I was bricking it, we were told if we failed we would have to resit at our own expense, but then to our surprise, he told us, I think, don’t hold me to this figure, that we needed 40/70 to pass, which is around 57% it might of even been less, and that it was multiple choice! which relieved the pressure. Well wouldn’t be much left to this post, if I didn’t pass, and I did pass, I would have sent myself back to school had I failed.
Jump forward a year, and I graduate with a 2:1 in Computing, and think what should I do now, I really enjoyed my placement year, I got into Automation and really enjoyed the daily diversity that came with testing, so lets contact them I thought, “sorry Richard, IT is being off-shored to India”, sad times.
So I applied to some graduate schemes like most do, but the competition was so intense, several rejections, couldn’t even get an interview, so I thought back to that day I heard I was doing ISEB, and remembered all those job adverts I saw, so I did the same, and started applying to testing jobs, well I got offered an interview for all I applied for, agents were like “I see you have done ISEB”, fantastic”, in the end I have a pick of testing jobs to chose from, so it became, I was a full time employed tester.
However in the last few years, I have developed into a strong aspiring tester, is this down to ISTQB, well partly it is, yes, oh the shock of some readers, but its not because of the reasons ISTQB will state, like this advert, far from it.
Its because they existed, I don’t know if there was others then, I certainly wasn’t aware of any, but I only spoke to people within Lloyds. They had some how embedded themselves into the large organisations, because as we all know they love spending money on certifications, and then small companies think, well the bigger guys are asking for and offering this training, we should do the same and hire those with it. It was like well he has completed ISEB Foundation therefore he can test, get him it.
So I have mixed feelings on ISTQB, would I be where I am without it, certainly not.
Do I use anything I learnt from completing the certification, yes, but definitely not as ISTQB intended, its dated, its dumbed down, it mocks the skills and ability testers really need, so how do I use it?
Well that information is absorbed in me, and therefore needs replacing with new in depth knowledge on how I should approach certain aspects of testing, its going to be a long process, but I will get there, especially with the help of the community.
Future of ISQTB? Well unfortunately some companies in the UK (not sure about rest of the world) will always ask for it, and you won’t get through the door without it, would you want to work for those companies, no, because your boss would likely be the ISTQB jockey you want to avoid. But don’t threat, as things are changing, its being challenged, and being challenged aggressively, will they change? probably not, don’t want to hurt the profit margins.
But there has been some really Mavericks in recent years in the testing world, I won’t name them as I will no doubt miss someone out, and still all new to me, and spawned from them are some incredible talents, who are continuing there efforts alongside them, who in turn are aspiring more testers, who are currently in or will eventually be in positions to recruit, and being one of them, the letters “ISTQB” won’t find there way onto my job adverts.
But if you reading this as someone who currently is looking for testing training, having just completed Rapid Software Testing, James Bach was my instructor, I can’t recommend it highly enough, do you get a certification, no, you don’t need one, will you be able to go and blow everyone’s mind by telling them how you think and approach testing, certainly, will you be inspired to continue to learn, certainly.
Also hearing excellent things about BBST, which I hope to complete over the coming years.
But also train yourself, read, join sites like Ministry of Testing, Software Testing Club and AST, join twitter and gain the ability to ask questions directly to some of these mavericks, and observe their debates / discussions, and also try and get yourself to some conferences, the larger ones can cost a fair bit, but they are also smaller ones like TestBash, and with these comes evening drinks, and there is a lot to be learnt in those evenings!
So I personally am glad it existed back then, as it got me where I am today, however companies need to realise its value, which is very little, and stop requesting or sending testers on it, the alternatives are far superior, and for a separate debate, what value do certifications hold anyway, especially ones so easy to obtain.