News about software testing, software testers and certification
Exam information
Request information
Subscribe to the
free e-newsletter
ISTQB exam syllabi
ISTQB glossary
List of Certified Testers


2014 Issue #1

Should your next career step be "test manager," "test analyst," or "technical test analyst"?
An experienced tester gives you important career advice below.

Articles in this issue:

Which Software Testing Career Path and Certification is Right for You?

ASTQB is Promoting YOU

Build Your Connections and Career

Gain Recognition for Yourself

Gain Recognition for Your Company

Are You a Veteran? Use the GI Bill for ASTQB Certification

News and Offers from ASTQB Accredited Course Providers


Which Software Testing Career Path and Certification is Right for You?

By Judy McKay, CTAL Full, CTEL-TM Full

Are you wondering which ISTQB certification is right for you? The following is a short explanation of the various certifications and the way you might want to proceed based on your career goals. The tricky thing in our industry is the constant change. The skills of today may or may not be marketable tomorrow, so while you’re thinking about what you want to do, you should also consider what you need to do to be able to get or retain the job you want.

Foundation Level – This is where you need to start. This is the gateway certification for all the other ISTQB certifications. This level is designed for beginners all the way up to those who have been in the industry for awhile (or maybe a long while) and need to brush up their skills and update their terminology. One of the fastest ways to fail in an interview is to use the wrong terms for testing processes, documents and techniques. Organizations tend to adopt their own terminology and it helps to have a base of “standard” terminology, particularly before you venture out for an interview.

The Foundation Level is in the process of being expanded to include several extension modules. Right now, the agile extension is due to be available in early 2014 and work is starting on the model-based testing extension. These are separate certifications you can get that are “added on” to your Foundation Level certification.

Advanced Level – This is where you need to start making decisions. What do you like to do? What do you want to do? Where are the most opportunities?

Advanced Level – Test Analyst – If you are not very technically minded, and would rather work with the user, know the business application and apply your skills more for analysis than programming, you want to pursue the Advanced Test Analyst certification. This certification is designed for the strong tester who has a deep understanding of the business domain and the needs of the user. You’ll learn about designing good test documentation, conducting effective reviews, and participating in risk analysis sessions (particularly to help determine the impact of a realized risk to the business user). You’ll learn about how you can contribute the test information (input data, action, expected results) to the test automation effort and you’ll learn about usability testing. You’ll also build upon the test techniques you learned at the Foundation Level and will learn new techniques such as domain analysis and cause-effect graphing, as well as how to test using use cases and user stories. You’ll learn more about defect-based and experience-based techniques so you’ll know how to pick an appropriate defect taxonomy and how to implement traceable and reproducible exploratory and checklist-based testing. Let’s not forget process improvement as well. You’ll learn what to track in your defect management to be sure you have the information to figure out what could be improved in your process and how you can do it. This certification is designed for the person who wants to spend their time testing, not programming or delving into the code or troubleshooting technical issues.

The path for the Advanced Test Analyst at the Expert Level will include a further specialization in usability testing and further development of testing techniques. At this point, these new syllabi are being discussed but will not be available until at least 2015.

Advanced Level – Technical Test Analyst – OK, admit it, you really like to play in the code. You like to review it, program tests to test it and create test automation and tools. If this is describing you, you definitely need to be looking at the Advanced Technical Test Analyst certification. This certification is designed for the technically minded individual who wants to and is capable of programming, both in scripting languages (e.g., python) as well as standard programming languages (e.g., java). You’ll learn how to approach white-box testing to find the difficult problems that are often missed by the black-box testing that is usually done by the Test Analyst. You will learn strong testing techniques that will allow you to systematically test decision logic, APIs and code paths. You will also learn about static and dynamic analysis techniques and tools (stamp out those memory leaks!). You will learn about testing for the technical quality characteristics such as efficiency (performance), security, reliability, maintainability, and portability. You’ll learn how to do effective code and architectural reviews. And, you’ll learn about tools – using tools, making tools, and a little about selecting the right tools. After all, you wouldn’t want to accidentally get a tool that creates code mutants (really, that’s a legitimate tool usage) when you really wanted a simulator. And did I mention automation? You will learn the basis for automation that will be built on at the Expert Level.

The Advanced Technical Test Analyst certification is the gateway to the Expert Level for Test Automation (Engineering) and Security. The Test Automation (Engineering) syllabus and the Security syllabus and their associated certifications are likely to be available in 2014 or early 2015.

Advanced Test Manager – Those who can, do, and those who can’t, manage? Well, that’s not usually a successful formula for a test manager. If you are a test manager or want to be one, and you are willing to learn all the necessary techniques and practices to be successful, then this certification is the one for you. You will learn all about test planning, monitoring and controlling for projects but you will also learn about establishing test strategies and policies that can change the course of testing for the organization. You will learn about how to effectively manage, both people and projects, and will learn the importance and application of metrics and estimation techniques. You will learn your role in reviews. You will learn how to effectively manage defects and how to focus on improving the test process. You will also learn the importance and proper usage of tools and be able to set realistic expectations regarding tool usage. So, if you like telling people what to do, and they tend to listen to you, this is probably the right certification for you. However, that said, remember that technical people respect technical people, so rather than just getting the Advanced Test Manager certification, you should think about also getting at least the Advanced Test Analyst certification as well.

The Advanced Test Manager certification is the gateway to the Expert Levels for Improving the Test Process and Test Management. The Expert Level Improving the Test Process certification focuses on various techniques and models that are used for test process improvement. This provides a good coverage of the most popular models and provides information regarding how to approach an improvement effort to net an effective result. The Expert Level Test Management certification focuses on honing those strategic, operational and personnel skills to make you the best test manager you can be. There is significant discussion in the syllabus about how to be sure your department is performing well and is receiving the accolades it deserves. There is also realistic information regarding managing people effectively and dealing with difficult situations.

The Advanced Test Manager certification is also a pre-requisite for the management part of the Expert Level Test Automation certification. This focuses on how to effectively manage an automation project, including getting the right tools, resources, budget and timeframe. This syllabus should be available in late 2014 or early 2015.

Which Way to Go?

It’s entirely up to you. As you can see, there are several ways you can go with the certification path. And remember, for example, you might not want to get the Advanced Technical Test Analyst certification if you are a test manager, but you can always read the free syllabus and learn something even without a big time investment. All the ISTQB syllabi are available for download. They make for interesting reading, even if you are not planning the particular career path that is indicated. Our industry is constantly changing and new syllabi are always in the works. If you plan to head for the Expert Level, it’s a good idea to start planning your path now as that may determine which Advanced certification(s) you will need. Keep an eye on the ISTQB web site for new additions to the syllabus family. And remember to train, not just for your current job, but for the next job you want to get. Right now, the job market is hot for those with the skills of the Advanced Technical Test Analyst. There is always a need for good test managers. Note the emphasis on the word “good”. And, many companies want Advanced Test Analyst’s as well because of the need for black-box testing and strong domain knowledge. Right now, the biggest growth in in the Advanced Technical Test Analyst area, but that can change quickly. Get your training now, so you’ll be ready.

It’s unlikely that we will run out of work anytime in the future because, as long as there are developers, there will be a need for testers. It’s built in job security! Plan and train for your future. It’s looking bright!

Now what do I do?

That's easy. Start by reviewing the "ISTQB Certification Steps / Frequently Asked Questions" page. It will get you started on your way to software testing career success! If you would like to meet Judy in person, you'll find her at the ASTQB Software Testing Conference in San Francisco in March.

Judy McKay, CTAL-Full, CTEL-TM Full has spent the last 20+ years working in the high tech industry with particular focus on software quality assurance and software testing. She has managed departments encompassing all aspects of the software lifecycle including requirements design and analysis, software development, database design, software quality assurance, software testing, technical support, professional services, configuration management, technical publications and software licensing. Her career has spanned across commercial software companies, aerospace, foreign-owned R&D, networking and various Internet companies. Judy has been conducting training seminars nationwide for ten years. Her courses are based on the real world application of practical data. She is the author of two books. "Managing the Test People" discusses building and maintaining an effective quality assurance organization. "A Software Test Engineer's Handbook" is a soup to nuts testing manual that also serves as a preparation for the ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst and Advanced Technical Test Analyst Certification Exams. In addition to being the current president of the ASTQB, Judy also has a "real job" in test management/quality architecture as well as a sideline consulting business.


ASTQB is Promoting YOU

If people start asking you about your ISTQB Certification, it may be the result of a new ASTQB campaign promoting the benefits of using ISTQB Certified software testers!

The new campaign promoting your certification is in Better Software magazine,,, and dozens of other technology websites. You will also see ASTQB's message in countless Google Adwords and Bing/Yahoo Ads.

This is just another benefit of being certified by ASTQB and having your name displayed in the list of ISTQB Certified Software Testers on the ASTQB website. If you aren't certified, or know someone who isn't certified, this is the perfect time do so.


Build Your Connections and Career in San Francisco at the ASTQB Conference

Take your career to new heights by building connections and new skills at the ASTQB Software Testing Conference in San Francisco.

The ASTQB Software Testing Conference this March 24-26, 2014 will give you:

  • Groundbreaking tutorials and seminars that will build your software testing skills.
  • Thought-provoking workshops that will improve your testing effectiveness.
  • A spirit of community that will enhance your career potential.

As a reminder, we are offering ISTQB Certification exams for all levels, including any of the Expert Test Manager exams. The exams will take place on Monday, March 24th at 6 p.m. Contact to register.

Registration for the conference closes soon, so register today. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of San Francisco while you build your connections and career!


Gain Recognition for Yourself

The more people know about your certification, the more valuable it becomes. Add an informative link to the ASTQB website at from your resume, blog, website, resume and LinkedIn profile. Then "like" us on Facebook, and add us to your Google+ circle right now. The more people learn about ASTQB, the more people will understand how good you are!

Here is a great idea to share with your managers: Xpanxion recognizes its ISTQB Certified testers on its wall of fame. It's time for you to be recognized at your company, too!


Gain Recognition for Your Company

Join companies such as Platinum Partner Blizzard Entertainment in the the ISTQB Partner Program. The ISTQB Partner Program recognizes organizations around the world that have supported the professional development of their software testing staff through ISTQB certification. The Program comprises four levels of partnership (Silver, Gold, Platinum and Global) and the partnership level of an organization is determined through the number of certification points it has accumulated, which relate to the ISTQB Certificates held by staff.

The major benefits of the ISTQB Partner Program include:

  • Permission to use the ISTQB Partnership Program logo (and other permitted marketing material) on your organization's website
  • Recognition of your organization's testing professionalism, both in the local and international market
  • Official Recognition Letter, indicating identity/location, validity and level
  • Listing of your organization on ISTQB website
  • Listing of your organization on the ASTQB website
  • Special privileges in relation to ISTQB related events and conferences
  • Eligibility to receive the alpha version of new ISTQB Syllabi with the opportunity to contribute to their review
  • Honorary membership of the exclusive "ISTQB Partner Forum" which will allow Partners to receive news on the ISTQB Roadmap.

Learn more and apply for the ISTQB Partner Program today.


Are You a Veteran? Use the GI Bill for ASTQB Certification

ASTQB’s ISTQB exams are approved for student reimbursement for veterans. Specifically, the GI Bill will reimburse you for ASTQB’s CTFL, CTAL-TA, CTAL-TM and CTAL-TTA exams at their applicable fees. ASTQB will be happy to provide proof of payment and exam results to any student veterans who need this paperwork to apply for the reimbursement. Simply send your request to ASTQB headquarters.


Your ISTQB Certification Benefits Keep Growing

The rapid growth of ISTQB Certification in the U.S. and globally is not surprising, as the benefits of ISTQB Certification are well known. For software testers, it demonstrates your knowledge, provides a professional pathway, and makes you global-ready. For companies and test managers, it can help to build efficiency, reduce your costs, and speed delivery.

However, the benefits of ISTQB Certification don't stop there, especially when you receive your certification through ASTQB!

Congratulations on making the brilliant choice to become ISTQB Certified through ASTQB! It keeps getting better every day.


News and Offers from ASTQB Accredited Course Providers

SQE Training: Share the Love with BOGO Half Off - Register for our eSoftware Tester Certification-Foundation Level Course, and get the second eLearning course half off! Click here for full details. Restrictions apply. Looking for classroom instruction? Our full Spring 2014 schedule is posted here.

Rice Consulting Services: Rice Consulting Services: Rice Consulting Services is offering a special bonus on Foundation Level e-learning team pricing. Enroll five or more people in pre-recorded e-learning CTFL training and get one extra registration free, including exams and textbooks. Use code "ISTQB14" at when purchasing the 5-person enrollment.

RBCS: RBCS’ ISTQB Advanced Level Training Week! Attending the ASTQB Conference in San Francisco March 24-26, 2014? Come a few days early and become ISTQB Advanced Level Test Manager (March 17-21) or Advanced Level Technical Test Analyst (March 19-21) certified while you are there. Learn more about RBCS’ Advanced Level Test Manager and Advanced Level Technical Test Analyst certification courses and register today! Enter the code ADVCERTWEEK13 in the promo code field in your cart and receive a 15% discount (expires February 28, 2014).

ALP International (ALPI): Exclusive ALPI offer to ASTQB Newsletter subscribers: Get your team Certified at ALPI in 2014 and SAVE! Foundation Level: February 24 – 26; Advanced Level/Test Manager: Mar 17 – 21. Send THREE, the fourth goes for FREE! Contact our Training & Education team for details at or by calling (301) 654-9200 ext. 403. Promotion Expires Feb. 28, 2014.


What Would You Like to Learn About?
As always, we welcome your feedback and criticism. Let us know what we can do to help make you and your company better at software testing at

About ISTQB Certification News
ISTQB Certification News is a free software testing newsletter from ASTQB providing news, analysis, and interviews for the software tester community. Feel free to forward to colleagues or ask them to subscribe at:

Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies.

Copyright 2014 American Software Testing Qualifications Board, Inc. (ASTQB) 12000 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Suite 110 Tampa, FL 33618 USA Phone 813.319.0890 Fax 813.968.3597

If you want to change your address, use this link: