Best Software Testing Certification: A Comparison

There are several software testing certifications available. Which is the best software testing certification for you and your company?

Below is a comparison of four software testing certifications using their entry level testing certification as a starting point:

  • Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) from ISTQB, the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB is the official board for ISTQB in the U.S.)
  • Certified in Testing Essentials (AT*Essentials) from AT*SQA  (note: AT*SQA is also the official exam ISTQB provider for ASTQB)
  • Certified Software Tester (CSTE) from Software Certifications (a division of the Quality Assurance Institute)
  • Certified Software Test Professional (CSTP) from International Institute for Software Testing (a division of Software Dimensions Consulting and Training, Inc.)

Below is the comparison as we seek to answer which is the best software testing certification for you.

How do the software testing certifications compare? Which is the best software testing certification?

Not for Profit or For Profit?

ISTQB is a not-for-profit organization. It’s official U.S. board, ASTQB (“ISTQB in the U.S.) is also a not-for-profit organization. AT*SQA is a not-for-profit organization as well. The other two certifications are from private, for-profit companies.

Volunteer Board for U.S.

In the U.S., the not-for-profit volunteer board is ASTQB, the American Software Testing Qualifications Board. AT*SQA’s not-for-profit volunteer board is headquartered in the U.S. but also has representatives from other countries. The other two certifications do not have volunteer boards because they are for-profit organizations. (Related note: See why you should take your ISTQB exam through ASTQB.)

Ranking Based on Number of Testing Certifications

It is estimated that ISTQB is by far the #1 software testing certification organization based on the number of certificates awarded. AT*SQA’s certification is relatively new, so numbers are not yet available.  The other two organizations no longer publicly disclose the number of certificates issued, but it is estimated that CSTE has more usage than CSTP. ISTQB reports more than 670,000 software testing certifications globally. It is estimated that CSTE has less than 20% of ISTQB’s industry usage, and CSTP has less than 5% of ISTQB’s industry usage.

Certification Course Sales and Required Fees

ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) does not sell training courses directly; instead, you may choose the education that works best for you, be it self-study or the use of a third-party training provider (ASTQB does accredit training courses offered by third parties in the U.S. to ensure quality if you do choose a training provider, but their use is not required). AT*SQA offers discounted education but it not required. The other two certification companies sell training directly. All organizations offer a free body of knowledge, but that from ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) and AT*SQA is much more comprehensive in size. ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) also offers a free glossary of software testing terms, as well as free sample exam questions and answers. Finally, ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) and AT*SQA are much lower in cost than the two for-profit organizations.

Recertification Requirement

ISTQB does not have a recertification requirement for the entry-level (Foundation) or advanced certifications. AT*SQA requires continuing education every three years. Both of the for-profit organizations require recertification every three years along with payment.

It should also be noted that ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) offers additional, free benefits for those certified through ASTQB. These include the free Advanced Level retake offer if you quality, the higher level Proficiency Distinction designation if you quality, free career information, local software quality sponsorships, podcasts, webinars, white papers, videos, and more. See the ASTQB software testing certification home page for a full list of software testing resources. See the reasons you should take your ISTQB exam through ASTQB.

You may also find it interesting to view the comparison of software testing certifications in a table format.

Note: The information used to create this comparison came from the public websites and press releases for CTFL, CSTE and CSTP. We cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of this information. Please contact ASTQB if you have any updated information.