Do you have a search and destroy mentality when it comes to software bugs? An ISTQB software testing certification could send you on a fulfilling career path.

According to the story, in 1946 computer scientist Grace Hopper was at the Harvard Computation Laboratory working on what would become the Harvard Mark II computer. During a test, something went wrong with the Mark II machine. After investigation, technicians discovered a dead moth that was trapped in a relay.

The insect was removed and recorded in a logbook, with the following notation written underneath:

“First real bug case discovered.”

The word “bug” was previously used by engineers to describe a failure of a machine or other device. The Harvard story and its successive tales, however, have led to the widespread adoption of the word in the computer industry, especially when it comes to programming errors in software.

Today, the task of finding software bugs belongs to software testers.

Software testers are IT professionals who use specialized tools and processes to locate and identify bugs in software, document bugs, and send their findings to the software development team so bugs can be fixed. . In a typical software company, software testers collaborate with programmers, technical writers, product managers, and regulatory officials to ensure the highest quality product is shipped to customers.

Many software vendors ask testers to provide feedback on the usability and functionality of the product they are testing. This role is often referred to as user advocate. Testers are always looking for bugs when acting as user advocates, but they also put themselves in the user’s shoes, trying to identify things that might confuse or irritate someone using the product.

The software tester is a demanding computer position. This requires rigorous attention to detail, a reasonable knowledge of software programming, excellent communication skills and (sometimes) an understanding of regulatory standards for software products used in certain industries such as healthcare or law enforcement .

A major IT certification program for software testers is offered by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB). This global program is administered in the United States by the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB). The ISTQB certification program has enjoyed remarkable success since its inception, with more than 400,000 certifications awarded to professionals in more than 100 countries.

ISTQB certifications for software testers are divided into three streams: Foundation, Advanced, and Expert.

ISTQB Foundation Level is intended for candidates who have undergone training in software testing and/or who have at least six months of industry experience. The Foundation Level Certification Exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, which candidates have one hour to answer. The pass mark for the exam is 65%. Passing the exam earns candidates the Certified Tester: Foundation Level (CTFL) certification.

A series of ISTQB Foundation level extensions are currently in development. One extension available is the Agile extension, which is intended for software testers working with a team using the Agile software development framework. The Agile Extension exam format and pass mark are the same as the Foundation Level exam.

Testers who have achieved CTFL certification may continue until ISTQB advanced level Track. The advanced level is recommended for testers with at least three years of industry experience. This course is divided into three certifications:

● Test analyst

● Technical Test Analyst

● Test manager

Test analysts focus more on software usability and risk analysis, rather than examining lines of code. Technical test analysts are more savvy with scripting and programming languages, and are comfortable diving deep into code to find bugs. Test Managers are testers who have the additional skills needed to manage strategies, teams and projects.

Software tester uses laptop outdoorsEach advanced level diploma has its own certification exam. All are multiple-choice and have time limits of two to three hours depending on the exam. Passing one of these exams allows candidates to earn the Certified Tester: Advanced Level (CTAL) certification.

CTAL certified testers can access the ISTQB Expert Level. This certification track is recommended for software testers who have at least seven years of professional experience. The expert-level track is divided into specialties that correspond to specific expert-level certifications.

Candidates who have obtained the CTAL Test Manager certificate can take the following expert level exams:

● Test management

● Improve the testing process

Candidates with the CTAL Technical Test Analyst certificate can take these expert-level exams:

● Engineering of test automation

Security testing

An expert level certification related to the CTAL Test Analyst Certificate is still under development at this time.

Expert level certification exams consist of both a multiple-choice exam and an essay component, which is quite unique for IT certifications. Passing an expert-level exam earns you—you guessed it—the Certified Tester: Expert Level (CTEL) certification.

Want to learn more about the ISTQB certification program for software testers? To verify this page at for more information.

Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Axlin is a freelance technology writer and knowledge management specialist based in Edmonton, Canada. His work has appeared in Que Publishing titles and on numerous tech blogs and websites. His professional writing site is


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