Sponsor Love: Should QA Testers be Certified?

It has been a good quarter for crowdsourcing start up uTest:

  • Expanded software testing marketplace by 30% quarter-over-quarter
  • Acquired 37 new customers, and increased testing community to 18,000
  • Added application profiling and discussion threads to platform
  • Complete website redesign, adding a human face to crowdsourced testing
  • Won five prestigious awards, incl. “Best New Co. of 2009” (Stevies) & Gartner “Cool Vendor”

But while uTest is growing, debate over the need to certify testers is intensifying in the community forums. As a registered tester in the uTest community, I get invited to several projects a month. For example, I was recently invited to a mobile testing project from a high profile client, offering over $20 per verified bug. Should it be ‘first come, first served’ or should certified testers get a priority?

uTest has adopted a neutral stance on the issue, but valid claims are made on both sides of the debate:

In Favor of QA Certification

Quoting testing guru James Bach:

“Most people who do testing for a living donít take classes or read books. They don’t go to conferences. They are not community activists….Yet they may well be able to test software effectively. There is little outreach to such testers by the testing activists. The experience and creativity of most testers is therefore not being harnessed in any systematic way by people making up certification programs.”

“I am aware of no tester certification program that actually guarantees or even indicates the quality of the tester. It has not been my experience that certified testers, of any stripe, perform any better in my testing classes (which include hands-on testing exercises) than non-certified testers.”

Against QA Certification

In the other side, Blogger Michael Bolton (no pun intended) suggests an alternative in his presentation “Why am I not (yet) certified

In short, there isn’t a single test that is accepted as the standard certification:

  • Does not test a tester’s ability to remember disputed definitions or commonly misunderstood terms, but instead does test a tester’s ability to recognize and deal with potential problems with ambiguity.
  • Does not ask testers merely to name practices or techniques from a memorized catalog, but instead does ask for paradigmatic examples of practices or techniques that might be useful in some context.
  • Does not accept or promote testing as mere validation, verification, and confirming behavior, but instead does support the idea that testing is fundamentally about investigation, discovery, and dispelling illusions.

Have an opinion in this debate? Leave a comment or visit the uTest Forums to weigh in. You are welcome to learn more about uTest’s QA services and crowdsourcing in general, by downloading the free white paper: Crowdsourcing: Eight ways to launch higher quality applications and get to market fast with the crowd.

Eze Vidra
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Eze Vidra

Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote
Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Ezewas a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.
Eze Vidra
Follow me

Eze Vidra

Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Eze was a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.

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