ISTQB CTAL Advanced Level Certifications � What do they mean to the Testers?
A tag of “Advanced Level Certification” with your name really doesn’t guarantee anything, but logically indicate that you are an extra wise person.
In the testing trade we have many experts who are not certified. Views of one such renowned testing guru – James Bach are;
(1) “When you make a name for yourself, your name trumps any “certification” you might also have”.
(2) “Certification exams do not measure the quality of a tester. Until they do, they merely facilitate discriminatory hiring practices”.
Thus regardless of whether one should have a certification or not, if someone has a screaming tag of “Advanced Certified” attached with his name he is expected to have following differentiating
professional abilities that would justify his being an Advanced Tester.
A) Obvious acquisition of basic understanding of testing, having successfully cleared the ISTQB foundation level certification exam.
B) Display of high standard of testing professionalism.
C) Well demonstrated theoretical as well as practical testing skills as per high global standards.
D) Sufficient skill & experience of handling testing projects.
E) Ability to take up leadership positions like that of test manager, test analyst, or technical test analyst in a project.
F) Awareness of complex test management concepts. However they keep on learning & improving their abilities even better.
G) Ability to do right things at the right times to effectively test the software products.
While talking about Advanced level certifications according to “Certified Tester Advanced Level � CTAL” syllabus issued in 2007, ISTQB specifies following two types of test analysts according to different roles.
1) Domain Test Analyst or simply Test Analyst: The ISTQB Advanced syllabus shortens the name “Domain Test Analyst” to simple term “Test Analyst”. This certification is for persons having more business-oriented approach compared to the technical functions.
2) Technical Test Analyst: This certification is for persons having an aptitude for technical functions with a strong technical background like software development or software testing.
Common abilities expected out of both types of above mentioned Test Analysts
a) Should be able to support the test manager in formulating different strategies for testing.
b) Should be able to define the testing tasks in a structured way while implementing the decided strategies.
c) Should be able to carry out detailed analysis on a system with a view to identify appropriate test conditions.
d) Should be able to implement different techniques to achieve the desired testing goals.
e) Should be able to prepare and execute the desired testing related activities.
f) Should be able to judge when the defined testing criteria have been achieved.
g) Should be able to provide report on the progress in a brief & systematic way.
h) Should be able to provide support to activities like evaluations and reviews alongwith necessary evidences collected during testing.
j) Should be able to select & implement tools appropriate to different testing requirements.
Now let us see specific roles prescribed for these two Advanced Level Professionals
1) Test Analysts: The test analyst is expected to perform all tasks of a tester prescribed in the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus. However, the test analyst adds a sort of specialty to the role of a tester.
Generally “Test Analysts” are the persons having following abilities in addition to the common abilities described above.
a) Good expertise of basic principles of test management & possess sound understanding of test manager’s role including thorough knowledge of various types of risks associated with different projects.
b) Good ability to focus on functional, domain-specific software characteristics such as functionality and usability.
c) Good ability to implement different types of specification based testing techniques. In this aspect they have better expertise than technical test analysts.
d) Good ability to implement different types of review techniques on domain specific documents like requirements & use cases.
2) Technical Test Analyst: The “Technical Test Analysts” too are expected to possess the similar generic abilities as prescribed for the “Test Analysts”, however they are expected to apply the testing abilities in slightly different testing contexts.
The “Technical Test Analysts” are expected to have following abilities.
a) Should be able to focus on technical characteristics of software like its reliability and efficiency.
b) Should be able to proficiently use structure-based testing techniques like decision testing, specification based techniques like equivalence partitioning etc..
c) Should be able to carry out static and dynamic analysis.
d) Should be able to use reviewing techniques on technical documents like architectural designs & the code etc.
e) Should be able to effectively implement the test automation.
f) Should be able to use efficiency testing tools for testing performance & for analysis.