The ISTQB Expert Software Testing Certification (CTEL)

Published: 18th August 2010
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The ISTQB is currently developing a software testing certification beyond the ISTQB Advanced level, called the ISTQB Expert Level (CTEL). Although still in development as of the time of this writing (August 2010), the ISTQB has published enough information to allow us to begin to discuss the purpose, requirements, and structure of this emerging certification level.

Purpose of the ISTQB Expert Level

In general, the ISTQB Expert level is designed to allow candidates the ability to develop expertise related to specific areas of testing. It will follow a multi-module approach, the benefit of which is that candidates will not have to learn every module; they can simply focus on those modules that represent areas in which they seek specialization.

In terms of the overall ISTQB certification path, the ISTQB Foundation level (CTFL) covers the most basic, fundamental knowledge of software testing; the ISTQB Advanced level expands upon and increases the scope of this knowledge; and the Expert level then drills-down into narrower, more specialized areas of software testing.

ISTQB Expert Level Structure

As stated above, the ISTQB Expert (CTEL) certification will adopt a multi-module approach much like the ISTQB Advanced Level (which has 3 modules – test analyst, technical test analyst, and test manager). Although these modules are still under development, the ISTQB has stated that they will at least partially be derived from the chapters identified in the ISTQB Advanced syllabus. The modules will also be linked to specific software testing roles, such as test leader, test consultant, etc.

Here is the initial list of Expert level modules the ISTQB has identified as of August 2010:

• Test management (including risk management)

• Test design techniques

• Non-functional testing (such as security testing)

• Static testing (such as reviews and inspections)

• Test tools and automation

• Test process improvement

Each module will have its own syllabus & exam. Although the syllabi are still being developed, the ISTQB has stated that they will be less detailed than the syllabi at the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced levels because they will focus more on "what" instead of "how".

The Exam

The exams themselves will consist of essays likely encompassing scenario-based questions, partially mixed with select multiple-choice questions. A key goal of each exam will be to allow the candidate to demonstrate solid analytical skills, for example to evaluate a situation from several different perspectives to form a logical, holistic conclusion.

ISTQB Expert Level Requirements

Candidates can only take an Expert-level exam if they have earned an ISTQB Advanced level certification, or if they hold an ISEB Practitioner certification. The ISTQB is also recommending that participants have at least 7 years of practical testing experience. The specific requirements for each module will be identified in each module’s syllabus.

Final Thoughts

The ISTQB Expert level certification is a positive development for the industry, as it will create experts in very specialized areas of software testing. Although no specific date has been set, the CTEL certification will be available sometime in 2011. More details will be available at as they are published by the ISTQB.

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