This post appeared fist at http://zenandtheartofautomatedtesting.eu/ on 10. Oct. 2010.
Since I’ll take down that site, the article is relocated.
At the Agile Testing Days: Alternatives to Certifications
A session of the Open Space Day (facilitated by Brett L. Schuchert) at the Agile Testing Days dealt with alternatives to certifications. Elisabeth Hendrickson tweeted a link to the summary of this session already.
Apart from answering the question “What is the value of certifications?” and “Do we need something other than certificated at all?” (neither of which I’ll discuss here), there’s one important question: What are ways to demonstrate your testing knowledge other than certificates?
That’s what this article is about.
I’ll elaborate on some of the alternatives we discussed. Some of them here were brought up by me, others were not. So, if you disagree on a topic you’ve brought up, please let me know1.
Novice – Apprentice – Journeyman – Master
I like the idea of learning from practitioners who have a better understanding and deeper experience in the field I like to learn about. This is a central idea of Software Craftmanship. The idea here is that at each stage you’d learn (mostly) from others one stage ahead of you. This enhances almost everyone in learning by teaching, certainly a very powerful way to learn and internalise material you’ve just learned yourself.
Find someone who’s willing to help you to learn about the topic you chose and who’s experienced.
Note, this is not as much about finding someone to actually teach you2, but help you teach yourself.
Participation in open source projects (as testers)
There are lots of open source projects out there. Whether it’s automated regression checks (or tests, in case you don’t follow Michael Bolton’s terminology) exhaustive exploratory testing or other ways of testing (or checking): You’re probably using some open source software already, and improving this software by providing your testing feedback is a Good Thing.
You help to develop software you’re using, making your own life better3 and you demonstrate your testing practice.
By following other testers on Twitter (and may be the #testing hashtag, too) and joining the discussion is another way. Even by ‘just’ following others and reading the linked to blog articles alone I learned a lot. However, joining the discussion at your pace4 will give result in a significantly richer learning experience.
1 Of course I wouldn’t mind hearing about your agreement as well. And in case you do agree; I’d like to hear from you, too.
2 Experienced practitioners happen to be usually rather busy. However they’re also happy to help you to help yourself.
3 Also known as “Eating your own dog food”
4 Some tweet at a remarkably high frequency, that’s not easy to follow at times. Don’t panic.