Tuesday, November 16, 2010

more on certs, more numbers

I noticed (thanks Twitterverse) that there was an interview with Rex Black over on the UTest blog.  In that interview he reveals a very interesting number:

"...the ISTQB has issued over 160,000 certifications in the last ten years."

Using the numbers from my previous post:  if we assume that there are about 3,000,000 software testers in the world right now, and if we issued 160,000 certifications right now, that would mean about 5 certifications for every 100 software testers.   

I would be willing to bet that there were about the same number of testers ten years ago:  Y2K was just over and the value of dedicated testers had been shown.   But as Alan Page and others have noted, there is a lot of turnover, a lot of churn, among those practicing software testing. 

So my numbers start to get a little sketchy here, I don't have anything to back them, so consider this a thought experiment:  as noted above, let's say that there were about 3 million testers a decade ago and there are still 3 million testers today.  Let's say half of today's testers have started since 2000.   This gives us a field of 4.5 million testers who could have acquired a certification in the last decade.  This makes for about 3 certified testers for every 100 possible certifications. 

I think it is an excellent bet that a significant fraction of those 160,000 certifications were issued in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.   Just to make it even, call it about 1/3, put 60,000 certs in those regions, leaving 100,000 for the rest of the world.  That brings us down to about 2 certs per 100 testers.  

But that still seems high to me.  I might have missed something.  Regardless, it still looks like a pretty small market, and I'd bet the market has been shrinking a lot with the rise of agile adoption and the economic downturn.  


halperinko said...

What about the ISEB certificates issued before and in parallel to ISTQB first years?
(Mainly in Europe)

There are also some other certifications mainly in the US.

And the ISTQB seems to gain speed, so these numbers say nothing regarding the future.

Kobi H.

Devon said...

Are the number of certifications increasing as time goes by or decreasing.
Agile may be on the rise, but that philosophy also encourages continued learning, and that may turn software testers to certification for lack of other courses. I'm not sure, I would just be interested to see if the number of certifications issued is growing or declining.

Dave McNulla said...

I see people in my organization getting certifications. I think the idea is about people 'learning good testing strategies and techniques'. I agree with James Bach about the syllabus being outdated, but I still think there is value to people learning this stuff. Just as long as we don't end up being star-bellied sneeches, what is the harm?

Personally, I decided to not get one even though by boss said he'd pay the $250 for it. I read Black's book, and found that I knew almost all of the ideas in it from past reading the books in the bibliography, attending conferences, and looking at magazines.

When I hire, I care about how much a person knows and how much they try to keep up with new ideas, not what their certification is (note: I have asked about that in the past, but it wasn't part of my decision process). When I interview for a job, I talk about the ideas that I can bring to the position, what I can do, and what I would like to try. Certs don't do that. and ideas without practice aren't that useful.

halperinko said...

BTW, Here in Israel, we have just celebrated over 2000 ISTQB certifications last week.
Out of a rather small market of ~10000 Testers, we have ~2160 who are certificated (by the end of 2010).
That's almost 25% of the market.
Add to that the fact that in the 90's some people already took a basic testing course but are not certified (for me it's just the same),
So we have a nice portion of trained testers (though maybe not enough)

TestWithUs said...
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Graeme Harvey said...

If the question of certification is raised in any interview that I'm the interviewee in, I actually make it a point to talk about why I've chosen NOT to be certified. This has tended to lead to good discussions, and helps prevent me from leaving the interview questioning whether I may not get the job due to my "lack of certification".

To be clear, I have never NOT been offered a position based on not having a certification.