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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.