Quality Assurance Certification: Options, Testing, and Careers

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Advance your QA career by learning about what professional quality assurance certification is, related quality management job roles, and salaries for these positions.

[Featured Image]:  QA Tester, wearing a red jacket, working on a laptop computer, reviewing information for a quality assurance certification.

Are you looking to advance your quality management career? Often an ideal starting point is earning a quality assurance certification. Learn what quality assurance certifications are, how to obtain them, the job titles you can pursue, and potential salaries with QA certification.

What are quality assurance certifications?

Quality assurance certifications are a way to get training and prepare to work in positions related to quality assurance in various industries. You can pursue different quality certification programs, from entry-level to expert.

Types of quality assurance certifications available

Quality assurance professionals work in nearly every industry; some certifications are industry-specific. Examples of some of the sectors in which you can find QA certifications include:

  • Software

  • Hospitality

  • Customer service

  • Farming and ranching

  • Health care

  • Information technology

  • Medical devices

  • Food safety

  • Automotive

  • Manufacturing

Software quality assurance Professional Certificates to consider

Software quality assurance professionals are in high demand, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 25 percent increase in jobs between 2021 and 2031 [1]. That is much faster than the average of 5 percent. 

The following are quality assurance Professional Certificates to consider to advance your career as a software QA professional in various industries. Earn these certifications to show you are well-qualified in the quality assurance field. 

ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board)

The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) is a leading software testing certification organization. It provides an extensive portfolio of certifications that develop, extend, and validate software testing skills. This board is considered an internationally accepted standard for software testing qualifications. It offers foundational, advanced, and expert skill levels and specialist certifications.

Various providers, including the American Software Testing Qualifications Board, offer testing for this certification. You can take preparation courses online, or you can prepare on your own. The time it takes to prepare for your exam depends on the level and topic but can vary from two to ten weeks of study, two to three hours a day, or two to five full days if you take a prep course.

To pursue ISTQB certification, you must begin with the foundation-level Certified Tester certification, as it is a prerequisite for all other exams. Choose the certificates you want to earn based on your skill level, current position, or the position you hope to advance to on your career path. 

Foundation-level ISTQB certifications

Prerequisites: Everyone can take the Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL). Before taking the Agile Tester Foundation Level (CTFL-AT), you must pass the CTFL exam.

Preparation time: Self-study 3–4 weeks at 2–3 hours per day; course prep three full days

  • Certified Tester (CTFL): Verifies your foundational knowledge in software testing and is for testers, test consultants, software developers, and other software professionals, as well as anyone who wants to show their basic understanding of software testing

  • Agile Tester (CTFL-AT): Affirms you have essential software testing skills to participate in Agile projects and is for software professionals working in Agile environments or who plan to

Advanced-level ISTQB certifications

Prerequisites: Before taking any advanced-level exams, you must pass the CTFL exam and have significant industry experience. To take the advanced-level Agile exams, you must also pass the CTFL-AT first.

Preparation time: Self-study 2–6 weeks at 2–3 hours per day; course prep 2–4 full days

  • Technical Test Analyst (CTAL-TTA): Validates your technical software testing skills, such as white box testing, testing automation, and static and dynamic analysis, and is for you if you are involved in software testing

  • Test Analyst (CTAL-TA): Demonstrates your skills as a test analyst across the software development lifecycle and is for you if you are working in test analysis or test design

  • Test Manager (CTAL-TM): This shows you have the skills and knowledge needed to manage all testing phases throughout the software development lifecycle and is for you if you have advanced in your quality assurance career and want to aspire to a management role.

  • Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT): Measures your technical software testing skills while using the Agile project management approach, including test automation, deployment and delivery, and Agile techniques, and is for you if you're a software tester working in Agile environments or aspire to be 

  • Agile Test Leadership at Scale (CTAL-ATLaS): Verifies your advanced knowledge and skills in organizing and improving quality and testing using Lean and Agile processes and is intended for quality coaches, members of an Agile team, project managers, test managers, and others in leadership positions who understand Agile testing or whose organization is moving towards Agile procedures

Expert-level ISTQB certifications

Prerequisites: To take the test management expert certifications, you must pass the CTFL exam and Advanced Test Manager exam, have the sufficient practical experience and have five years of industry experience.

Preparation time: Self-study 7–10 weeks at 2–3 hours per day

  • Test Management (CTEL-TM): To receive full certification in Test Management at the expert level, you must pass the exams for the following three certifications. These are for you if you have already advanced in your software testing career and would like to show your expertise in a specific area:

    • Managing the Test Team (CTEL-TM-MTT): Acknowledges your management skills in building, developing, and leading software testing teams

    • Operational Test Management (CTEL-TM-OTM): Validates your ability to manage other managers and teams as well as your skills in project risk management, reporting and interpreting test results, and moderating effective meetings

    • Strategic Test Management (CTEL-TM-SM): Ensures you can manage external and internal relationships, evaluate efficiency and effectiveness, and align organizational goals with test policies and strategies.

  • Improving Test Processes (CTEL-ITP): To receive full CTEL-ITP certification, you must achieve the following certifications. Like the test management certifications, these are for you if you have already advanced in your software testing career and would like to show your expertise in a specific area: 

    • Assessing Test Processes (CTEL-ITP-ATP): Verifies your skills in evaluating and advising on the test process, including choosing and implementing the right approach

    • Implementing Test Process Improvement (CTEL-ITP-ITPI): Validates your ability to improve test processes at the organizational level.

Specialist ISTQB certifications

Prerequisites: You must first pass the CTFL exam to take any specialty certification exams.

Preparation time: Self-study 2–6 weeks at 2–3 hours per day; course prep 2–4 full days 

ISTQB specialty certifications focus on quality assurance skills for specific roles or fields. Choose the certificate that matches your current or aspired position:

  • Acceptance Testing (CT-AcT)

  • AI Testing (CT-AI)

  • Automotive Software Testing (CT-AuT)

  • Gambling Industry Tester (CT-GT)

  • Game Testing (CT-GaMe)

  • Mobile Application Testing (CT-MAT)

  • Model-Based Tester (CT-MBT)

  • Performance Testing (CT-PT)

  • Security Tester (CT-ST)

  • Test Automation Engineer (CT-TAE)

  • Usability Testing (CT-UT)

ISCB (International Software Certification Board)

The ISCB was established in 1980 to provide standards for software quality assurance professionals and has been offering certification credentials since 1990. The board certifies individuals in software quality assurance,  business analysis, and testing. Quality certifications include Certified Software Tester (CSTE), Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA), Certified Manager of Software Quality (CMSQ), and Certified Associate in Software Quality (CASQ).

Certified Software Tester (CSTE)

Earning the Certified Software Tester (CSTE) certification validates your professional knowledge and skills in quality within the IT industry. To qualify for this certification exam, you should have been working in the information services field within the 18 months leading up to the exam and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Four-year degree plus two years of experience in information services

  • Three-year degree plus three years of experience in information services

  • Two-year degree plus four years of experience in information services

  • Six years of experience in information services 

Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA)

This certification confirms your expertise as a quality analyst in the software field.  Skills tested include quality principles and concepts, leadership, assessments, planning, internal control and security, outsourcing, work processes, metrics and measurement, and quality control practices. To qualify for the exam, you must meet one of the criteria outlined for the CSTE. 

Certified Associate in Software Quality (CASQ)

The CASQ certification shows that you have a solid understanding of the underlying QA practices and principles. Prerequisites include one of the following:

  • Three- or four-year degree

  • Two-year degree plus one year of experience in the information services field

  • Three years of experience in the information services field

Certified Manager of Software Quality (CMSQ)

This certification shows you have the competency, knowledge, and management skills to work as a software QA manager. To register for the CMSQ certification exam, you must currently work in the software quality assurance field and meet one of the following prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree and four years of experience in the software quality assurance field

  • Associate degree and six years of experience in the software quality assurance field

  • Eight years of experience in the software quality assurance field

Read more: What Is a Bachelor’s Degree? Requirements, Costs, and More

Obtaining QA certifications can help you advance in your quality assurance career. Quality assurance technician, quality control analyst, and quality assurance engineer are three common career paths in QA. 

Quality assurance technician 

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $40,313 [2]

As a quality assurance technician, you would be responsible for testing products while they are still in the production phase to ensure they meet the standards set forth by your company. You would design testing plans, participate in resolving product issues, work as part of a team, and report on your inspection results.

Quality assurance analyst

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $62,471 [3]

A QA analyst is a step up from a QA technician. You are generally responsible for collecting and analyzing the data gathered by technicians and reporting it to a quality manager. Using this data, you will problem-solve and make recommendations for improvements. 

Quality assurance engineer

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $80,343 [4]

A QA engineer typically works in the IT industry and is responsible for testing software products throughout development. You will be looking for bugs and potential issues with the software so you can help solve them before the software goes to market.

Prepare for a Professional Certificate online

The entire process of earning a Professional Certificate can be done online. Find out the skills you'll be tested on for the certification exam you are pursuing, and seek out study material or courses to help you gain the knowledge you need. Besides prep classes offered by the certification boards, consider coursework, such as Software Testing and Automation Specialization from the University of Minnesota or Information Systems Auditing, Controls and Assurance from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on Coursera.



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Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-1." Accessed February 27, 2023.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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