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The Future of ISEB and ISTQB Software Testing Certifications

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The Future of ISEB and ISTQB Software Testing Certifications

The purpose of this article is to discuss the potential impact of the BCS’ recent agreement to work more closely with the UK Testing Board (UKTB). The March 2010 press release communicating this agreement is somewhat ambiguous because its exact impact on the future structure of ISEB and ISTQB software testing certifications is not yet precisely defined. However, it is possible to read between the lines and subsequently project how everything will likely shake out.

Agreement Overview

The agreement states that the BCS and UKTB will now work more closely together to promote and support software testing accreditation internationally. The agreement also states that the UKTB will become the primary supplier for the BCS Foundation and Advanced level certifications, in accordance with global UKTB criteria.

Additionally, an ISTQB Expert certification will be created for those wishing to move beyond the 3 modules of the ISTQB Advanced certification. It appears as though these changes are scheduled to happen by March 2011, at which time the UK-specific ISEB Practitioner certifications (Practitioner in Test Analysis and Practitioner in Test Management) will no longer be offered.

Analysis of the Agreement

The agreement essentially means that ISEB certifications will ultimately be merged into the ISTQB certification path to enable a single, unified software testing certification path globally.

This is already the case at the Foundation level, where passing either the ISEB Foundation or ISTQB Foundation (CTFL) exam offers dual certification in both. Now, it appears as though this will expand into other certification levels as well. This makes sense, as the consolidation will simplify the process by providing a unified testing vocabulary, as well as reducing the confusion associated with having multiple certification paths to choose from.

Impact of the Agreement

If you are considering becoming certified but have not yet started the process, this announcement means that you should dive right into the ISTQB certification path and earn your CTFL / ISTQB Foundation certificate. Similarly, if you have already started down this certification path, this merger should not have any impact. However, if you are currently pursuing your ISEB certification path, your future direction may be impacted by this announcement.

If you have already earned your ISEB Foundation certificate, the next step would be to earn your ISEB Intermediate certification. This is because once the certifications are aligned, the ISEB Intermediate accreditation will serve as a bridge between the 2 certification paths.

Thus, once you earn your ISEB Intermediate certification, you will have the option to earn one or both ISEB Practitioner certifications, or move to the ISTQB certification path and pursue one or more of the 3 ISTQB Advanced level modules.

The good news is that ISEB certifications will continue to remain valid even after the alignment is consummated. The only thing to note here is that if your next step is to take one or both of the ISEB Practitioner exams, you must do it before this level is phased out in March 2011.


The alignment of the BCS and UKTB software testing certification requirements means that ISTQB will become the long-term global certification standard, beginning sometime in 2011. Although ISEB certifications will still be valid and recognized, going forward any new certification candidates should focus on the ISTQB certification path, which encompasses the CTFL / ISTQB Foundation, ISTQB Advanced (3 modules), and ISTQB Expert certifications.

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