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Please obtain the latest information from the certification organizations listed herein if you are interested in certification, as requirements, fees or other details may have changed since this article was written.

Professional certification has long been a way to advance one’s career independent of industry and political constraints. Here’s information about specific certification opportunities that exist for software testers to further education and increase expertise—a useful combination when it comes to competing for advancement, landing a contract or negotiating a higher salary.

Certification programs currently are offered by the American Society of Quality (ASQ - formerly ASQC), the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP), and Software Certifications, administered by Quality Assurance Institute (QAI).

All programs share common aspects. Each involves eligibility requirements composed of verifiable on-the-job experience and adhering to a prescribed code of ethics. Some experience can be waived for higher education degree transcripts. Once eligibility requirements are met, candidates must pay application fees and successfully complete an examination sponsored by the certifying organization. All certifications require maintenance in the form of continuing education and, in some cases, a maintenance fee.

ASQ Certifications

The ASQ offers three certifications, the Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE), the Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), and the Certified Quality Improvement Associate (CQIA.)

Both the CQA and the CSQE require eight years of on-the-job experience in one or more of the areas including Software Quality Management, and Software Inspection, Testing, Verification and Validation. At least three years of experience must be in a decision-making position. From two to five years may be waived for academic work including degree transcripts. The CQIA, designed for individuals involved in quality improvement projects but who do not necessarily come from traditional quality areas, requires an Associate's Degree or two years of experience.

Candidates also must demonstrate professionalism either through signed verifications of professional work, registration as a professional engineer, or membership in a professional organization.

The certification application fee for the CQA or CSQE is $180 for ASQ members, $285 for non-members. The fee for the CQIA is $155 for ASQ members, $260 for non-members. Once application has been accepted by ASQ, candidates must complete the exam within 18 months. The four-hour exams, which consist of multiple-choice questions, are held twice each year in early June and December at local ASQ sections or headquarters. No supporting materials are offered by ASQ headquarters; some local ASQ sections may offer study materials.

ASQ requires 18 re-certification units (RUs) every three years. Units are awarded for publishing, serving as a Quality Press reviewer, participating in the US Standard Group on QEDS (Quality Management, Environmental Management, Dependability and Statistics), and participating in monthly chat events sponsored by ASQNet.org. Recertification also can be achieved by retaking the exam.

ICCP Certification

The Certified Computing Professional (CCP) designation offered by ICCP requires at least 48 months of full-time (or part-time equivalent) direct experience in computer-based information systems. Acceptable forms of experience include data processing, programming, management and teaching computer-based information systems. Up to 24 months may be waived for academic degrees. Transcripts and signed work verification documents are required.

Candidates have up to 36 months to complete the required exams, which consist of a Core Exam and two Specialty Exams. There are 11 specialty exams, with software quality assurance and software testing techniques included in the Software Engineering track. Other specialties include Microcomputing and Networks, Management, Systems Development and Business Information Systems.

The cost for CCP exams is $195 for the Core Exam and $195 each for the Specialty Exams. Candidates must successfully complete the three exams within 36 months. The computer-based exams are available at over 250 test centers and are available throughout the year. A complete line of exam study materials are available. The ICCP offers a Study Guide for each exam, and Bird Publications offers an interactive audio cassette/workbook audio-visual review package for the Core and two Specialty Exams for $429.

Continued CCP designation requires 120 Continuing Education credits during each 3-year cycle and an annual maintenance fee. Completing the CCP exam qualifies for 25 college credit hours through the American Council on Education (ACE). Any person may take one or more of the exams on a stand-alone basis to earn a Proficiency Certificate for that specialty.

Software Certifications

Software Certifications, administered by Quality Assurance Institute, makes available the Certified Software Test Engineer (CSTE) and the Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA) certifications. Eligibility for both certifications involves either a bachelor’s degree, six years of experience, or an associate's degree and two years of experience.

Candidates must pass a four-part exam and supply a verifiable character reference. All candidates must subscribe to the Software Certifications code of ethics.

The cost is $250 for the CSTE or the CSQA. Exams are held quarterly and at QAI conferences. No supporting materials or study guides are available.

QAI certification maintenance requires 120 Continuing Professional Education credits and a $100 fee every three years. CPE credits are given for seminars, conferences, formal training programs, academic work, publishing papers and articles, and other related professional achievements.


Distinguish yourself with a professional certification and be on your way to a career that is more personally and financially rewarding. Contact one of the following organizations:

507 W. Edgerton Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207

Bird Publications
HC76-2465 Scriver Bluff Road
Garden Valley, ID 83622

Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals
2200 E. Devon, Suite 247
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Software Certifications
Quality Assurance Institute
7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Suite 350
Orlando, FL 32819-7273

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