Two Possible Uses for Certifications

I'm not a big fan of body-of-knowledge based certifications. Testing to someone to detect if they've learned the words in books is not adequate to determine actual skill on the job. (Note that there are skill-based certifications, generally from vendors, that appear to be quite useful at detecting if the person is capable of performing a particular kind of work.)

But this week, I've heard of two uses for certifications that may be worth the time people spend studying:

  • Using a certification course of study to increase knowledge of functional skills, and then working with a manager, applying those skills to work. A talented test manager told me he uses this technique to help his testers (smart people who were not trained as testers) learn how to perform different kinds of testing and when to apply those techniques.
  • Developing the necessary BOK (Bodies of Knowledge) for specific industries or products and helping people work through those BOKs to show competence as an outsource vendor. An outsource vendor asked my opinion on the variety of tester certifications and when I explained I thought knowledge-based certifications missed the application-of-knowledge part, I suggested he develop his BOKs and certify his testers himself, based on what they've done, not just what they've learned.

Both of these managers are considering the application of knowledge, not just the acquisition of knowledge — a useful technique for certification.

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