ISTQB vs ISQI (What is the difference?)
If you are keen to get certified as a software tester, then no doubt you have heard of ISTQB and ISQI. On some resources, their name is used interchangeably. However, they are linked but not the same at all. Let me explain…
What is the difference between ISTQB and ISQI? ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) is a non-profit organization that creates testing courses. ISQI (International Software Quality Institue) organize and facilitate the exams and courses provided by the ISTQB.
Now you know the difference between these two acronyms and organizations, let me explain more about the ISQI, how they work with ISTQB, what other courses they offer if they actually provide their own courses and more.
What is ISQI?
ISQI (International Software Quality Institute) is a company which actually organizes/sells examinations and test courses. However, they are not the company that actually put the courses together.
As I will reveal later on in this article they work very closely with organizations such as the ISTQB to provide an examination and course material for their customers around the world.
So, what is the ISTQB?
The acronym itself stands for the International Software Testing Qualifications Board. Essentially this non-profit organization compiles/creates software testing courses.
They work closely with companies such as ISQI, who sell and facilitate the actual exams and administer the courses that they put together.
The courses that are compiled by the ISTQB rely on hundreds of professional volunteers worldwide. This is to ensure that the standards remain high and that the courses are of high quality.
Does the ISQI also offer its own training courses?
No, they only offer training courses that have been provided by other organizations. In fact, they actually promote this as a benefit.
They say this improves the validity of their courses and shows that they have no bias towards the actual courses that they are selling.
They are merely partners of the organizations that put together the courses rather than actually writing the courses themselves, are you with me?
How does ISQI work with the ISTQB?
The ISQI work with 14 different ISTQB boards around the world. This covers up to 33 different countries.
They also have over 5000 different physical venues where they provide testing examination facilities.
For example, if you would prefer to do an ISTQB Foundation level certification. And, you want to do it online, you can go to one of their test centers.
These test centers will provide a controlled environment to make sure that there is no cheating and also to improve a standard test for every participant.
At these centers, an individual will take the ISTQB course on the ISQI venue. This is how they partner up with organizations like ISTQB.
ISQI have a number of different categories of Interest. Not only software testing. In fact, they refer to these different categories as “Special Interest Groups (SIGs)”.
An example of these categories/SIGS include:
- Project Management
- Mobile Apps
- Test Data Management
- and more.
So what types of qualifications do ISQI offer?
They offer many different courses, across many different categories/SIGS. As discussed earlier in this article, this can be from project management to mobile app testing. But, for your benefit I’ll give you an example of a few of the courses that they have in software testing:
Istqb certified tester – Model-Based Testing
This is more of an advanced level course which is aimed at extending some of these standard practices that are covered in the ISTQB foundation level (Click Here to see the benefits of the ISTQB certification ) such as equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, and decision tables.
Ideally, you should have the foundation level before you move onto this course.
Certified tester Foundation level
This is the bread-and-butter entry-level Foundation level certification (CFTL) which I have discussed on this site in many different articles. This is one of the most popular and recognized certifications in software testing across the world.
Certified tester advanced level test manager
This course is also based at an advanced level. To even qualify for this you need to have done the foundation level certification.
However, in addition to this, you need to have at least a minimum of 18 months of real-world testing experience in the industry to be considered for this course.
It covers all areas of software test management, planning, validation, estimation and a number of core competencies that are required to be a test manager.
This is a good one to have on your CV. But, also remember that nothing beats experience. So, while this is great on the CV, most employers will always be looking for your years of experience as a test manager rather than a certification to prove you know what to do.
As I have been in the software testing industry for nearly 20 years now, I speak from experience of actually doing a test management role. And I have seen exactly what requirements that companies are looking for.
Can I take the ISTQB exam online? Yes, you can. But, you can’t just log onto a website and do it on your mobile or in your home. You need to go to an approved test center.
This is to ensure the quality of the exam is upheld. And, to make sure that no cheating is done. Also, keep the circumstances standard for every participant.
The chances are you can find one of these test centers local to you. This is because they have over 5000 test centers around the world.
Does the ISTQB certification expire? No, it doesn’t expire. Once you have done the certification it is yours for life. Funnily enough, I remember being asked this in a recent contract within the last few years.
After looking into it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it does not have an expiry date. Simply because at that time I had the qualification for nearly 10 years and was worried I missed an expiration period 😉
However, there are some testing certifications such as the CSTP, which do have an expiry date. For example, this one will expire after 3 years.
After these 3 years, unfortunately, you need to re-sit the exam to prove the validity of your certification. This is to ensure that you are up-to-date on all of the latest syllabus updates and changes in the industry.
So, fortunately, this is not required for the ISTQB Foundation level exam.
Is there any negative marking in the ISTQB exam? No, there is no negative marking actually. It is a simple multiple choice marking system. Just to clarify, I do not mean the exam is simple. Its complexity is subjective to each individuals skills, experience, etc.
In total there is forty multiple choice question. You need a score of 65% or more to pass the test. The exam typically takes an hour. But is extended for countries such as Canada that may have English as their second language (They also speak French there).
How do I become a software tester without a degree? You can get in with work experience and a qualification such as an ISTQB CTFL.
In all honesty, most employers will be looking for graduates with an IT related degree. Also, ideally they look for high degree passing grade (in the UK 2:1 or above).
However, this is not always necessary. If you have managed to get experience doing the actual job, that will be much more favored than just a degree.
But how can I have experience without getting the qualifications first? I know it sounds like a catch-22 (no way to win). But I have personally worked with people, that have gone from entry level testers to test management positions with 5 years, without any prior testing experience.
Also worked with people who have had no experience or degree and still doing well in testing. The key is taking a different angle into the position. Maybe you start as a call centre rep, then move to IT support, then into testing, are you with me?
System knowledge in a company is highly valued. Once you establish yourself there for a few years you have experience as a tester and can move onto more lucrative testing positions.