Comparison of Software Testing Certifications

How does ISTQB software tester certification compare to other tester certifications?

Based on comments from software testers and their managers, we know:

But what are the fundamental differences between the first levels of each of these software tester certifications?  This table details some of the differences between CTFL, CSTE and CSTP:

First Level of CertificationCertified Tester, Foundation Level (CTFL)Certified Software Tester (CSTE)Certified Software Test
Professional (CSTP)
Company/Organization Providing CertificationInternational Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)Software Certifications (a division of the Quality Assurance Institute)International Institute for Software Testing (a division of Software Dimensions Consulting and Training, Inc.)
U.S. Volunteer BoardAmerican Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB)N/AN/A
Type of OrganizationNot for ProfitPrivate – For-ProfitPrivate – For-Profit
Number of certified individuals for all levels of certificationApproximately 500,000 (CTFL and CTAL; as of July 2017)Approximately 60,000 (CSTE and CSQA; estimated based on 35,000 as of October 2008 – numbers are not typically announced publicly)Approximately 3,000 (CSTP and CTM; as of August 2011 – numbers are not typically announced publicly)
Education required to be taken from company/organization providing certification?NoNoYes
Sells training courses for their certification?NoYesYes
Provides free syllabus/body of knowledge and glossary?Free 76 page syllabus and free 43 page glossaryFree 10 page body of knowledgeFree 1 page body of knowledge
Required Fees$150 to $250.00$350.00 to $420.00Cost of training + $120 graduation fee. Cost of training is approximately $5,500 for all 10 days of training if courses are attended in a public setting and it goes down to approximately $2,400 if courses are held at your company site.
Recertification Required for First Level?No Yes – every 3 yearsYes – every 3 years
Additional Levels of Certification AvailableMany – See Testing Career PathAdvanced (ASTE) Master (MSTE)Certified Test Manager (CTM)

Note:  The information used to create this table came from the public websites and press releases for CTFL, CSTE and CSTP as of April 2010.  We cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of this information. Please contact ASTQB for any updated information.


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