I am an ISTQB Foundation Certified Tester and am looking at attaining either the Certified Agile Tester (CAT) certification or the ISTQB Intermediate Certificate to add to my skills and experience to try and take me to the next level.

Apart from the obvious route of Tester to Senior Tester to Test Manager, are there any other options for the testing career? Which qualification is worth having?

  • 3
    What are your career aspirations and motivations ? Money, power, influence, job satisfaction ? Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 17:30
  • Do you think either of those courses will really add to your skills and experiences ? Or just be something to add to your CV ? Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 17:40
  • Worth having for what? But the title of questions seems interesting...
    – dzieciou
    Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 17:54

7 Answers 7


"The answer to any sufficiently complex question is, It Depends"

In this case, I think it depends on where you work. Where I work (msft), I don't manage people, but I am at a fairly high "level" within the organization. I choose not to manage people because it allows me to do more of the work that I enjoy doing. I've never been a consultant, but I'm told my role within the org is similar to a consultant, so I could imagine that consultant could be another path for non-managers.

As far as certifications go, I have none. I've heard that sometimes they help, but I've never needed them in my career.


The conversation about certification is a totally another topic, and I would leave it out of here. Certifications won't play a major or an important role in your career path.

Options are many, but mainly I would divide into management track and technology track. I have worked with CEO who was formerly a QA Engineer, attained his MBA and advanced to becoming a CEO. I have also worked with CTO, VP of Engineering, Director of Technology, etc. who have been QA in early part of their career. With 'Quality' in the title, Director of Quality Engineering/Assurance would be an example.

However, each of these will require good people and management skills and extremely good knowledge and understanding of the business and subject matter expertise. If you develop good programming skills and understanding of the technology, you are as good a candidate for high level technology position as anyone else.

If you want to read various opinions about certifications, this thread may help.


Do you like management ? If not, then the career path us not obvious...

You can become a consultant, a specialist - or stay as a tester. That's what I am, I've done test management and consultancy but being a great tester is my chosen career path at the moment


I agree with Suchit, certifications and career advancement are very different.

The majority of Testing Managers I've worked for or with have had very little testing experience but were promoted for one reason or another. Some companies may prefer to hire professional managers (MBAs) for certain jobs while other companies would rather promote someone with technical abilities - e.g. a Software Tester, Developer, etc..

You can look at your own organization for career advancement advice, for example what is the highest role someone with the title of Test Engineer or QA have? Do they have directors of QA?

Quite of the few BIG names in software testing have varied backgrounds. Some are consultants that work with individual firms on projects (have their own consultancies), some train other testers, some work as testers or Directors for big Companies (eBay, Microsoft, Google, etc.). Cem Kaner is a Florida Institute of Technology professor and a consultant in his spare time.

It all depends.


The answer will depend on your current employer, what industry they're in, how hard you are willing to work, how flexible you are, and where you live. While testing can be an interesting and rewarding job, there is only so far you can go as a tester. However, you can use what you learn as a tester to move into another kind of job in the same industry, e.g. product development, marketing, sales, or training. Another option would be to strike out on your own providing specialized testing tools or training.

It helps to be curious about what is going around you: not just about your job, but about the jobs of the people you interact with.

One thing is for sure, though: I would not recommend a job in the razor business.


I've got to give Developer In Test some love, since this is my chosen path. If you like writing code and automation, you can steer your career in that direction and create tools and automation to support QA efforts. I do this full time and am pretty much on par (pay and title) with other developers with similar skills and experience.


If you are looking to be a good tester then you should have some development experience to climb the career ladder. Skillset addition.

  • 1
    Must have some development experience? No. There are still many companies where development experience is not a must for a career in QA/Testing. Nice to have - yes. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 13:14
  • Yes @JoeStrazzere I agree. Comment edited (must -> should) :)
    – Saikat
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 6:00

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