Foundation Level – This is where you need to start. This is the gateway certification for all the other ISTQB certifications. This level is designed for beginners all the way up to those who have been in the industry for awhile (or maybe a long while) and need to brush up their skills and update their terminology. One of the fastest ways to fail in an interview is to use the wrong terms for testing processes, documents and techniques. Organizations tend to adopt their own terminology and it helps to have a base of “standard” terminology, particularly before you venture out for an interview.
The Foundation Level is in the process of being expanded to include several extension modules. Right now, the agile extension is due to be available in early 2014 and work is starting on the model-based testing extension. These are separate certifications you can get that are “added on” to your Foundation Level certification.
Advanced Level – This is where you need to start making decisions. What do you like to do? What do you want to do? Where are the most opportunities?
Advanced Level – Test Analyst – If you are not very technically minded, and would rather work with the user, know the business application and apply your skills more for analysis than programming, you want to pursue the Advanced Test Analyst certification. This certification is designed for the strong tester who has a deep understanding of the business domain and the needs of the user. You’ll learn about designing good test documentation, conducting effective reviews, and participating in risk analysis sessions (particularly to help determine the impact of a realized risk to the business user). You’ll learn about how you can contribute the test information (input data, action, expected results) to the test automation effort and you’ll learn about usability testing. You’ll also build upon the test techniques you learned at the Foundation Level and will learn new techniques such as domain analysis and cause-effect graphing, as well as how to test using use cases and user stories. You’ll learn more about defect-based and experience-based techniques so you’ll know how to pick an appropriate defect taxonomy and how to implement traceable and reproducible exploratory and checklist-based testing. Let’s not forget process improvement as well. You’ll learn what to track in your defect management to be sure you have the information to figure out what could be improved in your process and how you can do it. This certification is designed for the person who wants to spend their time testing, not programming or delving into the code or troubleshooting technical issues.
The path for the Advanced Test Analyst at the Expert Level will include a further specialization in usability testing and further development of testing techniques. At this point, these new syllabi are being discussed but will not be available until at least 2015.