Best QA Certifications in 2024 To Boost Your IT Quality Assurance Career

QA Certifications

The software development industry thrives on flawless functionality. Even minor defects in code can lead to significant financial losses and reputational damage. As per the Consortium for Information and Software Quality, poor software quality and software bugs costs US businesses upwards of $2.08 trillion annually. This underscores the crucial need of Quality Assurance (QA) professionals in ensuring software quality throughout the development lifecycle. To put it plain and simple, QA specialists are crucial to software development, carefully examining applications to identify and eliminate glitches, defects, and errors before they reach end-users. 

To excel in this domain, certifications can be a real game changer. However, the decision on which QA certification to pursue can in itself, be quite a confusing one. However, not to worry! We have outlined the 6 best Quality Assurance certifications to help you sort through this dilemma. 

What is Quality Assurance?

Before we proceed further and get into the gist of the blog, it is first important to understand what is quality assurance in software testing. In a broader sense, quality assurance means to check if a product is functioning as intended. In the IT space, QA encompasses a wide range of activities that are designed to identify and eliminate defects in software applications. Quality assurance professionals play a vital role in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), working alongside developers to ensure that the final product meets user requirements and functions flawlessly.  By proactively pinpointing these issues, QA professionals help to prevent costly bugs that can crash systems, corrupt data, or compromise security.

Some common QA tasks include:

  • Test planning and design: Defining testing strategies, test cases, and test data.
  • Test execution: Manually or automatically executing tests to uncover bugs.
  • Defect reporting and tracking: Identifying, documenting, and reporting software defects.
  • Usability testing: Evaluating the user-friendliness of the software.

Why Get a QA Certification?

In today’s competitive IT job market, a QA certification can be a powerful asset that boosts your career forward. Here are some compelling reasons to consider pursuing a QA certification:

  • Enhanced Job Prospects:  

A recognized QA certification validates your knowledge and skills, setting you apart from a pool of non-certified applicants. Many HR executives and managers agree IT professionals with certifications are demonstrably more likely to get hired compared to their non-certified counterparts. Recruiters actively seek candidates who possess industry-recognized credentials, as certifications signify a commitment to professional development and a strong foundation in core QA principles.

  • Boosted Earning Potential:  

Studies conducted by CompTIA consistently demonstrate that IT professionals with certifications typically command higher salaries than those without.  A 2023 salary survey by Global Knowledge revealed that IT professionals with a Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) certification earn an average of 12% more than their non-certified peers. This trend holds true for other in-demand QA certifications as well.  Earning a relevant QA certification can equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to negotiate a higher salary or secure a more lucrative job opportunity.

According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average quality assurance (QA) specialist salary in 2024 is $71,279 (USD) per year 

  • Validation of Your Skills:  

The process of preparing for and obtaining a QA certification demonstrates your dedication to continuous learning and staying on top of the latest advancements and trends within the QA domain.  Employers value candidates who are passionate about staying current with the constantly evolving IT space.  A certification showcases your commitment to professional growth and your ability to adapt to new technologies and methodologies.

  • Improved Career Advancement Opportunities: 

Acquiring a QA certification can open doors to exciting leadership roles within the QA field.  Many organizations seek QA professionals with strong technical expertise and demonstrable leadership qualities to fill positions such as Test Automation Engineer, Security Tester, or Performance Tester.  Certifications can equip you with the knowledge and experience necessary to take on more responsibility and propel your career to the next level.

Explore the highest-ranked selections: A Complete Guide to CompTIA IT Certification Roadmap

Best QA Certifications

Best Quality Assurance Certifications in 2024

Certification Certifying Body Cost Target Audience Prerequisites Certification Validity
Certified Software Testing Engineer (CSTE) Global Association For Quality Management (GAQM) $170 Beginners Yes Lifetime
Certified Software Quality Manager (CSQM) Global Association For Quality Management (GAQM) $170 Mid-career professionals Yes Lifetime
Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) American Society for Quality (ASQ $533 Quality professionals across diverse industries Yes 3 years
Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) American Society for Quality (ASQ) $533 Quality professionals responsible for conducting audits Yes 3 years
Certified Software Testing Manager (CSTM) Global Association For Quality Management (GAQM) $170 QA professionals seeking leadership roles Yes 5 years
ISTQB Foundation Level Certifications: Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) Certified Tester Foundation Level Agile Tester (CTFL-AT) International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) -$229-$199 Beginners No Lifetime
Advanced-Level ISTQB Certifications: International Software Testing $249 Experienced QA professionals Yes Lifetime
Technical Test Analyst (CTAL-TTA) Test Analyst (CTAL-TA) Test Manager (CTAL-TM) Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT) Agile Test Leadership at Scale (CTAL-ATLaS) Qualification Board (ISTQB) aiming for leadership roles
Expert-Level ISTQB Certifications: Test Management (CTEL-TM) Improving Test Processes (CTEL-ITP) International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB) $575 QA Professionals with advanced knowledge looking to further their expertise Yes Lifetime
Specialist ISTQB Certifications: Acceptance Testing (CT-AcT) AI Testing (CT-AI) Automotive Software Testing (CT-AuT) International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB) $199 QA professionals looking to be proficient in a specific niche Yes Lifetime

Dive deeper into:- ISTQB certification cost 

1. Certified Software Testing Engineer (CSTE)

Exam Details:

Exam Code CSTE-001
Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 80 Questions
Exam Duration 1 Hour (60 Minutes)
Passing Score 70% (56 out of 80)
Delivery Method Online, Proctored
Open Book? No

Annual Average Salary:

According to Payscale, the annual average salary of a Certified Software Testing Engineer (CSTE) is $102,430.

2. Certified Software Quality Manager (CSQM)

Exam Details

Exam Code CSQM-001
Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 100 Questions
Exam Duration 1 Hour 30 Mins (90 Minutes)
Passing Score 70% (70 out of 100)
Delivery Method Online, Proctored
Open Book? No

Annual Average Salary

According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average salary of a Certified Software Quality Manager is $118,644 per year.

3. Certified Quality Engineer (CQE)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 175 Questions (Only 160 scored)
Exam Duration 5 Hours 30 Minutes
Passing Score Varies Each Session
Delivery Method Online + Remote Proctored
Open Book? Yes

Annual Average Salary

According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average salary for a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) is $84,039 per year.

4. Certified Quality Auditor (CQA)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions, Case study
No. Of Questions 1165 Questions (Only 150 scored)
Exam Duration 5 Hours 30 Minutes
Passing Score Varies Each Session
Delivery Method Online + Remote Proctored
Open Book? Yes

Annual Average Salary

As per ZipRecruiter, the annual average salary for a Certified Quality Auditor is $80,278 per year

5. Certified Software Testing Manager (CSTM)

Exam Details

Exam Code CSTM-001
Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 100 Questions
Exam Duration 1 Hour 10 Minutes (70 Minutes)
Passing Score 70% (70 out of 100)
Delivery Method Online, Proctored
Open Book? No

Annual Average Salary

According to Glassdoor, the annual average salary for a Certified Software Testing Manager is $150,978 per year.

6. ISTQB Foundation Level Certifications:

Certifications by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), are perhaps the most popular name in the Quality Assurance space. ISTQB offers individuals certifications at different career levels. Let’s take a more comprehensive look: 

i) Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 60 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (26 out of 40)

Annual Average Salary

According to Payscale, the annual average salary for a Certified Tester at a beginner level is around $85,000 per year.

All you Need to Know about Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) 

ii) Certified Tester Foundation Level Agile Tester (CTFL-AT)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 60 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (26 out of 40)

Annual Average Salary

The annual average salary of an Entry-Level Certified Agile Tester is $73,594.

7. Advanced-Level ISTQB Certifications (ISTQB Certified Tester - Advanced Level)

These certifications cater to experienced QA professionals seeking to elevate their skills in specific testing domains:

i) Technical Test Analyst (CTAL-TTA)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 45 Questions
Exam Duration 112 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (51 out of 78)

Annual Average Salary

According to Glassdoor, the annual average salary for an Advanced Technical Test Analyst is $85,480 per year.

ii) Test Analyst (CTAL-TA)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 120 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (52 out of 80)

Annual Average Salary

According to market trends, the average annual salary for a Certified Tester Advanced Level Test Analyst is $70997 per year.

iii) Test Manager (CTAL-TM)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 65 Questions
Exam Duration 180 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (75 out of 115)

Annual Average Salary

The annual average salary, as per ZipRecruiter,  for a Certified Test Advanced Level Test Manager is $109,109 a year.

iv) Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 120 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (47 out of 71)

Annual Average Salary

According to market trends, the average annual salary for a Certified Tester Advanced Level Test Analyst is $70997 per year.

8. Expert-Level ISTQB Certifications (ISTQB Certified Tester - Expert Level)

These certifications cater to highly experienced QA professionals seeking to specialize in specific testing areas:

i) Test Management (CTEL-TM)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions, Essay Questions
No. Of Questions 25 Questions, 2 essay questions
Exam Duration 135 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (88 out of 135)

Annual Average Salary

An expert-level Test Manager, according to Glassdoor, is $121960 per year.

ii) Improving Test Processes (CTEL-ITP):

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions, Essay Questions
No. Of Questions 25 Questions, 2 essay questions
Exam Duration 135 Minutes
Passing Score 65%

Annual Average Salary 

The annual average salary for a Certified Tester Expert Level Implementing Test Process Improvement is estimated to be over $102,000 per year.

9. Specialist ISTQB Certifications

ISTQB offers a comprehensive range of specialist certifications catering to professionals interested in specific testing domains:

i) Acceptance Testing (CT-AcT)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 60 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (26 out of 40)

Annual Average Salary 

The average annual salary of an Acceptance Tester, according to ZipRecruiter, is $91,942 per year.

ii) AI Testing (CT-AI)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 60 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (31 out of 47)

Annual Average Salary

The annual average salary for a certified AI Tester, according to ZipRecruiter, is $79,791 per year.

iii) Automotive Software Testing (CT-AuT)

Exam Details

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 40 Questions
Exam Duration 60 Minutes
Passing Score 65% (26 out of 40)

Annual Average Salary 

The annual average salary for an Automotive Software Tester can be around $70,869 per year

Also see: ISTQB Test Automation Engineer Certification: A Complete Pathway

Choosing the Right Certification

  • Consider your experience level: Are you a beginner, mid-career professional, or aiming for a leadership role? Select a certification that aligns with your current experience and career aspirations.
  • Identify your area of interest: Do you want to specialize in Agile testing, security testing, or test automation? Choose a certification that caters to your specific testing interests.
  • Research the job market: Investigate the certifications that are most in-demand within your target job market. This can help you select a credential that will enhance your employability.

Delve into the details of: How many levels are of ISTQB certifications? Exploring the ISTQB Roadmap

You’ve Made It To The End!

We’ve explored a comprehensive range of sought-after QA certifications, providing valuable insights into their target audience, key features, and exam details. Earning a QA certification is a valuable investment in your professional development. It demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning, validates your skills and knowledge, and positions you for career advancement within the exciting and continually evolving field of IT Quality Assurance

However, remember, the most suitable certification for you depends on your career goals, experience level, and specific area of interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Absolutely! IT Quality Assurance certifications validate your skills and knowledge to employers, making you a more competitive candidate in the job market.  Studies consistently demonstrate that IT professionals with certifications typically command higher salaries compared to their non-certified counterparts.  Furthermore, certifications showcase your commitment to continuous learning and staying current with the latest advancements in the QA field.

For beginners with little to no prior experience, the Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) offered by the ISTQB is an excellent starting point.  This entry-level certification equips you with the foundational knowledge of core testing concepts and terminology, preparing you for a successful launch into the QA field.

The demand for specific QA certifications can fluctuate depending on industry trends and technological advancements.  The ISTQB CTFL certification stands as the most popular choice for beginners. The CQE Certification is also considered a good choice for individuals looking for more advanced knowledge in the field. ISTQB’s specialist certifications are also quite popular for those looking for targeted testing knowledge in a particular domain.

The cost of obtaining a QA certification varies depending on the specific credential and the exam provider.  Entry-level certifications like CTFL typically have lower exam fees (ranging from $150 to $400), while more advanced certifications like the CSQA or CMSQ may cost upwards of $700.  In addition to exam fees, you may also incur costs for study materials or preparatory courses.

The time required to prepare for a QA certification exam depends on the complexity of the certification, your existing knowledge base, and the study approach you adopt.  Entry-level certifications may require a few weeks of dedicated study, while more advanced certifications may involve several months of preparation.  Many online resources and training courses are available to help you prepare for QA certification exams effectively.

While it’s possible to land an entry-level QA position without a certification, having a relevant credential significantly enhances your employability.  Certifications demonstrate your commitment to the field, validate your knowledge and skills, and set you apart from a pool of non-certified candidates.  In a competitive job market, possessing a QA certification can give you a significant edge.

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