Brief Overview of ISTQB® Certifications


Brief Overview of ISTQB® Certifications

In the last decade, the ISTQB released new certifications to keep up with changes and needs in the industry. The increasing popularity and growth of software testing across different sectors is genuinely captivating. Currently, ISTQB offers 23 unique certifications and organizes them into core, agile, and specialist groups. The scheme provides various proficiency levels as the foundation, advanced, and expert. You can find the list of all ISTQB certifications on the official website. In this post, let’s briefly review each certificate.


Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL)

Among all the ISTQB certifications, CTFL stands out as the core and most significant certification. CTFL provides a solid foundation and is a prerequisite for further ISTQB certifications. The CTFL material covers the basics of software testing, testing principles, and various test design techniques. It includes multiple practices, such as DevOps, Agile, CI/CD, etc. Unlike other ISTQB certifications, CTFL certification is available to all with no prerequisites. 

Presently, there are several CTFL syllabus versions. CTFL v4.0 is the newest and greatest document. CTFL v3.1, the older version, and retiring on the 9th of May in 2024. Check out this blog post if you’re considering taking an exam soon but are unsure about the differences. It will provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision. 


Companies seek professionals with advanced ISTQB certifications in software testing and quality assurance. This trend is because there is a rising need for experts who can identify areas for improvement and provide efficient solutions.

The CORE advanced-level comprises three distinct qualifications:

  • Test Analyst
  • Test Manager
  • Technical Test Analyst
Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Analyst (CTAL-TA)

This certification is for experienced software testers who want to enhance their test design and analytical skills. The ISTQB released the first version of the syllabus in late 2012 and has since undergone several significant updates. A substantial focus is on test design techniques, an extension of CTFL certification. CTAL-TA certificate is a popular option for individuals who have already got CTFL certification.

Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Manager (CTAL-TM)

Test Manager certification is for software testers to strengthen their test management skills. It covers various test management topics, such as test approaches based on organizational test strategy or how to build and develop a test team. This certificate is crucial for obtaining Expert level certifications and is a prerequisite. The certification’s exam duration (3 hours within 65 questions) is the longest compared to all other certifications. Test managers who took the exam say it is one of the most challenging exams in the ISTQB certification scheme.

Certified Tester Advanced Level – Technical Test Analyst (CTAL-TTA) 

Technical testing skills are essential for any software tester who wishes to stay ahead of the curve. This certification is perfect for those who want to enhance their technical testing abilities. It covers aspects such as white box testing, static and dynamic testing, non-functional testing, and test automation.


Expert-level certifications in the software testing industry are rare. These certifications are for software testers with experience who want to enhance their expertise in a particular area. Before becoming an expert, passing exams for foundation and advanced test manager is necessary. These certificates stay valid for seven years. There are five expert-level certifications. Getting expert certifications may be challenging, but it can be worth it if you want to distinguish yourself from others.


There are two parts to the CTEL-ITP certification:

  • Assessing the Test Process
  • Implementing Test Process Improvement

You can take a separate exam for each part, but full CTEL-ITP certification requires passing both exams. 

Certified Tester Expert Level – Assessing Test Processes (CTEL-ITP-ATP)

Have you been in situations where the testing process could be faster and more efficient? There is always what to enhance, and such expertise is crucial in organizations for continuous improvement. But assessing the current test process is the first step before improving any test process. The certification explicitly focuses on evaluating the test process and advising for enhancements.

Certified Tester Expert Level – Implementing Test Process Improvement (CTEL-ITP-ITPI)

After assessing the test process, the next step is to implement improvements. This test process improvement certificate explains how to do it. The topics include improvement processes, organization considerations, change management, and success factors. The certification is an excellent option for individuals who possess a holistic viewpoint and aspire to improve it.


CTEL-TM certification includes three parts:

  • Strategic Test Management
  • Operational Test Management
  • Managing the Test Team

Full CTEL-TM certification requires passing all three separate exams. 

Certified Tester Expert Level – Test Management Strategic Test Management (CTEL-TM-SM)

A solid testing strategy is crucial for the success of any software development project. It serves as a foundation to ensure the quality and reliability of the final product. The certification covers critical parts, like a test mission and the purpose of testing. It also explains the relationships between test policy, strategy, and objectives. This test management strategic certification is a good fit if you want to lead test management within an organization, project, or program.

Certified Tester Expert Level – Test Management Operational Test Management (CTEL-TM-OTM)

Handling relationships with external parties is crucial to Operational Test Management certification. It encompasses various aspects, including contracts, communication, integration, and quality verification. It also covers test metrics analysis, software release management, and project risk management. These elements are all crucial components of expert-level operational test management.

Certified Tester Expert Level – Test Management Managing the Test Team (CTEL-TM-MTT)

Effective leadership and team management skills are crucial for any exceptional manager. The expert-level certification for managing a test team emphasizes people management skills. It involves the capability to develop and guide test teams in an organization. Managing a team involves hiring, goal-setting, personality understanding, performance evaluation, motivation, and remote management. Every test manager should strive for continuous growth; this certification is the perfect opportunity to achieve it.


After passing the CTFL exam, many individuals pursue specialist certifications. Testers can gain more expertise and knowledge in their area of interest. The specialist track contains even 11 certificates. Most ISTQB specialist certification exams follow a standard format with a set number of questions and a passing score. However, exceptions exist for AI testing, security tester, and test automation engineer.

Certified Tester – Test Automation Engineer (CT-TAE)

Test automation certification is one of the most popular specialties today. Automating tests can speed up the process and make results more accurate. This certification is for you if you have experience in software testing or want to learn and improve your automated testing skills. ISTQB views the test automation engineer certification as an advanced-level certification.

Certified Tester – Acceptance Testing (CT-AcT)

User acceptance testing (UAT) is crucial to any software development process. UAT verifies that the solution meets the customer’s needs and requirements. Acceptance Testing certification focuses on collaboration between product owners, customers, and the development team. The certification covers UAT, regulatory testing, and alpha/beta testing. Those who engage in user acceptance testing and work with stakeholders can benefit from this certification.

Certified Tester – AI Testing (CT-AI)

Artificial Intelligence is currently a trending and widely discussed subject. AI is important in software testing because of improvements in testing tools. This certification, introduced in late 2021, is one of the latest additions to the ISTQB scheme. Certification for AI Testing is ideal for learning about AI-powered software, testing AI systems, and using AI for testing.

Certified Tester – Automotive Software Tester (CT-AuT)

Each year, self-driving cars are making progress toward keeping drivers and passengers safe. Vehicles are constantly improving their safety features for better road protection. The Automotive Software Tester certification is helpful for software testers in the automotive field. The certification focuses on Automotive SPICE®, ISO 26262, and AUTOSAR® standards for Electrical/Electronic systems. It provides industry practices in software testing for safety-critical systems.

Certified Tester – Test Gambling Industry Tester (CT-GT)

Gambling testers require general testing knowledge and specific industry skills. If you work as a software tester for the gambling business, the Gambling Industry Tester certification is for you. It covers various aspects:

  • gambling industry compliance testing
  • fun factor
  • player perspective testing
  • math testing
  • audio testing
  • multiplayer testing
  • and interoperability testing
Certified Tester – Test Game Tester (CT-GaMe)

Almost every child and even grown-up enjoys countless hours spent in video games. Did you know you can transform your love for gaming into a profitable profession by pursuing a career as a professional game tester? If you weren’t aware, now you are. ISTQB also provides Game Testing certification, adding credibility to your expertise in this field. It involves the conceptual design, implementation, and execution of game software tests. It also covers game testing mechanics, sound testing, graphics testing, and localization. For those passionate about gaming, this can be a valuable certification to enhance your skills.

Certified Tester – Mobile Application Testing (CT-MAT)

Every day, individuals rely on mobile applications, and their quality is crucial. The number of smartphone apps available worldwide is close to 9 million. Google Play Store boasts an extensive collection with over 3 million apps ready for download. In comparison, the Apple App Store offers a staggering 1.6 million apps. It’s no surprise that mobile app testing is an absolute necessity. The ISTQB mobile application testing certification targets professionals involved in mobile technology.

Certified Tester – Model-Based Tester (CT-MBT)

Have you ever thought about delving into model-based testing? This approach can elevate your capabilities as a tester. Model-based testing is a testing method that uses models to define the behavior of a system and generates test cases from those models. One significant benefit of this technique is that it can detect possible errors early in the development process, saving time and money. Model-based testing, used with manual and automated testing, gives a thorough approach to software testing.

Certified Tester – Performance Testing (CT-PT)

People get impatient when a software, mobile application, or web system takes more than several seconds to respond. It becomes even more frustrating when heavy traffic causes crashes or stops the software entirely. Because of that, businesses can lose customers and money. Performance testing presents significant challenges. Analyzing response time and throughput in performance testing is valuable for optimizing system performance. Getting certified can improve the tester’s understanding of this complex activity. The certification encompasses technical aspects, methodical considerations, organizational factors, and more.

Certified Tester – Security Tester (CT-SEC)

In the software development process, security testing plays a vital role. It aids in uncovering any vulnerabilities or weaknesses in code that malicious individuals could exploit. The certification covers various topics like security risks, encryption, tool selection, etc. The Security Tester certification is for people with some experience in security testing who want to improve their skills. The ISTQB considers the security tester certification as an advanced-level.

Certified Tester – Usability Testing (CT-UT)

Usability testing is an essential part of any good product design process. It can help you and your team ensure your applications are easy to use, intuitive, and valuable for users. To get certified in usability testing, you must learn about the various methods and techniques used in this field. It includes setting up procedures from the usability, user experience, and accessibility tests and familiarizing oneself with relevant standards and potential risks.


The Agile track comprises one foundation-level certification and two advanced-level certifications.

  • Agile Tester (Foundation)
  • Agile Test Leadership At Scale (Advanced)
  • Agile Technical Tester (Advanced)


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

Agile tester certification is an extension for foundation-level certification. It is one of the most popular certificates taken by testers. The latest CTFL 4.0 syllabus incorporates a significant number of agile concepts. This raises an important question: is it genuinely helpful to pursue this certification? The answer is yes, as it remains a prerequisite for achieving advanced-level Agile certifications.


Both advanced-level certifications require a Certified Tester Foundation Level and Foundation Level Agile Tester

Certified Tester Advanced Level – Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT)

Agile technical tester certification provides a comprehensive introduction to fundamental technical testing skills. These are necessary for organizations that adhere to an Agile development approach. It helps people succeed and contributes to project success. The certification material can help people improve their technical testing skills in an agile framework. This certification is ideal for those who already possess a solid grounding in Agile testing and wish to progress to the next level.

Certified Tester Advanced Level – Agile Test Leadership at Scale (MVP) (CTAL-ATLaS)

In 2022, the ISTQB released the ATLaS v1.0 certification as a minimum viable product. MVP certification is available only in Denmark, Norway, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland. This certification is one of the latest additions to the ISTQB certification portfolio. This certification helps people improve quality and testing processes across multiple agile teams. The target audience is individuals with extensive knowledge of agile and agile testing. It complements the Advanced Level Agile Technical Tester and Test Management certifications.


That was quite a lot, wasn’t it? But which certifications are suitable for you? Well, it depends on your day-to-day tasks. Selecting and pursuing the most relevant certifications for your job is one way. However, studying each certificate’s material can provide valuable insights and improve testing abilities. For example, even if you don’t test AI software, learning about AI can enhance your testing skills and creativity. Start your journey toward professional growth and success with ISTQB certifications. Keep learning, get certified, and good luck with your progress!

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