I just saw an advertisement for this Building a Certification Testing Program – Cutting through the hype to see how it really works on LinkedIn, and I couldn’t stop myself from adding the following comment:

Please make it stop. We don’t need more “certification” programs — not unless you are going to be the first organization that allows itself to be held legally and financially accountable when people you “certify” can’t do what you “certified” they can.

Otherwise, conduct all the training you want. Assess student performance if you want. Only “pass” students who “pass” the assessment if you want.

Just do us all a favor and *STOP* calling it certification until you are willing to do things like:

  • reimburse hiring expenses to employers who hire folks you certified as being able to X who can’t X
  • implement periodic re-assessment to enforce some bar of continued knowledge/skill/ability over time
  • implement some way to revoke certifications of folks who fail to demonstrate knowledge/skill/ability in the workforce

The list goes on, but I know it’s pointless. The certification machine will continue no matter how loudly, or how frequently I point out the ways in which it is frequently (at least arguably) unethical and fraudulent – at least in “testerland.”

Seriously, this drives me insane.  Others can make stands about content, assessment methods, etc. — I have my opinions on those things, but honestly that part of the topic bores me.  People decide what university to attend, what to major in, what electives to take, etc. for their degree programs … they can decide on whether or not the content of some professional development program (with or without “certification” program) is worth their effort.  What I want to see is the “certifying bodies” being held accountable for complying with the claims they make about the individuals they “certify.”

I mean, seriously, have any of you seen any data that you’d consider either statistically significant, empirical (vs. anecdotal), or free enough from obvious experimental design flaws to support the claims we see from “certifying bodies”?  If you have, please share the data with me and I’ll list it in line — unless of course, it’s flawed, in which case, I’d be happy to point out how and why the data doesn’t support the conclusion.

Otherwise, please, please, please don’t engage in creating more of these things.  Please.

Scott Barber
Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.

Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Author, Web Load Testing for Dummies
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, and How To Reduce the Cost of Testing

“If you can see it in your mind…
     you will find it in your life.”