“Certifications are important because they ensure that people working in software testing are speaking the same language,” says Marc-Florian Wendland, trainer for the ISTQB Foundation Level. Read on for the full interview.
Who are you?
My name is Marc-Florian Wendland. I studied computer science, and I have been working as a research assistant at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS) here in Berlin for the last ten years. I also occasionally work part-time as a freelance trainer for ISTQB certifications.
How did you become a trainer?
It happened purely by chance, actually. A few years ago, I ran into an old classmate, Florian Fieber [Editor’s note: CEO of training provider Quality Dojo], and we got to talking.
So you’re certified as well?
Yes, I have the Full Advanced Level certificate, and I also completed the Agile Tester certificate and the brand-new Test Automation Engineer certificate. But my interest in certifications also came about by chance. I had been working here at the Fraunhofer Institute for about five years at that point, so I had learned the ISTQB vocabulary and subject matter. I didn’t start working on my own certificates until I got deeply involved in developing the syllabus as part of the model-based testing special interest group. During the process, I also took the mock exam. I thought it was only a beta version of the exam, but it turned out it was a real exam, and I was supposed to have completed the Foundation Level before taking the Foundation Level Extension exam. That’s how I ended up catching up on all the certificates step by step over the course of one or two years.
As a trainer, do you teach the topics you hold certificates in?
Yes. I started with the Advanced Level Technical Test Analyst, and I’ve now moved more toward teaching the Agile Tester and Foundation Level certificates, depending on demand.
Why are certifications important?
Primarily, I think certifications are important because they ensure that people working in software testing are speaking the same language. There are a lot of people in testing, in particular, who come from other fields and don’t necessarily have computer science backgrounds – cartographers or people with business degrees, for example, who might not have much previous experience with software testing. They tend to lack some of the theoretical foundations, like how to approach software testing systematically, how to design more efficient testing processes, and – generally speaking – a basic understanding of the concepts and standards of testing and how these concepts are connected to one another. In that sense, I do think certifications – particularly the Foundation Level and Core Advanced Level – are really important.
Is it relevant that training and certification are offered by different organizations?
I always clarify who is responsible for what: What is the role of the ISTQB, what is the role of the German Testing Board, what is the role of the ASQF, what is the role of the iSQI? I explain all this because I think it’s important, and because I think it’s fascinating to learn how standardization organizations operate.
How long does a training course usually take?
That depends on the syllabus. Foundation Level certification takes three days, and the Advanced Levels can take up to four days. Agile Tester Foundation Level certification takes just two days.
And the exam is always held on the last day?
An exam is usually held if the seminar participants have booked it as part of the course package, which isn’t always the case. Some participants prefer to take a week after the course to practice and mull over everything they’ve learned. But most of them do take the exam right at the end of the course.
How long does the exam take?
That also varies. The Foundation Level exam takes an hour, and so do the exams for the Foundation Level Extensions. For the Advanced Levels, the exam can take up to three hours.
How have your experiences with the seminars been thus far?
What I like best during seminars is when I highlight a certain issue by providing examples, and the seminar participants come out of their shells to talk about similar situations at their companies – maybe the dialog between developers and testers isn’t always as good as it could be, for example.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Some parts of the video interview in German: