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First off, thanks for reading the question. I understand that this would theoretically be best asked in the SQA stack area - but - seeing as how that doesn't officially exist yet, maybe this was the most appropriate place for it for now.

I'm looking into tracking down a certification in Software Quality, however, there are so many different awarding bodies and certifications that telling the difference between them is difficult.

So far I've found:

  • Six Sigma - a QA process, originally founded by Motorola & not limited to software. (in fact I'm not sure if it even covers software development). Based on a series of 'belts' (black being the best, I assume it starts at green? or white?)
  • ASQ - American Society of Quality - offers numerous certifications in quality
    • CQA - Quality Auditor
    • CQE - Quality Engineer
    • CQIA - Quality Improvement Associate
    • CQI - Quality Inspector
    • CQPA - Quality Process Analyst
    • CQT - Quality Technician
    • CRE - Reliability Engineer
  • QAI Global
    • Software Testing
    • Software Quality Assurance
    • Process Engineering
    • Process Management

With all the different designations and levels, I'm having trouble understanding the differences and the 'start point' and progression between the levels. (Are they a hierarchy or are they in parallell?)

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Thanks for pointing that out, I just committed to it. –  Tim Post Nov 25 '10 at 19:19
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

QAI, ASQ, and ISTQB (another big one you didn't mention) are all parallel (six sigma is a bit of a different beast, but not a gradiation of any of the others).

There's a bit of a controversy in the testing / qa world these days on the value of certifications - one front calls them a money making machine with little value and the other cites the need for a common baseline of testing terms and knowledge.

I won't hijack your question to go any deeper :}

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Well, having just snooped your profile, I think there's a lot of value to the input you might have on this. As the "Director of Test Excellence at Microsoft" and lead author of "How We Test Software at Microsoft" perhaps you could deliver a brief rundown of where you would recommend someone go to get a professional understanding of how to be competent at software QA? (thanks so much for the input) –  Alex C Nov 25 '10 at 19:40
    
actually looks like your blog has provided a link worth it's weight in gold: sqaforums.com/… "Newbie's Gude to QA" –  Alex C Nov 25 '10 at 19:57
    
Glad to help Alex. As far as certs go, we don't require any at MS. The best way I've found to gain competency in testing is to practice testing (including critical thinking, probelem solving, etc.). Or, as you discovered, find some forums to read to supplement your practice - sqaforums is (afaik) the most active forum on the subject. –  Alan Nov 26 '10 at 6:10
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