I have been one of the testers who had got caught up with the Software Certifications trend early in my career and have also managed to "Pass" a few of them. As a general format, these certifications (provided by many private vendors) has its own Body of Knowledge for Software Testing and follow a certain format for evaluating candidates. Some of these certifications have been really popular among the testers as well as some of the big organizations. Some organizations even have these certifications as a part of their "must-have" or "good to have" skills for particular Software Testing jobs. I have even come to know of a few organizations in which one of the criteria for promoting the people to a new role is to successfully pass one or few of these certifications. All these signify the lack of standardization of education on Software testing. With no available benchmark to appropriately judge testers, the authorities providing these certifications have turned this situation to a successful business idea. These certification cost the applicants a few hundred dollars or thousands of Rupees and have thus turned out to be huge money spinners needed to sustain the profits of these organizations. Moreover, all these certifications comes with a certain Expiry date after which the candidate is required to "renew" the same (meaning spend more Dollars).If the applicant wants the additional study guide which incidentally is required to pass the certification exam, then one is required to shell hundreds of dollars again. Shelling money for a cause that helps you gain knowledge is good but over the years what I have found is that the whole process of gaining the Certification is no good than learning the skills required to pass the examination. There is a little one really gains about Software Testing in the whole process. I believe that all the people who have reached a stage in their lives to called as "Software Testing Engineer" would have already "passed" many examinations in the journey of being called the same and are smart enough to understand what is the difference between passing the exam and gaining the knowledge on the subject. In the current context, these are two different things. Being certified doesn’t not mean that one is an expert in the field. Being certified simply means that one has met all the defined criteria set by the Certification authority which incidentally is only passing the exam in most of the cases. The fact -of-the-matter is that there are many people who would struggle to define "Software Testing" or even present their perspective of Software testing even after being Certified. As the one who has worked at the ground level, there are few reasons that I could think of on why there is a mad rush among the people to be certified-
1. People perceive "being Certified" by a certain body as a means of being recognized in the profession.
2. The role models/Seniors in their respective organizations have got certain certifications, so people would want to emulate the role model.
3. Certifications are often seen as the Status Symbols. Some use it as a means to make their Signature more impressive.
4. Most organizations promote these certifications as a part of Continuous education of employees.
5. Managers put it as one of the goals for their subordinates to complete a certain certification in a review year.
6. Some junior testers would want to do the certifications to "improve" their job prospects.
7. Since most of the published jobs in the market today have a mention of some certifications as a required or desired skills, people opt for these.
8. People interested in going out of the country for the job perceive these certifications as important to have.
9. People want to learn something new, something meaningful that they can apply in their jobs.
10. Want to become experts in Software Testing.
These reasons are not cooked by me but are as result of opinion I have formed upon meeting the different people. The percentage of entire population that I have come across who wants to go for certification for the last reason (point#9, 10) is quite less.
Having being Certified myself, I can tell that personally I do have gained some good things from these certifications. Apart from knowledge, the concept of re-certification has helped me plan my career in some ways. Instead of going for exams for recertification I chose to collect the Credit points (honestly!) in different suggested areas. It really helped to broaden my horizons and helped me to take the road less travelled. But of course, one doesn't need to be certified to do such things; it can be a part of one's career planning only.
Further views on Software Testing certifications at- here