Nowadays, the profession of a software tester has become a symbol of entering the IT world without elbow grease. Why can some people pull it off and some cannot? Is there a golden rule for securing a job as a tester? Let’s find out.
A good software tester has not only undergone special training crowned by a respective diploma. If you want to do this job successfully, you will appreciate natural predispositions and skills that you can acquire single-handedly. You may wonder if pure skills will suffice. Well, it depends …
Speaking in most general terms: anyone. There are no age or “trade” limitations; for many people who want to branch out the profession of a tester marks the first step in a career in IT. Many candidates fall prey to a stereotype, thinking that this is a simple, easy and pleasant profession that anyone can practise. Here come the details that you need to be aware of if you are contemplating the job of a tester. As it is the case with other professions, some predispositions are also welcome, not only personality-related. These predispositions include:
A good tester needs to be able to combine facts, view an application and its possible uses in the context of its product environment and to draw conclusions;
When, surfing the Internet, you ask questions like “why does it work this way?”, “I wonder why they used this solution”, you are on the right path. Even if people around you sometimes find your inquisitiveness irritating, it will prove priceless in a tester’s work;
It comes in handy especially at the beginning of work as a manual tester, when you check how an application works and simply “click your way” through some software an unlimited number of times. A certain degree of repeatability is an inherent part of a tester’s job;
Another stereotype worth debunking before stepping onto the path of software testing is an introvert hiding in his cubbyhole, a dead ringer of a character from “IT Crowd”, avoiding people at all cost. The situation is quite the opposite! Yes, you spend some time on the testing itself but you need to communicate the results of your work to a developer, a project manager or an entire team. Sometimes you need to explain what is not working. Sometimes you need to ask why something is working the way it is ☺ This is not a job for people who would rather have their arm chopped off than talk to someone on the team.
It will come in handy on a higher level of advancement when you are responsible for creating testing scenarios. In some companies, testers cooperate closely with the entire project team and contribute to developing the assumptions behind a product which provides plenty of room for creativity.
The stereotype of a software tester has one “benefit”: people think that testers do not need to know programming. Yes and no – it all depends on your aspirations.
At this stage, you are typically in charge of “clicking your way” through an application and reporting possible errors. After several or over a dozen months of working as a tester you can also start to write scenarios and test cases. At this stage, in order to acquire new skills, you can also learn to make use of automation tools or tools supporting manual testers. However, if you do not want to grow or learn the basis of a programming language – you hit the wall. The same holds true for financial promotion – among testers, the manual ones are at the bottom of the pay brackets.
Knowing the basis of programming is imperative because in this job you write your own test-automatizing scripts and you fix possible operating errors. All the time, you supervise also the programmes’ operations and you enhance them, for example with new requirements that occurred in the process of creating a product. There is a reason why burnt-out developers or people who want to have a break in programming are good candidates for automatic testers. If you are literate in even one programming language (of course the more the better) you are good to go.
Ok, let’s assume that you remain firm in your decision to become a tester. You have all the predispositions and you want to grow in IT. Where do you start? Regular broadening of your horizons and self-learning are a must; it does not matter whether you already know the job or are contemplating it. The Internet is a mine of knowledge; we recommend publications both in Polish and English (there are many more materials in English). If you know some basis, you can apply right away for a manual testing internship programme. Junior positions are also within your reach – they are particularly attractive to people who branch out and cannot afford an unpaid or poorly paid internship. At the same time, you can try to take on single jobs on platforms like uTest – they will ensure an inflow of cash as well as experience, so valuable at the dawn of a professional career.
As working in IT has become fashionable, training companies are flourishing. They offer not only trainings for developers but also testers. On the one hand, this is an interesting and developing option because a course poses an opportunity to acquire knowledge in a user-friendly way. This is also a guarantee of regularity in learning which is of importance to less systematic people or ones having difficulties with self-motivation. On the other hand, a training is usually costly. Before you choose the school, take a good look of the market because some participants complain about the small number of practical classes and poor care on the part of the mentors. Whether you decide to embark on a course or not, it is a good idea to find a mentor: a person who already works as a tester and who may lend a guiding hand in your search, recommend literature on the subject or give you feedback on your work. Last but not least: even if you have the best teachers/mentors, without your determination and own work they will not be of great help. Acquisition of testing skills is, first and foremost, a considerable effort and ensures regular enrichment of knowledge – a lot depends on you and your commitment.
The schools mentioned here frequently offer their own diplomas but the market honours certificates issued by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB). While you can obtain certificates at any stage of professional development, a document on the basic level should be the first step to becoming a Certified Tester. If you are new to the industry, this item on your CV is bound to be welcome. On the other hand, some people are critical about the certificates and say that all you need to know as a tester can be learnt single-handedly.
This is a very important issue; after all, the time of poorly paid internship must come to an end. Big companies typically have a natural development and promotion path that you may follow after having worked for some time as an intern or an IT junior. However, continued development is key to promotion – if you are contemplating the position of an automatic tester, do not put off learning programming. The more you know about testing and the industry the better your chances of becoming a QA (quality assurance) team member. It stands for a tester with considerable experience who is in charge of entire projects, also related to people management, writing testing scenarios, writing automatic tests and monitoring work within a project. Irrespective of the position you assume, when you work in IT you should know the methods of project management while words like “agile” and “waterfall” should definitely ring the bell.