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How to Become a Software Tester without a Degree

You can still get a Software Tester job without a degree. Here are a few tips to help you successfully compete against your graduate potential colleagues.

Is it even Possible?

Being a software testing engineer doesn’t require a degree, but rather some specialized knowledge and, even more importantly, experience. No degree can guarantee getting this kind of job but even so, is it absolutely necessary to have one in Computer Science, Maths or Engineering (or any other field)? There are many opportunities to access education and self-education these days, so if you are ready to put effort into it, you can undoubtedly achieve the initial skills level and knowledge to land your first software testing job.

To further inspire you, read up on examples of world-known Software Testing specialists without a degree. One of them is James Bach, a former software testing manager at Apple and Borland, who is now one of the most prominent influencers in the field. However, as you can see from James’s biography and posts, choosing this route takes a lot of learning and self-motivation. But if this doesn’t sound like you, having structure to your learning by getting a university degree may be a better option.

The basic fact is that having no diploma may be an issue only for a fresher. After you’ve acquired a few years of testing experience, your basic education usually doesn’t matter for the employer that much.

How to Become a Software Tester without a Degree

Prove You Are Tech-savvy

With or without a degree, the absolutely essential quality for a software tester is to be tech-savvy. One of the reasons employers prefer candidates with degree in computer science, engineering or similar is that it proves that you can deal with the technical side of things. Not having a degree in those fields means that you will additionally need to prove your ability.

To do that, it would be very useful to emphasize your particular knowledge and hands-on experience. This might be any programming language, a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or familiarity with an automation tool. You could also list related courses, certificates, freelance or open-source projects you’ve participated in which can demonstrate your expertise to a potential employer.

Learn Step by Step

To help you get the knowledge and skills sufficient for landing your first job in Software Testing, the following step-by-step guide that is explained more fully in how to get a software testing job as a fresher, will put you on the right path:

  1. Learn Software Testing fundamentals
  2. Use online and offline courses and certifications to expand your knowledge
  3. Read books on Software Testing (suggestions can be found in the above mentioned post)
  4. Get your first testing experience through being a freelancer or volunteer tester
  5. Create a powerful CV then apply for the job in a proactive way. Use networking.

Find a Mentor

In self-education, it is always beneficial to have someone that you can address questions to while you are on your learning path, so it can be a good idea to find a mentor. They might be a friend of yours who you can reach physically, an online instructor of the courses you take, or even a ‘stranger’ from a testing community that you trust. I’ve heard of some freshers who even hire a mentor; however I suppose that paying a hard dollar is not always necessary (of course, it depends on the input you expect from the mentoring person). Anyway, think of ways that you can return the favour to your mentor, maybe by a skills swap.

Practice

Reading about testing may give you the impression that you understand and know it well, but without practice it’s just a feeling. Moreover, if you don’t consolidate your knowledge through practical application, it will quickly evaporate.

As well as popular places to get your first real-world experience such as crowdtesting (e.g., Utest) and freelancing websites (e.g. Freelancer), a good option is to participate in one of the open-source projects that can be easily found on platforms such as GitHub. It’s a great place to practice as a volunteer tester. To start your work with GitHub, here are some basic tips. You can filter the projects by rating and programming language. If you are not sure which to choose, try setting a language to PHP and look for mid-rated projects (or rated above average, but not the highest because those are usually more difficult to enter). You may want to browse through a certain number of projects before you find one you would like to participate in. Make sure to read its documentation (readme files and other instructions) thoroughly as it usually contains some essential information. After selecting the project you like, ask owners for permission to test it. When they approve, go ahead, find bugs and log them into the project bug tracking system.

Such participation will not only give you real hands-on experience of testing, but will make you visible to other community members and help to strengthen your CV by listing the project tested, technologies and tools used, techniques applied and results achieved.

Conclusion

In today’s world, the entering threshold for potential Software Testers is quite high, and so is the competition. Still, nothing is impossible for those who really know their aim. If you are ready to be a persistent and open-minded learner, you’ll have all chances to be as successful as your colleagues with a degree (and even more so).

Good luck in your career, and happy testing!

Author

Alona Benko

Experienced in manual testing and team leading. Apart from QA, her interests lie in the fields of management and psychology.

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