This post offers explains the wide choice of career paths available in software testing after being a trainee, such as test automation, QA management or consultant.
For some, the first step on their software testing career growth path will be as a software testing trainee or intern. As a beginner, they might attend courses provided by the hiring company and fulfill some practical tasks on the project. In another scenario, they could start work as a junior QA (or software testing specialist) and perform test case executions, bug reporting and verification, and other basic tasks under close supervision of a more experienced specialist.
At some point, both trainee and team will realize that close supervision is no longer needed. This usually means the novice has become a middle software testing specialist and congratulations are due.
Middle Level Software Tester – Basic Responsibilities
Regular responsibilities for a software tester include gathering and analyzing requirements, creating test cases and/or automation scripts and executing test scenarios. They are also expected to find and document defects and perform different kinds of functional and nonfunctional testing. These activities can vary depending on the project, methodology and the tester’s skill level.
The systems under test can also vary. Whether it is a desktop or mobile application, an e-commerce site or a medical tool will defines the testing techniques and methods to use.
Although an interest in a specialization may present itself at any step in a career, as a mid-level specialist, it’s common to feel a passion for one or another kind of work. Technical tasks may particularly appeal, perhaps a special interest in security testing, or be attracted to organizing people and processes. Some QA specialists go deeper in learning currently used technologies and sharpening their existing skills, while others prefer to get a broad experience of different kinds of projects. And that’s where some of the main options for a career path arise.
If you are technically minded, irritated or bored by repetitive test case execution, you might want to look in the direction of test automation. Along with understanding the main principles of software testing, having the following skills and knowledge will be useful:
- At least one programming language
- Basics of object-oriented programming
- Familiarity with automation testing tools and frameworks
There are plenty of frameworks and approaches, some of which require more programming skills (like Java and Selenium), while others can be used even by non-programmers (such as Cucumber and other BDD tools) in a good collaboration between the automation and manual QA team. Automation is an example of a technical role in general, and this career route can be a good alternative for those not drawn to management.
A certain number of experts hold the view that the manual tester role will become obsolete. Some companies are already trying to eliminate manual positions or combine manual and automation roles. But as practice and job vacancies show, manual testers are still in demand and (presumably) will never entirely be replaced by automation. So, if you are not an extremely technical person, there are still options for a career as a QA. Remember too, that this profession also values plenty of soft skills to succeed.
Technical Expert or Consultant
As you become more experienced and find your niche, you might become a technical expert in a specific field such as performance testing, usability or security testing, or even broader fields like test management. You can also achieve a specialized in certain business domains like Telecom, Finance or Health Care. You could perform the tech expert role within your company or decide to take a path of an independent consultant. These specialists are usually paid more and are expected to provide high-value advice from outside an organization.
QA Management and Project Management
If you are excited by dealing with people and processes, you can choose to aim for a managerial position like QA Manager or Project Manager. You’ll need to be able to communicate a lot both inside and outside the team, take responsibility for the result of the project/ testing, delegate and control, negotiate terms and resources, provide plans and estimations and coordinate the entire effort. You will need to work closely with team leaders and client representatives. You’ll need to have a deep understanding of software development methodologies and lifecycle.
Project management is another broad field available for future career development. Along with the responsibilities mentioned above, you might also need to know about continuous integration and version control systems like Git, and be familiar with the range of project management tools that are available, such as Asana.
Other IT Professions
Some reach the point where they feel they have outgrown the role of software tester, so explore moving to software development, business analysis, technical writing or other IT professions, depending on what skills and experience they already have. That said, there’s no need to leave the industry if for some reason you are not willing or able to continue your career as a QA.
We have now seen that software testing can offer a wide range of opportunities and directions in which to grow. Follow your passion and involve yourself in doing what you really like. This is the key to a really successful and enjoyable career.