How Bright our Career is in Software Testing?
A question of great significance comes to the mind of most of the IT professionals i.e.
What kind of future I can have in a Software Testing Career?
The answer is to this is complex. It’s easy to reach a dead-end in testing; we need to intelligently manage the career or we may get bewildered. There is a general belief that pay is lower in testing than in other development positions, but this belief can be proved otherwise if we actively build our skills and pick our employers a bit carefully. Attrition is more in case of testers; testers usually fall prey easily & get laid off more frequently compared to other equally competent developers. Hence testers need more skill of job-hunting and pay negotiations.
There is a common belief among majority of testers that if they are certified; they can be a better candidate for lucrative jobs in testing. If we go through the profiles of some of the great gurus in testing like James Bach plus many more, who had marvelous career as testing experts despite any certification.
There are quite many plusses & minuses of certifications. Famous quotes by
James Bach – a well known Testing Expert are:
Quote 1: A lot of people feel that college degrees comprise some kind of “Certification”. I haven�t felt a need for them.
Quote 2: When you make a name for yourself, your name trumps any “Certification” you might also have.
Quote 3: Testing Experts have – Trained reflexes; Testing Experts Do – Self-training and retraining
Best Solution is – Select some career stream & then pursue it
In testing there are two common career streams are there & these are
1) Technical Stream and 2) Managerial Stream.
1) Technical Stream: Within the testing domain we can find few of the following examples of technical jobs which can lead us from a beginner to an expert.
1) Automation Architect
2) Performance Tester
3) Scalability Tester
4) Systems Analyst
5) User Interface Analyst
6) Test Planner
7) Subject Matter Expert
8) Black Box Tester
Let us analyze the position you could have at the end of five years In case you happen to acquire any one of the above specialties.
By all probabilities, you would be the lowest paid person if you happened to be an excellent black box manual tester or a subject matter expert having excellent knowledge on the subject compared to testing techniques. Pay for performance and scalability testers might be slightly better. But if you happen to be an expert automation architect or automation programmer, probably you would be getting highest pay & prestige & must be enjoying better employment possibilities.
Even as a tester you can command exceptionally better pay packet & at the same time make your position more important & valuable for your present employer by:
1) Learning a wide range of testing techniques, and
2) Supplementing these techniques with good domain knowledge.
However, if you happen to be in an organization that is known for its little loyalty to the employees, it is better to develop more & more skills that are greatly valued in the market, even if they happen to be at the cost of your domain knowledge.
Best underlying principle of a success in career in testing: Try to identify the skills that are needed by your organization & acquire them.
2) Managerial Stream: In testing domain following are the few examples of managerial jobs that can be equally satisfying.
2) Test Manager
3) Director of Quality
4) Internal Consultant
5) External Consultant
Good Testers usually find better opportunities of promotion outside testing. It is well known that compared to the programmers, the testers usually get a broader view of the product. Testers get opportunity of dealing with leads & senior managers in most of the software-related matters of the company. Due to such an exposure with senior management, many skilled testers or managers get good opportunities to migrate into many respectable management positions, like the following:
1) Program Manager
2) Project Manager
3) Technical Support Manager
4) Product Manager
(In case you happen to be a domain experts possessing good technical skills)
5) Documentation Group Manager
6) Sales Support Manager
(For sophisticated software products)
Sales support managers usually accompany sales personnel and are experts in addressing technical issues raised during sales meetings and are responsible to develop prototypes of the product along-with the customer)
Under managerial stream there is another sub-stream of “Process Management” that is usually followed by some testers.
It includes roles like:
1) Software Metrics Specialist
2) Software Process Improvement Specialist
One should pursue the process management stream with lot of homework & care. Reason being – process management positions are not directly linked to the profitability or the development of the software product.
Moreover process management positions are a bit risky from the point of view of job stability. Such people are more vulnerable to pink slips. Generally lowly qualified people occupy such positions. Hence it is better to work for some time in areas like testing, programming, and marketing before deciding to take up a position of Metrics Specialist or Process Improvement Specialist.
If you’re not sure whether our advice applies to your culture, talk with some experienced colleagues.
An expert on R&D, Online Training and Publishing. He is M.Tech. (Honours) and is a part of the STG team since inception.