AMA: junior QA professional development

Mark asks…

What advice would you give to a talented junior QA who wanted to advance their career in software testing? Assume that they have no formal training in testing and have worked their way up from a junior IT role in an unrelated area.

My response…

I strongly believe you create what you will, so if someone’s willing to take control of their own testing career then they will have a mighty fine one at that.

I find there’s two key components to a career in software testing, and they’re quite opposite roles/skills so it’s worthwhile focusing on both:

  1. Developing skills in human exploratory testing: effectively finding the most important bugs fast. Whilst this skill can developed, I have found it’s mostly a mindset.
  2. Developing skills in test automation: having the ability to collaborate on and implement automated regression tests so a tester can spend more time on point 1.

In terms of resources for professional development for human testing for a tester I would recommend the following:

Books: some books cover the basics: agile testing, specification by example, pride and paradev.

Blogs: I’ve mentioned some blogs I read. There’s also the fantastic 5blogs feed as well which covers some great testing articles each day – so they can follow that.

Conferences: there’s a good site which lists every testing conference, and coming up in Australia is Australian Testing Days 2016 and the ANZTB Conference both next month and both in Melbourne, and CukeUp! Australia later in the year. Internationally I recommend GTAC and the Selenium Conference(s).

In terms of test automation skills, I am finding software developers are much more commonly interested in automated testing than I have found say 5 or 10 years ago. This has two benefits:

  1. Software developers can up-skill testers on their technical programming and automation tasks; and
  2. Software developers can take on some of this responsibility so technical testers can spend more time testing

In terms of building up test automation skills on one’s own, it’s never been easier or more accessible.

Two of the most popular testing tools of all time (Selenium/WebDriver and Cucumber/Specflow) are free and open source and available in all mainstream programming languages and platforms so there really isn’t an excuse not to learn them on one’s own.

If someone was just starting out and platform-agnostic I’d recommend starting with cucumber and watir-webdriver in ruby (because it’s so easy) and buy Cheezy’s book ‘Cucumber & Cheese‘ to learn how.

If you combine all of these together with a willing attitude it’s easy to develop great testing skills.

Finally, Nas has some good career advice:

I know I can
Be what I wanna be
If I work hard at it
I’ll be where I wanna be


Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

2 thoughts on “AMA: junior QA professional development”

  1. I can only agree that junior need to improve skills in automated testing. Automated testing is a key to less bugs in software.


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