Congratulations, you’ve just landed your first role as a Software Tester. What’s next, I hear you ask?

QA career progression

The job has started and you are gradually getting your feet under the desk. More than likely, you’ll be working in an agile environment because a majority of companies will work to some form of agile. As you’re sat at your desk, you might be thinking – I wonder what kind of things I can do to drive my career forward?

Progressing Your QA Career

Commitment & Mindset

Commitment to being a Software Tester is key to your future prospects and how you want to develop yourself. Even at this early stage, becoming committed to having a career in testing is the first challenge you will face. You now have opportunities to learn the foundations of testing that will take you to future roles, so having the mindset to realize the importance of “small things” and being someone who thinks outside the box will take you far. Train yourself to think like a user and remember you’re there to test the software’s integrity in advance of it becoming a live release.

Knowledge

Generally speaking, there will always be someone more knowledgeable about a specific area than yourself. You might have a Performance Tester on your team or an Automation Tester who writes in a language you’re keen to improve. Try to draw on their knowledge. Most likely, all you’ll have to do is ask about how they run tests or to show you how something works. You are on the same team and working to the same goals so they will be happy to help you. And don’t be afraid to ask the same questions again if you need to. You’re learning and picking up new technologies and they know that. There are extra ways to gain knowledge, of course. There are some good online learning resources such as Udemy available, as well as plenty of books out there for people who prefer reading.

Qualifications

You may hear colleagues or managers mentioning an ISEB or an ISTQB. These are certified testing qualifications that are often accessed as three-day courses followed by a 40-question multiple choice exam, which is then marked either as pass or fail. Having one of these qualifications on your CV can enhance your job prospects or even advance your career with your current employer but it won’t instantly turn you into a good tester. It’s what you do in the workplace that ultimately defines your abilities.

Experience

Gaining a broad experience in testing will help you to develop different skills and give you a better platform for building your career. Manual testing will help you to learn the front end of the software inside and out, and it can be an advantage if you have a good eye for detail. Most testing roles today require an element of automating because it saves time, so having automation experience on your CV can open up so many doors. Experience in other areas, such as performance testing or security testing can also be of benefit.

Specialisation

Specialising in a particular area allows you to increase knowledge and experience, so advancing your expertise. Although it’s helpful to know a bit about different areas, being a real expert in one or two could be more useful to those you work for and ultimately, for yourself.

Team Management

One day, you may have the opportunity to manage. If this happens, grab it with both hands. Even though it will be nerve wracking at first, if you have the talent and the people skills then gaining the respect of your team should come naturally. There are two ways to get into management. You could be hired into a team that has already been integrated into a business and progress from there, or you could be part of a growing business that eventually finds there is too much work for one person alone. Before you know it, what started with you as the sole tester is now a five-strong team with you in charge. At that point, your focus will be more on process than the actual software testing. You will also be concentrating on new ways to improve your team output so the group effort will still produce work at the same speed as when it was just you.

Finally

Being a tester isn’t easy. You have to take the rough with the smooth but primarily, you have to enjoy being a tester. A big part of the role is being passionate about the software you will be testing. It’s the best feeling in the world when a product goes live that you’ve slaved over and that without you, that moment would not have arrived. Having a career as a QA tester is not an easy path but with dedication, it can be very rewarding.