As I reach my second year of working, I've been asked to consider what other careers there may be there for me. What kind of future does software testing as a career have? Have a quick Google Search on the average pay of testers against developers , they are often lower. Sometimes, testers feel isolated from the team as they may not "add value" to the work that the team produces or left out because they are "just a tester". This is not just in software testing, this applies to all - We are not locked into the positions that we are in now. Similarly to people that work for companies that they dislike. There is a plethora of options out there, it's up to us to pursue it - How are you going to shape your software testing career?
The Technical route
Here is a not-so-comprehensive list of technical job titles that you can go to in testing
- Software Developer in Test
- Performance Tester
- Test Architect
- Test Engineer
- Manual Tester
There is a trend for testers to become more technical. Doing a quick google search on the average salary of an automation tester against a manual tester, there is a significant difference. The world is ever changing and we can not get left behind. Parts of testing simply need to be automated. However, we must be aware about finding the right balance between automated and manual testing. For the most part, I am testing a product as a representative of the customer, having a human touch remains to be of the most important thing.
A question that I keep posting. Without the understanding of the mission, some people may still want to automate all the testing work. Yet, they are not skilled at soft skills such as understanding customer goals and understanding the requirements. Imagine building a house without blueprints, Imagine planning to run a marathon without a clear training plan? Disastrous and painful. In every project we need to ask ourselves - What am I testing? Why am I testing? What does each stakeholder group expect to happen? How do I report what I do in a clear and concise manner?
Your interest or the company you work for?
You can make yourself more useful to the company you are working for by becoming more aware and helping out on wider business needs. This will command higher pay if you are helping out the business as a whole. However, is helping out on wider business needs what you truly want to do? If you want to become an automation tester and you're employer is not providing you training on expanding your technical skills and applying it on the job, you are better off somewhere else.
Pursue something else
Some people decide to go into software testing because they could not find a developer role. Understand that, you are not locked into testing. You are not locked into any role. You are not locked into any company. You are only locked by yourself.
Like the sunrise and sunset, business have cycles. There have been times when a particular job is all the rage then suddenly, there is very little demand for it. When the job market is open and employers are desparate, you can move with relative ease. Inversely, when the job market is tight, lots of opportunities are available when you are prepared.
You want to move into programming? Take courses. Everyone can find time during the week to learn a thing or two from online courses. After you gain a basic skill in a relevant language, offer to do some work on your own time for one of the programming teams no matter how small.
You want to start automating? Take an online course on whatever language your company is using. Similar to above, learn the basics and ask your manager to apply it. More often than not, they will be pleased that you have decided to spend some of your own time to improving your skills.
Pursue it actively
Whatever it is you want to do, active learning is the key. It's like the difference between a sharp and a dull knife, keep sharpening that mind of yours and you will be set.
This is your career. Your company might be willing to help you do career planning or not. If you have a direction and the determination, your company may be willing to pay for classes to let you try new things. This may only happen when your interests and your employer's interest is on the same wavelength.
Do not be discouraged if the company is not willing to pay for something of your own interest. You are building your career and you will invest in what interests you.
Extending your career
Speaking to a few people in different careers, they've all had different paths. Many of the happiest and most successful people move to different fields.
A different perspective
Let's face it, the majority of the tester's job is to find and criticize people's mistakes and it gets old. Life is abundant, there is not just one career out there, why should I not go out and experience other things? It does not necessarily have to be on the technical side of software development. Trying out to be a UX Designer or a Product Manager will give you more perspective, challenges, and insights into how different roles interact with each other. People who manage more than one function are often paid of a higher scale than the managers of one function alone.
Doing more than your job
This is your life. Imagine you get laid off tomorrow - What will you do? You still want to be a software tester, there are tons of jobs out there. There's a large number of software testing communities out there. You can write a blog, learn about different roles, give advice, and receive advice. By doing more than your job itself, you will become more employable and stand out more than the rest.
I still enjoy my job and the challenges that arise everyday. However, I always wonder what it's like to have a different role in the team. I ask myself - What would it be like in the day of X role? How would I act? How would people treat me? What is my mission?
Regardless of what stage you are in your career, there will always be foundational truths:
- Keep Learning
- Pursue your goals actively
- Always look from a different perspective
- Do more than what you're expected