Software testing as a career

This post is part of the Pride & Paradev series.

What do I think of software testing as a career?

Software Testing is the Worst Career on the Planet

It’s amazing how quickly you tire of testing the same thing over again in Internet Explorer 7 because the programmers don’t use Internet Explorer and hadn’t thought to test it in that.

The harder you work at finding bugs the lazier the developers become at letting them through.

People constantly question you about why you’re still a software tester and haven’t turned into a programmer yet as though technical specialism is a natural career progression.

Lots of people call themselves software testers because they’ve played with software over a couple of years and attended a testing certification course over a couple of days. You’re grouped into the same group as those people.

Just when you think you’ve got a user story tested in three different operating systems, four devices and eight browsers, the programmer decides to ‘refactor’ their code, or switch to a more in vogue JavaScript framework, rendering all your testing work void because every screen you have tested no longer functions.

And they expect you to test it by the end of the iteration which happens to be today.

Despite what iterative development brings testing always gets squeezed and you’re expected to constantly go above and beyond to get things done.

Career progression means either becoming a specialist ‘automated tester’ or a test manager, one involves writing code, that no one ever sees, the other usually involves writing wordy template driven test strategies, again, that no one ever sees.

But the absolutely worst thing about being a software tester is the distrust you develop in software. You constantly see software at its worst: it’s hard to believe that any software can be developed that actually works without any issues. This means you hold a deep breath every time you hit submit on a credit card form, praying that it will actually work and not crash and charge your credit card three times.

Software Testing is the Best Career on the Planet

Some days I am amazed at how much fun my job is. I get to play with cool gadgets: I have four smart phones and an iPad on my desk, use three operating systems and eight browsers on a daily basis.

I get to look at software from all different angles: from a user’s point of view, from the business/marketing view, from a technical viewpoint and try all kinds of crazy things on it.

I get to really know and understand how a system works from end-to-end, and get to know its quirks and pitfalls. Finding bugs prevents them from being released into Production and causing someone else a great inconvenience.

I develop great relationships with programmers who like the feedback I give, and business people who I work with to develop acceptance criteria and discuss issues in business terms and how they will be effected.

I get to understand code, database schema, servers and browsers. I am involved in automating acceptance tests. I get to go to awesome software testing conferences around the world to meet other testers.

I get to tell my family about all the cool things I’ve tested and they get excited to occasionally see things I have worked on in the media etc.

It’s a really cool career.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

12 thoughts on “Software testing as a career”

  1. “First thing in the morning, people give me garbage – that’s how I know my day has started.”

    I used this line from ‘Kids in the hall’ to describe how lazy some of the devs had become with the expectation I would pull their arses out of the fire.


  2. I was loving my career and then I read the second bit of the post :( Next time, can you start with the negative and end with the positive? ;)
    Great blog post.


  3. The funny thing is it’s not either the best or the worst career choice :) I mean we all have experience things from both the lists (OK not as many from the first list :)) but to me it’s always boils down to do you enjoy it?
    When you enjoy something you read about it, when you read about it you always find new things to learn, understand and experiment with and you start answering the questions posed in the second list.

    Really enjoying the Pride & Paradev series. Keep it up.


  4. I think developers have a lot of boring task too, maybe even much more than we have: New project came so until they will made some new and interesting for them activities a lot of usual things should be done before


  5. Hi All,

    I would like to know if you could rank the best Software Testing Certifications out there, and why would you choose one over the others.


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