The software testing field has such a stereotype: the best way to develop as a QA engineer is to gradually study automation basics and related technics of web software testing. But, actually, it’s not true.
Today there are numerous specialized fields of professional development, numerous job openings for popular roles, and positions that are valued in the same way as automation.
Further, we’ll talk about such development.
Skill certification as a proper way of professional development
Certification as a form of documented proof of tester’s professional skills is a great and proper activity and sometimes its presence is an important part while passing a job interview in a software testing company.
The reason is that the usefulness of any certification is reaching some fixed and ordered set of special skills that are needed for a certain field of professional activity at some particular moment. It’s great!
Today the main way to gain new skills for a tester is to read articles that can be a good source of useful knowledge but are very basic.
If a QA engineer constantly reads the news feed of a special IT website and thinks that he/she gains some skills in such a way, he/she is absolutely wrong.Such information is rapidly forgotten, is not completely structured, and doesn’t make a person create necessary associations.
And certification is an absolutely different thing.
First, you don’t need to pass it in an official form (you can search the net for up-to-date and necessary information on a necessary topic and understand what is currently needed and what is not (testing tools, manual testing methods and so on).
Second, with the help of such information, you can create a plan of professional preparation.
So how should a tester develop his/her skills if he/she feels that has outgrown the job of a manual tester but doesn’t want to be an automated tester?
The answer lies in 2 equal categories:
- Become a manager;
- Become an expert.
Let’s analyze these two separate types more thoroughly.
This position offers a common tester the following roles:
- Delivery manager;
- Release manager;
- QA manager.
All these positions don’t require complete development and enhancement of technical skills.
Such QA experts should only completely understand and know the principles of software quality management, know the process of testing from the inside, know the peculiarities of the technologies used in a company and know how to build interrelations between testing processes at primary stages of software deployment.
It has some interrelations with skills needed for applicants for Product manager and Project manager positions:
- Collaboration with stakeholders;
- Evaluation of the set tasks;
- Risk management.
We should also mention that not all companies have the position of a QA manager in their office.
This usually depends on the current hierarchy of a company, the level of engagement of certain positions in a team, or a separate project.
Some companies locate testers in a separate section or a whole department and others think that a tester is a common member of the development team.
This has both positive and negative sides.
The advantage of being a field manager is that he/she has useful knowledge that he can share with newcomers.
Such a benefit can be also applied to the position of a QA lead.
The professional development of his/her subordinates is his/her primary task.
The second advantage lies in the presence of communication between a manager and a group of testers.
Such an approach has only one disadvantage: possible conflict of professional interests between a test manager and a team lead.
And this confrontation can be very big if there is more than one project and work is done in one complete flow.
Any expert’s role usually means having high professional qualification but together with the professional development of a tester, it’s just a parallel branch that means enhancement of a certain specific field of professional skills.
Expert’s group may offer the following positions:
- Performance specialist;
- Usability specialist;
- Security specialist.
If a QA engineer decides to develop in the performance testing field, he/she should pay attention to such things as understanding the internal structure of application’s architecture, understanding the methodology and types of performance testing, ability to use tools for such tests, analysis and ability to use tools for monitoring and logging.
UI/UX field is a very interesting way of professional development. Today testing the compatibility with various browsers, operating systems, and screen dimensions and also optimizing the number of variations is quite popular.
As for the software security field, the certification is really crucial here.
But a QA engineer should understand that credible certification in this field requires proven experience in software system security.
It has numerous fields:
- Penetration testing
- Security testing
- Compliance testing
So you have the possibility to choose from different fields but you should remember that it has its ways of changing the position.
A person will develop if he/she gradually tries to work in different fields, to completely understand what he/she likes, and if he/she likes something, to pay special attention to a specific field.
Such moving is possible without a big decrease in salary.
And don’t say no to this variant because of a salary level. If it’s a transfer inside one company, you shouldn’t worry much about the level of possible income.
Sometimes there are situations when after growing to a certain level in a professional field, QA specialists dramatically change their professional field and completely move to management or system analysis fields. There are numerous examples of this.
We can also mention the situation when a tester moves to a development department but everything is quite different here and requires numerous professional skills. But such a method can be used by those who like the development process, though such specialists are likely to be developed from committed automated testers.
We should finally mention that a testing field, namely manual testing, has not died completely.
Even such giants as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft constantly search for specialists.
The presence of such job openings means that if a person doesn’t want to develop in an automated tester, he/she can easily find his/her place in various fields of web software testing process (from management to the position of the one who is responsible for system security).