A career in testing

A student told me: “I like to work with code and be a software tester. Many people told me that is a “worst job” since the wage is low and the work is hard. No one respect testers because it is the lowest skill in software development. Is it true? Please advise”.

Answer: As I have mentioned in previous articles, there are two types of software testers: Entry-level and Professional. Many people start their careers as entry-level testers then move on to work as developers, designers, project managers. However, some people stay in testing and become professional testers. These people explore new techniques, new methodologies and continue to improve their skills with changing technology. The difficult for many software developers is how to distinguish these two types since they both have the same job description as “Tester” although their skills are so far apart. Some developers consider testers as “entry-level” position because that is what they start in their first job. That is a mistake since there are professional testers who have a lot of experiences and they definitely in a much higher positions, higher wages then developer, technical leader and project manager.

Every project needs testers, every company wants testers and professional tester is always in high demand. That is why it is difficult to recruit professional testers because most companies keep them and treat them well because they know that their product quality is depending on these professional tester’s skills. Few years ago, a former student told me that he had to explain to a new manager what he actually did all day since he did not code or design. Even he had often provide guidelines on how to create a quality strategy to senior executive to improve the quality of company’s products. I told my former student to let the new manager know that “As a “tester”, all he did is to look at developers’ code but get paid a lot of money, even more then the new manager’s wage. As “tester” he was often called to advise the president of the company on how to improve software quality”. I am sure that may be a “shock” to that inexperienced new manager.

I think it is time to clear the misunderstanding about the job of testers since many people do not know what testers do, especially among new managers and inexperienced developers. The fact is most professional testers work independently and quietly. They prefer to work with code, not with people so few people know about them or what they do. I believe it is time for Testers, Developers, Managers and senior manager to be brought together and understand their specific roles and responsibilities. There are a lot of works in software development, everybody contribute to the product from their own roles and skills. There is no such thing as “better jobs” or “worst jobs”. If you like what you are doing, if you are happy as tester then pursue the professional tester career. Your job is probably more secured than other jobs. Testers have helped improve software quality a lot already but they need to improve their image as well.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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