What next for Software testers ? - After coming across this question in various forum's and seeing lot of confusion among the testing community i thought of penning down my opinion on the same based on the current industry situation.
So now before you start reading this blog, just pause here ..... if you are a software tester,ask yourself where do you want to see yourself after 5 years ?
In my opinion a software tester with any number of experience can aim for the below two roles,
a) Technical Role ,
b) Management Role .
Lets start with what we have in store if you choose to be in the Management Role,
Management Role -
A) Have you ever thought that Management role can be influenced by your geographic location ? In my opinion it does. Here is what different continents offer in terms of management roles in testing.
Europe - European software market is largely a flatter structure. The technical roles can expect a higher pay or increased pay (as consultant's) whereas management role has a pay cap. So if you are okay with a pay cap at some point of your career , then you can opt for position's like QA Lead , QA coach and Test manager.Also there are roles like People manager which will be non technical and will involve work like recruitment, salary revision, career discussion etc.Not mentioning UK after brexit as i am not sure which model they will follow now ;).
America - American software market is largely dominated by usa, canada and brazil. In USA , 10 years back it was more of a hierarchical structure and since salary is not that way capped it might still be valid. However due to the growth of agile and devops, some companies have moved into a flatter structure. So in conclusion i would say its a mixed situation which will allow both management and technical roles to earn equivalent salary and have demand because the economy will still support it. Hence be open to work on any role.
Asia - When i say asia, one of the large software market is india. In india in majority, having lot of people in a team or the concept of having large team continue to be affordable compared to other markets, hence the positions like Test lead , QA lead , Test manager etc is valid. Salary hike and other perks are influenced by the designation, and hence such positions are still lucrative.In general asian's prefer hierarchical structure.This might be applicable in other parts of asia as well including UAE.Hence if you belong to this geographic location , be happy your role is not yet diminished ( note - still not diminished but trend is changing).
Africa - When we say africa,mainly its South africa wherein the software industry is governed by large MNC bank's.These bank's invest heavily on software quality and R&D.Hence affording a manager and lead roles is not a problem.
Oceania - Not Discussing in the blog as i have no experience working with that part of the world. However my guess is they must be following the american structure.So adapt based on the same.
B) Company size - The key aspect of test management positions are also governed by company size which can overwrite above geographic considerations. Smaller the company, more focus on profit than R&D and quality,so more engineer positions than lead positions. Bigger the company,better focus on CMMI level, quality, security and R&D,so more people managers. Hence irrespective of where you located geographically, the budget , profit share can decide the management positions. Hence you can be rest assured that in a large MNC of more than 10000 people, you might be considered for promotions to Lead test positions as people management is a key aspect. In smaller company of say 500 or less people, you might be the only tester among 100 dev's who is expected to Test, Manage , Coach and recruit people. However you will learn a lot.Hence make your choices accordingly.
Technical Role - If you are passionate about technology and testing then you might never want to leave a technical test role. Wherein everyday you will be working with creating test data, writing automated test's, updating functional test's or helping with load test etc. The career path for such people are below,
1) TestOps Consultant- Be part of the devops team and take care of everything related to testing including identifying bugs in the build pipe,load test and security.
2) SDET - Software development engineer in test - To read more about the same, go through my blog on https://blog.testproject.io/2020/10/15/who-is-a-sdet/
3) Automation architect - The automation architect sets enterprise-wide, institutional standards and best practices for software configurations, documentation, and testing, with regards to automation.
4) Performance test consultant
5) Security test consultant
Other Roles ?
a) Scrum master or BA - In my opinion i will never recommend a passionate tester to move to SM or BA role as these roles are primarily non technical roles and i highly consider testing to be a technical job.Also testing as a craft should not be diluted with such roles. Even if you are a test manager, or in a test leadership role you are supposed to have some amount of technical skills and be prepared to have handson when required specially during the current changing market trends.If you are still interested in such roles may be that is your passion and hence it might not be good to persist with testing.
Use hashtag in linkedln - #testingistechnical
b) AI , Devops ,Machine learning - Again these are either a new trend or a process or technology. This will change in few years but software testing concepts will still apply. So please dont get confused with these trends as a ladder to testing.If such trends attract you, may be you should try development or robotics and switch from testing.
How do you make the Switch - Now that we are clear what are the two primary path's to opt for , how do you switch between roles or choose one.
a) Suppose you are a Test lead and want to change to performance test consultant - One fine morning in the weekend, google the same. Yes its as simple as that. Check different topics on performance testing. Youtube tutorials, download tools like jmeter. Practice hands on and try a demo project. After 3 months, seek role in your own organization. If no roles are available,given , seek roles outside. In the interview mention your primary experience and mention you practiced the tool youself. Crack a valid use case during the interview and any intelligent mind will be okay to have you. At your part you do understand you will be starting a new role, so make your mindset same as a fresher, adapt and learn.
b) Suppose you are a automation tester and want to move into test management role - One fine evening , check the below,
1) Are you good with communication ? ,
2) Are you polite and humble enough ,
3) Do you understand that when you are a people manager , its not just people reporting to you, but you reporting to them as well.
4) Do you understand cultural differences
5) Are you technical enough ? Do you understand some developers/handson testers might think they know more than you and you know how to not get into any argument
6) Do you have more than 10 years of experience ?
If the answers to above is yes, then please go ahead and seek role inside and outside your organization.Keep trying till you get it. If the answer of any of the above is NO, you are in a bubble !
Conclusion - As highlighted in the blog you can make a decision about your career as a QA based on the factors highlighted. In general industry trend is more focussed on agile and devops and hence your choices should be accordingly aligned.Never get demotivated that you are not getting promoted or not getting enough recognition in your current role as par your fellow dev. Self motivation and collaborating with other testers in various platforms is a way to go forward.Sometimes just take a break and choose the path which excites you !
About the Author - https://www.linkedin.com/in/aniruddha-biswas-122838182/