Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All wannabe software testers out there …

An anonymous comment posted on my blog read “hi i am non IT background i want to do software testing course in india. if some give me some of the institution in india who teach very well that help u when u get job for software testing and ISTQB test exam.”

Nothing new here, I receive mails regularly asking for suggestion on how to get on a fast track for software testing and get a job. This particular post has three dangerous things that I see – which a new entrant in software testing should be aware of and avoid them.

“Software Testing course” – Let me tell you from my experience – there no such course in world that can make you a tester worth a job overnight. Any course that claims to do is a complete hoax and fraud. Shorter the course duration and taller the claims made by it – deadlier it is. Folks – be aware of such courses that claim you to get a testers job – please don’t fall into the trap. Another dangerous mix or variation here is – claim of “teaching automation or one or more world leading automation tool”. If you want to be software tester - no matter whether you are from IT or non IT background – don’t waste your money and/or time on such courses.

“ISTQB” (replace this with any popular testing certification” – while much has been written by my colleagues and many real life (not so pleasant) experiences out there – I would want to touch upon one thing. ISTQB or for that matter any testing certification WILL NOT teach you how to DO testing and how to gain expertise at it. That is their limitation. Please understand it. Considering certifications as businesses making money – teaching testing and assessing testing skill of a candidate in real time is not their cup of tea. Real certifications and exams that do subjective assessment of testing skill – are not scalable and hence certification people can’t make fast money.

ISTQB and other certifications have done one thing well – marketing. In India, many organizations and recruiters insist one or other testing certification as a must for an entry level testing job. In some others, attaining certifications is a criterion for promotion. Sad state of affairs – though. Sad – because it sets a wrong precedent. It creates wrong expectations among entrants and companies that hire these newbies. It creates a wrong image about software testing in general and at times it trivializes the craft. I have people telling me how easy was to pass a certification exam when they had no prior background or practice about testing. At the most you can get to know some terms used in testing and their fixed meaning as used by a specific group of people. Worst - in some cases they are taught as though those terms have universal meaning and acceptance.

Getting Job – this is third danger in the wannabe’s should avoid. While in some cases you might be lucky get a job using some testing course or certification (hiring process for software testing in India – lot needs to improve – but that is a different topic) – you will not survive long unless you practice real testing – get your hands dirty, feel and learn to think like tester. I can relate software testing skill to that of a musician. If you want to be an expert guitarist – what would you do? Take a 2 week course and a certification (theory) exam and claim a professional guitarist job? As taking a 2 week guitar crash course will not make you a competent – taking a software testing course will not prepare you for a professional career. Similarly learning few words and vocabulary related to music and guitar – will not help you to give performances – though knowing common words and their meanings can be helpful. This is not much different with respect to software testing – getting an ISTQB can help you to know words like “regression testing” and “severity of a software bug” – but those are mere words. Role of ISTQB ends there and real work of practicing testing starts.

In a nutshell – if you are reading this post, is someone who is trying to make it to software testing, want to get an IT job in software testing – here is what you need to keep in mind

Don’t do these things:

  1. Look for or ask for software testing institute that gives a software testing course (shorter the better. One that guarantees job – the gem)
  2. Taking a certification – especially when you have no clue on what is software testing.
  3. Look for job on the basis of 1 and 2 above.
  4. Don’t take a crash course on automation or automation tools in order to get a software testing job.
  5. Take shortcuts

Do these things (few of things that personally helped me in my career) – Try them

  1. Have a time horizon of 1-2 years to the minimum and a complete dedication to learn and practice software testing
  2. Get a mentor – there are many willing to mentor if you show real passion and dedication. Read software testing blogs and engage in conversation. Use social media to your advantage – blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedIn. Make your presence felt as hungry, passionate new comer in software testing – let world notice you. Build reputation.
  3. Practice testing - A platform I recommend is weekendtesting.

Any questions?