May 23, 2012

If You Don't Really Want A Career In Software Testing - Stay Out!

Stay out!

Over the years, I've heard from a lot of folks that would "like to get into software testing". Usually, I encourage people, tell them what a great profession this is, and help them any way I can.

But sometimes, I sense either directly or indirectly that this is just an interim thing - that it's a stepping stone "because it's easier than being a developer" or "because there are a lot of easy-to-land jobs" or such. For some reason, I've been seeing a lot of that lately. And when it comes to my chosen profession, I'm tired of hearing that! copyrightjoestrazzere

  • If you don't want to work hard - stay out.
  • If you don't want to learn continuously for your entire career - stay out.
  • If you are looking for something simple and easy - stay out.

We don't need you!

  • We need people who want to be professional testers. 
  • We need people who want to work hard at something they care about.
  • We need people who are willing (and hopefully excited) to be a learner for their entire career.
  • We need people who aren't looking for the easy way out.

There was a time back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when software testing was indeed an easy entry job. The world was in the midst of the poorly named "Year 2000 Bug crisis" and lots of software needed fixing and testing. Lots of entry-level testing jobs were available, and people with little or no experience were being hired rapidly.

Those days are over.

For the most part these days, there are fewer and fewer entry-level jobs for software testers. I know that I haven't actually hired an entry-level tester for many years. And those beginner jobs which are available are harder to get, and for the most part are being offered to people who want to be professional software testers.

Here's an excerpt of a commencement address by Dom Capers (the defensive coordinator of the NFL Green Bay Packers):
What I'd like to share with you today is ... what I think are critical to success in any profession. Number one, and maybe the most important: Find something you love. Passion creates fuel. It creates the burning desire to do what we love 'til we go to bed at night. A passionate person with a little bit of talent will almost always outperform a passive person with great talent. The second thing is the law of compensation. The more you give, the more you get in return. It's a simple principle, but it's amazing how many people never figure it out ...
If you really want to be a Software Testing Professional - welcome!  How can I help?

If you are just looking for something quick and easy - Stay Out!

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at


  1. Hi Joe
    Great article, it was a pleasure reading it! I agree with you that passion is one of the most important ingredients for any job. When I hire people I am very much interested in whether or not an applicant's heart burns for testing. But not only that. It is a very positive sign if somebody has a passion outside of testing, too. I experience theses people as generally having a high energy level and that is something valuable for the testing profession.

  2. Thanks, Ilari.

    A high energy level goes a long way.

  3. Whilst I agree with the sentiment, I've found that a lot of testers found the profession by accident and then found they loved it. So people might not be passionate at the start but then find that they have found their vocation

    1. Fair enough.

      I wonder if those who found the profession by accident were looking for something easy and didn't want to work hard?

    2. Solid point made by the Terminator. Everyone I have ever asked has replied stating that they 'fell' into it. Myself included. For me it was a way out of a job that I hated at the time (call centre). So I generally get two versions of the I 'fell' into it reply.

      1. Hated was I was doing and it gave me a way out
      2. Seemed like a good stepping stone to programing/BA work

    3. I agree with Phil on this because I see me as an example. That was the time when I needed job was not sure what I should be at and fortunately got in to software testing. Testing was fun and still fun and is going to be fun. Coming to the working hard part of it, I can not blow my own trumpet.

  4. Great post. Software needs smart, hard working people, and that definitely goes for QA as well.

    My only quibble is with this:

    For the most part these days, there are fewer and fewer entry-level jobs for software testers. I know that I haven't actually hired an entry-level tester for many years.

    If this is the case, then how do people become testing professionals? Software testing isn't the only area where I think this is happening; true entry level jobs everywhere are becoming more scarce. Employers say that people should follow their passions, and only want the "best", most passionate people for certain roles. How are people supposed to find out if they're passionate or not without working in a role for a period of time? There might be internships/co-ops and open source projects, but what about genuine work opportunities?

    As noted above, software testing is already obscured a bit. Lots of people (myself included) only really get into it by accident. If there aren't entry-level positions out there, I worry that people won't get into testing and the field will suffer.

  5. It's difficult to be entry-level these days, but "fewer" doesn't mean "none". It just means that it's more difficult to find one of these jobs than it was in the late 1990's for example.

  6. Hi Joe,

    I love this article, and I wish it were the case consistently across locations that those who weren't passionate about quality we're being hired.

    I agree with everything that you said about what we need. I just went through several months knowing a few great software testers in need of work, and what they went through. In Seattle, there are two types of job openings I've seen.

    1. We want a coding SDET, testers need not apply. This job means you are judged on your coding skills in one language, usually on a white board. Maybe you will do some coding test, but if so it will be alone, so your ability to collaborate won't be considered. Nearly everyone getting these jobs has a CS degree or equivalent programming experience. Testing experience is often seen as an OBSTACLE, not a plus. Still, if you want to be paid a livable wage, this is the category to be in. In this category, tool knowledge is vital because your work will be judge by metrics reported from tools rather than actual contribution to quality team software. If you want to be promoted, best to game the system. Silly things like code reviews, writing good tests that catch bugs & are maintainable down stream are not as important as writing many tests that get the code coverage numbers up fast, and work quickly. Training people about testing isn't important unless it helps them make the tools report higher numbers of code coverage or raise someone's confidence who don't know how to do your job.

    Category 2: Manual Tester Limbo. These are jobs that pay well below industry average. The question is, how cheap can I get someone who can run quality center tests, write a bug report, or basically help me fill out my pie chart of tests run. They would LIKE experienced testers, but they just hope there are some left from Category 1 who are desperate enough to work for them. I've seen abuse of people needing H1B visas in this category, where they are able to pay much less. If you walk into the test lab & all you see are females who were born in India, be afraid. There are some managers who believe culturally these women won't ever complain or cause trouble, therefore are perfect manual testers. I say this knowing that some of the very best testers in the world ARE females from India, but those specifically looking for inexperience so their employees will do work without question? I have ethical concerns when there is ANY bias or stereotype being used for hiring.

    Type 3: There are some amazing jobs out there! People looking for passion, talent, & experience. It's just really hard to weed them out from the top 2 jobs. There are great SDET jobs that want balanced people with experience. There are even still some good manual testing jobs looking for advanced exploratory test chartering skills. I'm working for a client doing a combination project manager/quality infrastructure/tester/SDET job right now for a team I enjoy. It's not perfect, and I have my days when I miss doing the same, reliable job every day where the goals only change once a quarter. I NEVER miss the company meetings that are full of buzzwords or the new metrics measurement scam of the year that we're playing. I am one of the lucky testers working in a job that I enjoy. I hope to see the demand for flexible, self educating, lifelong learning/teaching testers become in the sort of a demand that a similar developer would be in. It concerns me that I don't see that in the market right now in my area, and I consider it a duty & honor to help demonstrate & educate anyone I can on why it matters.

  7. AnonymousMay 23, 2012

    Agreed. I am working on a company have lot of testers. But we did not utilize them efficiently. Also, most of us did not have a testing degree.

  8. JMG the field is already suffering because there are too many brain dead numpties calling themselves testers - to the extent that non-testers think that that's normal. I'm all for workplaces becoming *much* more discerning about who they hire as a tester. I don't want to work with zombies and I don't want to wade through their resumes when I'm looking for skilled people.

    There will probably always be those who put short term dollar value before the hiring of skilled people that will save you money in the long run, so there will always be opportunities for the testing dead, but if there is a pattern of things becoming more difficult for them, then that's a good thing.

    For people who are passionate and do want to get into the industry - it's an opportunity for them to show how passionate they are. They'll have to put effort into finding a job. They might choose to enter a mentorship program (I believe House of Test has just started one), or you might like to look at some coaching. Build your reputation testing open source software, do Weekend Testing, attend a conference or two. There are avenues out there for those who are passionate and willing to do something about it.

  9. I got into testing because Joe, you simply made it look fun and I saw your passion years ago at SoftBridge. You gave me passion for testing or perhaps you opened that door. I think if you have a great mentor as I did, and I try to instill in others, the passion does come. What I have found in many candidates is "I just want a job and do minimal amount of work." Perhaps it's not passion for testing necessarily but a work ethic and pride in your work combined with passion for what you do. I continue to learn because, well, testing is always interesting. Discovery and exploring is always interesting. I wonder if the personality of wanting to continually discover and explore with a strong sense of self discipline is necessary or can you develop the wanting to discover and explore traits? In the end, I completely agree, if the passion is not there, if the interest is not there, do not bother.

  10. Thank, Jean Ann - you are too kind.

    You are good at what you do because you are willing to work hard and to learn.

  11. Hi Joe,
    I was a beginner in Testing Career when I found your site by Google search six months ago. I entered this profession with much passion, love and dreams too. But I had only basics, no clear Ideas about customizing testing process, tools and techniques that much suits me and much productive to my company. I built my testing world with learning's from your site and now that's found to be different, effective testing process in the company. Thanks for all

  12. Thank you, Mohankumar. Passion, love and dreams go a long way. Good luck with your career!

  13. See I'm another person that fell into testing, I'm still new, only worked at my place since November but already I've found it to be a great fit.

    It does seem the testing environment is quite different here in the UK though to over the pond.

  14. Hi Joe, how are you,
    I have completed my's) I am interested in joining the IT field.
    So, as a beginner what do you think I have to choose Testing or Developing. Can u also tell me which is the easier to learn. As I have to join classes first before taking a step in IT

  15. Only you can decide what you want to do with your career. If you want to be a Developer, be a Developer.

    Don't choose your career based on what someone tells you is easier to learn. "Ease of learning" should not even be on your list of attributes for new graduates.

    Frankly, if you are looking for "easy", you should probably stay out of software altogether. As I said above "If you are just looking for something quick and easy - Stay Out!"