How to Get Into Software Testing from a Non-IT field?
IT industry emerged to be a popular and glamorous career choice in the recent times. More and More individuals who have not been in the field want to try their hands at it. This is great, because technological inclination, fairly good pay, global outreach, challenging positions and scope for innovation are few plus-s of an IT career.
In this context, the go-to branch of IT that attracts everyone is QA or of the software testing stream. This is perfect too because QA is a great career choice in itself with lots of advancement opportunities. Or QA can be your introduction into IT that helps get firsthand knowledge of other areas, to determine your true calling in IT.
All good so far, but the question is “HOW” to start and emerge successfully? This is the very question we will address in today’s article.
Let me set something straight before we go any further. The following points are not the ingredients for a recipe- you are not going to get the same outcome every single time. These are some pointers that have helped few others before, so we put together a list that could help you too.
Here we go…
#1. Soul Searching: Find the reason for your entry to IT or specifically to software testing field. Because sooner or later you will have to explain it and it is best to know the answer to this question first for yourself.
#2. Market research: Check out the job listings in your area. Talk to your friends and acquaintances. Online job portals and forums can be of great help too. Find information about: demand for IT QA positions, pay scale, work culture, skills/technologies desired, challenges involved etc.
#3. Get a taste of it: With the kind of exposure we have to information these days, it will only take a few minutes and few clicks on your computer to find an online resource that can get you started. Try it. See if this is something you have an aptitude for.
#4. Start getting trained: Some of us are great self-learner while other needs a little help. This is the time to get started on gaining skills. Focus on fundamentals. Find a class if it helps- there are a choice of online, offline (computer-based) and classroom sessions. Choose what works best for you. Do not try to learn everything at once. Target one skill at a time, do complete justice, and set yourself a deadline and target proficiency level and work for it. There really is no cheat code to this step.
#5. Get certified: Invest some effort, time and money to get certified. This could aid your IT-QA entry smoother. This does not automatically qualify for a job opening, but it helps.
#6. Apply for jobs, when ready: Build skills because that could compensate for the lack of experience as a beginner. Again, find resources and courses that will help you master the skills. Make yourself a killer resume that is skill-based and not-experience based. Be confident and persevere. Remind yourself that there are the lot of factors that have to come together to bag a successful job when the odds are against us – job openings, market situation, the timing, the demand in your area and finally, a little bit of lady luck. :)
Now that we have the list, give it a try. It helps to remember that this is what you want and nothing is sweeter than the fruits of hard work. Be confident through the entire process and stay motivated.
However, there are lots of lingering questions in the pursuer’s minds. Below are 10 of them with answers:
Q1. How can I move to IT?
The above points should answer this.
Q2. When is a good time?
Now is as good a time as any. :)
Q3. Am I qualified?
Only you can answer this. If you have had a computer science or IT related education, it would be a big plus. However, not being from that background does not automatically disqualify you.
Q4. Can my non-IT experience be useful?
Maybe, Maybe not. IT industry has a wide reach. If you have worked in a Bank or a school, there are applications related to banking and education as well. So, it might come in handy. On the other hand, you might totally have to work in an unrelated field. Domain knowledge expertise is important but for beginners, the focus should be on IT and how it supports the business but not the business itself.
Q5. How am I going to explain the shift to IT field?
Again, this is something only you answer. Check point 1 in the list – Soul searching. Find your reason and unabashedly, unapologetically explain. Nobody needs to know what they want to do for a living as soon as we are born. Even if we did, we always have a choice to change our minds. Find your reason and explain it. If you are IN for the money- say that in a positive light. E.g.: You wanted a career that is challenging intellectually, has a scope for future innovations and monetarily more beneficial. Stand by your decision.
Q6. How long would it take to find a job?
I won’t lie to you. It will not be right away. Most can find it in few months, although for others it may take a year (or even years!). It takes some time, patience, lots of learning and endless pursuit. But there are lots of success stories out there. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere.
Q7. If I take a class, can I be automatically compensated for the lack of non-computer science background?
No. But a class can help you learn a lot effectively, even though it might give you any accreditation.
Q8. What skills do I have to learn to start as a Software Tester?
You will need to know all about fundamental SDLC, manual testing concepts, a working knowledge of MS office suite, Test management/defect management tool understanding to start with. SQL, UNIX and Automation testing basics might be desired. Excellent communication skills and positive attitude are mandatory. Please note that this list is generic and you might have to adapt based on the position you are aspiring for.
Start reading all STH articles to get yourself familiar with this field practically.
Q9. Why would companies hire me without any experience?
If it were true that only experienced people would find work, no industry would have newcomers, ever. We all know that is not true. There is always an influx of employees and some of them are always new. Unless you consider yourself not job ready, don’t let lack of experience bring you down. It is true that after all these years; you still have to start fresh- which might feel like you are reinventing the wheel or joining last in the race. But think of it as a new beginning. After all, it is what you wanted.
Q10. What about my pay? Will I have to pay less or underpaid for a few years?
Again, Yes and No. IT jobs are some of the best paying jobs. So, you might still be making a reasonable amount of money. On the contrary, you might have to find some freelancing or volunteering experience in the beginning that is not great monetarily. There is no one route that will guarantee you a said salary, it all depends on how good you are and what kind of opportunities come across.
Finally, a bonus question for future-software-testers:
Why software testing? If you feel like you are taking an easy route or backdoor entry into IT through QA, probably it’s not a good idea to pursue software testing field. QA is as good a field as any. When you hear the question, “Why QA?” think, “why not QA?” QA is an excellent way to start your career. Be sure to take pride in your choice of QA Testing field and see you around soon.
Good luck future IT-ians!
About the Author: These questions are answered by STH team member and our Software Testing Online course instructor Swati S.
Let us know if we did not answer any question that you have in mind about a career switch from Non-IT to Software testing field.