What is the successful journey for testers in their professional life?
The most common thoughts with experienced testers and doubtful questions with those who start their career as tester will be as below.
- How many years it will take to become QA Manager or Test Manager?
- What do I have to do to become QA Manager or Test Manager?
- Can I reach higher responsible positions in my present company?
- What is the maximum salary I can be offered in this field?
- Can I continue in Testing or shift to Development for great achievements?
The above queries seem to be simple and can be easily answered by someone who has travelled one or two decades in the IT software industry.
But it cannot satisfy or convince the testers in the real field who have the passion to grow, want to be recognized and reach the heights while earning big salary packages.
This article will take you on a professional journey and give you suggestions for each stage of your travel to be rewarded and recognized by your reporting authorities as well as by your management to achieve your goals, which can be summarized as below:
Professional Journey of a tester to Manager:
A testers experience and career goals:
|Journey||Stage||Roles & Responsibilities||Goals & Target|
|Journey #1||0-2 years||Understand test process, writing executing test cases, participate in project & organizational initiatives.||Efficient tester, team player, good communication and interpersonal skills.|
|Journey #2||2-5 years||Analyzing and implementing test automation framework, motivating and leading testing resources.||Professional maturity, great attitude, automation tester, test lead.|
|Journey #3||5-8 years||Lead teams, conduct review meetings, involved in project management and test management activities, improve QA process.||Domain and Subject matter expert, multiple technologies and platform, QA initiations, rewards and recognitions.|
|Journey #4||8-10 years||Continuous improvements in QA and test process, interact with clients, quality deliverables, organization wide process improvements, supporting organizational goals.||QA Manager or Test Manager or Senior Lead with great responsibilities.|
|Journey #5||10+ years||Prepare QA and test management plans, brainstorm teams for smart work, review and implement best practices, continuous growth on professional and personal life.||Grow with the Company and Go to Places.|
Real Stories of Testers Career
To briefly explain this aspect, I want to share the real stories of three testers I came across in my professional life. I have changed their names here and all the three candidates started their career as a tester and completed their 10 years of professional journey last year.
Vishal, a computer science engineering graduate, started his career as a tester in a medium size software company with the salary of INR 15,000 per month. Since beginning he loves his job and is passionate about his testing profession.
Initially he got a chance to work on a small mobile project on manual testing process with a small team. He completed his allocated tasks on time and mostly before the target time and looking for other opportunities in the project.
He interacted with other stakeholders of the project like process engineers, technical leads and mobile application designers to understand the complete workflow in project management.
Slowly, he becomes a esteemed team member who earned his superiors trust to do any task on time with quality. His work allocation gradually moved to more responsible tasks.
He never looked for any other jobs and wants to grow with the company with sincere efforts and total dedication. He is also a quick learner and spent his weekends on automation tools and became an automation framework expert.
He got promoted as a “Test Lead” in the same company and spent 4 years and then moved to the next company when an opportunity came on a different domain for his automation expertise, attitude, communication and interpersonal skills with a monthly salary of INR 1,10,000.
Now he is working as a “QA Manager” managing a team of 50 testing professionals in the United States with his family, which is his third company in his career with the salary of $15,000 per month.
Niraj, an electrical engineering graduate, started his career as a tester in a big MNC company with the salary of INR 20,000 per month, as he was not finding any job in electrical field.
He got this job through a friend’s reference and was allocated on a big enterprise project for testing an accounting module. His manager knows that Niraj is a fresher and not from a computer background and didn’t know anything about Accounts. So, he was given some study materials and asked his test lead to train Niraj on the domain and testing process.
But Niraj was totally disappointed that his electrical engineering studies were not useful – This demotivated him and he could not concentrate on his work and the salary too seemed low.
Very soon, he was identified as an inefficient tester and he moved to another company in just 6 months due to his disappointment with his first company.
Niraj slowly understands the testing process but started analyzing people’s behavior and spent most of his time in comparing people and their personal attitudes.
He worked for 12 companies so far and was unemployed for 2 years in between. He can’t communicate fluently, did not try automation testing and always looked for manual testing jobs with higher salary.
His last job was that of a “Test Lead” purely based on his seniority and experience with the salary of INR 40,000 per month and currently he is unemployed and looking for manual testing job.
Mukesh, a post graduate in computer, started his career as a tester in a small software company, with a salary of INR 9,000 per month with the gap of 2 years after his studies.
His interest was in coding and programming, but he did not get a job in software engineering as he had a confusion of technology between Java and .Net.
Later, he changed his mind to get into any job and thought that testing is an easy choice. He was allocated to a mission critical project to test some important module with the local client.
Even though his dreams were into programming, he convinced himself and started his career with full dedication as he felt great that to be a part of an important project in the company and in general being in the IT software industry.
He became an efficient tester in the project and the company wants him to be allocated in the project as a core tester. He enjoys being recognized by the client and also by the manager and spent almost 4 years in the project as a tester.
He got some hike in the salary based on the annual appraisal. When he is allocated to the next project in the same company, he took almost 6 months to understand the different testing process and functionalities in the new domain.
After spending 7 years in the same company, he decided to move to the next company as his colleagues are earning higher salaries and started attending interviews.
He attended almost 100 interviews in a year and did not succeed in any of them. Now he is the “Senior Tester” in the same company with the salary INR 50,000 per month.
How you can accomplish your goals?
Okay. Now, by going through the above three stories, you may realize some pros and cons of living as a testing professional and some bulbs might be blinking inside your brain.
But the next question will be ‘Okay, I understand this, but how to change myself so I can accomplish my goals of becoming a successful testing professional?’.
How to Have a Happy Successful Professional Journey?
Let me give some guidelines to achieve the successful track and a happy professional journey. The below journey travel points can be taken by an individual tester as per their experience level.
Journey #1: (0-2 years)
#1. Start your career and the testing journey with passion and interest: Whatever the reasons for finding yourself in this career- give it all. The first two years of your career, is to understand your roles & responsibilities and the working environment.
#2. Start improving your communication skill: I can say, it is important to talk in English and improve your fluency at this stage, which will help you in future when moving higher.
#3. Develop good interpersonal skills: Adapt a cordial behaviour. Communicate effectively. Be a good team player and work hard.
Journey #2: (2-5 years)
This stage is critical in your career as you have to learn lot of new things and stabilize your professional maturity, in addition to your normal responsibilities.
#1. Fine tune your ‘attitude’: To start with, don’t confuse and brings your personal attitude and ego to profession. As part of a team with people of different behaviors and cultures, you should learn to improve your attitude with positive thoughts and interact with people to achieve the common goals of the project.
#2. Share your knowledge with your juniors which will motivate you to learn new things. I have seen people not ready to share their knowledge as they feel it’s an asset of their own profession. Keep in mind, no one can pull out your own knowledge and experience at any cost.
When you share, you will be keen to learn new technologies to share again and the team members starts following you and will be interested to work with you.
#3. Don’t miss to learn “automation framework” at this stage and miss an opportunity to work with a real time project using an automation tool. Investigate the various automation tools available in the industry and be familiar and strong in any one of the automation tool.
#4. Participate in organizational initiatives and be a core team member. By completing five years, you are now an expert in manual and automation testing and can able to lead teams and identified as a ‘test lead’.
Journey #3: (5-8 years)
#1. Evaluate your professional journey so far: How many projects have I been involved in? How many domains have I worked with? What are the different platforms and technologies I have the real time experience on? If the answer is ‘1’ for any of these questions, then it is the time to think of a change.
#2. Determine your position: Check with your current company to see if there is a scope to provide newer opportunities in the next 2-3 years, if not, take a hard decision to find your next employer.
Don’t attach too much with your company personally and think that you are leaving your own home.
#3. Get familiar with quality assurance and project management process at this stage. Make yourself involved by sharing the responsibilities of your managers. ‘Nothing will be given until and unless it is asked’ is the famous Bible quote.
- Conduct weekly review meetings with the team members on quality metrics, test scenarios and traceability matrix etc.
- Investigate the world’s best practices on the quality process, testing process and bug process and introduce to the team and well as to the management.
- Be a hand raiser during the project review meetings and project yourself as a competent, skilled and easily approachable professional starting from a junior tester level up to the higher management.
- Analyze the project and escalate to the management in matters about simplifying the testing process or automation framework.
- If the company has a concept of ‘Employee of the Month’, win the title at least once in every quarter.
By completing eight years, you are now an expert in quality assurance & testing frameworks with excellent leadership capabilities and a domain expert (at least two domains for e.g., BFSI and Mobile) and a subject matter expert (at least one test automation framework).
Journey #4: (8-10 years)
This is the stage of great opportunities. Based on your skill set and expertise, you may be offered a managerial position in the same company or in a new company.
You should be very careful to take a decision in accepting the offer and consider roles & responsibilities, salary package and employment benefits etc.
Long back in IT industry, managerial positions were offered after completing at least 15 years of experience, but now the trend has changed and you can find managers with an average of 10 years of experience in many companies in India and Abroad.
It does not mean that everyone should become Managers at this stage. It totally depends upon the great chances in the present company or with a new employer as only 10-20% of the testing professionals gets a chance like this.
As we know very well, Manager is just a position, but you should lead everyone through your leadership skills in whatever positions you currently hold and do your job sincerely, where the opportunities will automatically knock your door.
Journey #5: (10+ years)
Now you are a successful IT Testing Professional, Yahooooo! Plan your timings in an organized way. Be a great leader, rather than just a facilitator and manager. Educate and brainstorm your team to work smart and plan the professional and personal life.
You have to create leaders rather than followers. If you feel that you came across a successful life, train your subordinates to reach the same heights by following your great path. Find opportunities to travel abroad and demand your expected salaries and other employment benefits.
Identify a great dream company of yours and work for the next few years till you and your family settle and grow with the company. Strive for job satisfaction by balancing the work and personal life. Spend time with family and friends. Be responsive and available for the company at your comfortable time sometimes after office hours.
Because, you are enjoying your life because of your company. But don’t be a corporate Robot.
Ah, the journey does not end here and will continue with lot of fun in the professional life henceforth.
During the mid 80’s, 90% of the IT companies did not have a testing team or QA department and had never given importance to testing and delivered unit tested software applications. Software companies learnt great lessons when their delivered software failed, or were buggy and unfit to use and returned by the clients.
Software engineering teams again started working to fix the bugs and bug fixing time got doubled compared to the initial development time. Then, since during late 80’s, software companies slowly started forming separate testing teams and now testing and QA becomes integral part of any IT software company.
The developer and tester ratio started as 10:1 and now it becomes 10:5 and more.
You may ask a question, if we align our attitude and professional goals properly, shall everyone become a test manager or QA manager in future quickly with short duration? The answer is NO. Why? Because we are all HUMANS :)
If I program 1000 Robots to become Test Manager in 5 years, for sure, all the Robots will achieve the goals. But as great human beings, we want to live our personal life without thinking official work sitting at home.
It totally depends on the personal attitude, dedicated and focused efforts of an individual which differs greatly amongst people. Due to this latency, only 10-20% professionals reach their goals.
Author: Balu A. is an experienced techno-functional IT professional with over two decades of IT software experience and a decade of project and test management experience delivering enterprise applications and mobility solutions across domains using Microsoft, Oracle, Java and Mobile technologies.
So, my dear testing professionals, are you ready to start the journey with a different, unique and focused approach to achieve your goals and targets?
All the best!