This article is dedicated to my passionate QA Fraternity!!!
Gone are the days when the QAs used to have a lot of time waiting for the builds to come and later they would start testing, raise bugs accordingly and then again wait for the developers to fix them.
They would spend a major portion of their time practicing English for writing test cases, reviewing and finalizing them to be used for testing.
Times have changed now and so have the roles. You may be lucky if you are surviving on just doing manual testing that too with big IT giants like Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Accenture etc.
QA’s Roles Vs Goals
Being in a mid-sized or a small firm, you need to have a few special skills apart from basic manual testing. It could be anything like API testing, postman, SOAP, Database Testing, client-side validations to the more complex ones like automation and performance testing.
In this current trend, you might have noticed that the job openings even for testers with 2-4 years of experience, list down a lot of things.
Given below is a sample of the Job description for the role of a tester with 2-4 years of work experience:
- Good Knowledge of Java.
- Selenium – Mandatory.
- Must be good in Performance Testing – Jmeter/LoadRunner with a thorough understanding of OS and performance tuning concepts.
I have listed down only the basic skills but there is much more to add to the list. Python, Perl, Groovy, etc. find their own place in the majority of the openings.
So, what do we conclude here? Is the industry moving into an SDET role?
However, I would agree on certain points like – a tester should have basic knowledge of the programming language and should be willing to do automation as and when required. You must be wondering why is the term “when required” kept bold? This is because of the practices that are being followed nowadays.
A lot of companies hire for Automation Testing, but you should feel lucky only if you are able to find an automation project in that new organization. Many a time you will just land up in another manual project where you will find no scope for learning after a few months.
The main reason for changing your current company might be “I am not getting automation experience”. You may have to put in all the effort to learn automation and then change companies because you want to switch from manual testing.
Another worst thing that I have noticed in most of the organizations is that even a QA Lead or the QA Manager almost does the same work as a junior tester. This may not be the case everywhere, but being promoted as a QA lead doesn’t guarantee that you will get the roles you are looking out for.
Hierarchy in your project may lead you to do the same work which your peer juniors are performing. QA Manager roles are mostly ongoing.
So where should a Lead QA see himself in the future?
It is true that everyone in the IT fraternity dreams of going onsite one day. If you compare the onsite chances which the BAs or developers get with what a QA gets, then you will feel sad to be on the losing side. I have worked with different organizations and there are some common words which often my ears used to hear from the HRs or Higher Management.
These are the words that make me sad – “There are no onsite for QA’s”. Again, this is not the same case everywhere, however, I am just quoting the general trends in the industry.
So, let’s revisit the title of this article “QA Roles v/s Goals”.
The key point that I will try to highlight here is “Do our roles focus on our goals”. I am sure that most of them would say NO!! As the days pass by, with the increase in your experience year by year, at times we do feel what is something new that we are doing? The answer will be that we are doing the same work that we did 3-4 years back.”.
I have come across profiles of certain testers that even with 10+ years of experience are still working as “Test Analyst” or “Senior Test Analyst” whereas the developers with the same range of experience are becoming “Project Managers” or “Product Managers”.
If you retrospect the roles that you have been performing all throughout your career, then the below table will sound interesting as well as depressing. You will observe that you are not learning anything even after 7-8 years of work experience.
|Designations||Years on same role(Average||Total years of Experience||Learnings/Concerns/Challenges
|Junior Associate QA||1||1||Test Case writing, raising defects, basic manual testing
Test Case reviews, Automation (if lucky)
|Senior Associate QA||1.5||4||Status Reporting, Automation, Performance (you start learning even if not in a project)
|Associate Lead QA||2||6||Creating Test Plans, Estimations and Team Handling( if lucky), assigning tasks, reporting status to client, more client calls
|Lead QA||2||8||Test Strategy, More Excel Work, Timesheet Management, Accounts creation, Billing Data
|Associate Manager QA||3||11||More of less you would have performed everything in Lead QA role.
|Manager QA||3||14||Almost no change in Roles, still thinking whether to continue in QA or move to BA
|Director QA||3||17||Almost no change in Roles. More on managing overall Quality in organizations.|
Therefore, I would say that the 5-7 years bracket is very important in a QA career. You need to work on your strength & weakness and follow the path accordingly.
- If you don’t have an interest in coding and don’t understand Automation either, but you feel that you have good analytical skills and good communication skills, then it will be good to move to the BA role after 5 years.
- If you are crazy about coding, then make sure you follow the Automation path. There is no point in staying in Manual. Keep changing companies until you get your perfect role.
- If you are not coding-crazy but you understand the logic well, then become aware of the technologies in the market, and better move to Manager Delivery rather than Manager QA. You will learn a lot in the Delivery vertical.
Generally, people say that we should not switch companies very frequently but what if we are not satisfied with our roles? Should we compromise on our career goals? Keep on doing the same work if you don’t like it? At the end of the day, should we wonder what we are doing?
Make sure that your roles help you reach your goals. If not, you are just merely compromising with your life and career. If you are not professionally satisfied, then you will absolutely end up ruining your personal life too.
About the author: This article was written by a STH team member. He is working as a Software testing lead in an MNC.
Have you experienced the same situation? Please feel free to share your experiences. We would love to hear from you.