21/02/2019 - The Long-Term Tester Development Programme: Making the informed Choices About Which Disciplines and Functions to Specialise in
1. So, You've Decided to Become a Tester
Congratulations, you will make a big difference as a professional in a field that is recognised as key to delivering systems that:
- Underpin your business;
- Work as intended;
- Are maintainable;
- Provide value for money;
- Enhance your reputation.
Becoming a test specialist is a big deal, particularly as the discipline goes well beyond the common misconception that your role will simply about finding bugs and raising defect reports. Whilst that activity is important, today’s world allows you to do so much more as you embrace the entire life cycle and become engaged where you can be most effective: Requirements, Acceptance Criteria and Pre-Build Stages.
When you embark on your career as a professional tester you’ll learn the basics and gain a couple of industry-demanded qualifications, but after that you’ll be offered some choices about the direction you wish to take to help maximise your career potential and return for your employer, and these include:
- Model-Based Testing;
- Process Improvement;
- Requirements Engineering;
- Technical Testing;
- Consulting and Leadership;
- Test Management;
- Security, etc.
Which you choose is up to you, but we thoroughly recommend you get hold of 2 or three key skills that will maximise what you can do whilst giving your employer the flexibility they need from their staff.
TSG Training has developed a compelling programme to develop multi-skilled testers, commencing with juniors and apprentices, right through to programme test managers and architects. We take you through four key stages of learning and development, through which you can choose to specialise and develop additional skills that fit your plans and career profile.
- Stage 1 – For new entrants, apprentices and people with fewer that 2-years’ experience;
- Stage 2 – to get you up to the role of Senior Test Engineer / Team Leader in your chosen specialism;
- Stage 3 – To move you to the more serious roles of Test Management; or
- Stage 4 – where you have made the choice to move into architecture or consultancy
The following page graphically outlines the programme, its stages and how they interlink.
2. Getting on the Ladder
Stage 1 of the programme has been developed to give you the basic skills to be a good tester in any life cycle, whilst also giving a flavour of some of the different specialisms that are important today. You can join the stage at any time, but if you are starting from scratch then the Introduction to Test Engineering is the recommended entrance. If you take the full cycle of courses, we suggest that you set a target of 18-24 months to complete it – anything less and you may lack the necessary day-to-day experience of learning that an employer might be entitled to expect and rely on.
Stage 1 is eligible for Government training levy funding if you are:
- Starting work;
- New to testing;
- Switching from an unrelated role that requires you to develop 51% or more new skills.
3. Thinking about Choices
You’ve got yourself and ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing, so you are now recognised in the industry as a career professional tester. It’s time to get an ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst certificate and make some choices that shape your future. Do want to be:
- Business centric?
- A technician specialising in, say, systems integration or infrastructure testing?
- An automation engineer?
- A Performance engineer?
- Running projects and managing people?
- Specialise in DevOps or Agile?
Stage 2, ‘From Test Engineer to Senior Test Engineer / Test Team Leader’, defines the industry-mandated ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst and 6-optional paths, each of which relies on different skills and way of thinking.
4. Management, Architecture of Consultancy?
You’ve gained a few years’ experience as a Senior Test Engineer or Test Team Leader, so now is the time for the big decision about what you want to do longer-term:
- Test Management;
The choice is yours, but what you decide is entirely dependent on you asking a number of questions:
- Do I want to lead big test programmes?
- Do I want to lay the foundation and right platform for big programmes with Test Architecture?
- Do I want to engage stakeholders as a consultant to deliver key strategies and troubleshoot?
4.1. The Test Management Route
This choice necessitates you obtain an ISTQB Advanced Test Manager certificate, following which you have some choices about technology and development models, as shown in Figure 3, below
4.2. Architecture and Consultancy
Many of the courses and capabilities you need go across each function, so we have defined a training programme that allows you develop into either role, as shown in Figure 4, below.
The first 2 stages will take around 2-years each to graduate from; although Stages 3 & 4 will demand more of your time and increased experience. Don’t be rushed through any stage, as the more time you spend in it them more experience you gain to provide good grounding in the next.
Which ever route you take, be comfortable that it matches your skill set and way of thinking. For example, if you are business and process focussed, then the choice of Security Testing might not be the right one for you.
You have choices – make them count