What does a successful journey look like for testers in their professional lives?
Experienced testers often have thoughts and questions regarding their career progression, while those who are just starting out may have doubts and uncertainties. Some common questions include:
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- How long does it take to become a QA Manager or Test Manager?
- What steps do I need to take to become a QA Manager or Test Manager?
- Is it possible to attain higher positions within my current company?
- What is the maximum salary one can expect in this field?
- Should I continue in Testing or switch to Development for greater achievements?
These queries may seem straightforward and easily answered by someone who has spent a decade or two in the IT software industry.
But they may not satisfy or convince testers who are working in the real field and are passionate about growth, recognition, and earning higher salary packages.
This article aims to guide you on a professional journey and provide suggestions for each stage of your career, so that you can be rewarded and recognized by your reporting authorities and management, to achieve your goals. These stages can be summarized as follows:
What You Will Learn:
- Professional Journey of a tester to Manager:
- A testers experience and career goals:
- Real Stories of Testers Career
- Story #1
- Story #2
- Story #3
- How to Have a Happy Successful Professional Journey?
- Journey #1: (0-2 years)
- Journey #2: (2-5 years)
- Journey #3: (5-8 years)
- Journey #4: (8-10 years)
- Journey #5: (10+ years)
Professional Journey of a tester to Manager:
A testers experience and career goals:
|Journey||Stage||Roles & Responsibilities||Goals & Targets|
|Journey #1||0-2 years||Understanding test process, writing and executing test cases, participating in project and organizational initiatives.||Being an efficient tester, a team player, and possessing good communication and interpersonal skills.|
|Journey #2||2-5 years||Analyzing and implementing test automation framework, motivating and leading testing resources.||Professional maturity, a great attitude, proficiency in automation testing, and the ability to lead testing teams.|
|Journey #3||5-8 years||Leading teams, conducting review meetings, being involved in project and test management activities, and improving QA processes.||Becoming a domain and subject matter expert, acquiring knowledge of multiple technologies and platforms, and gaining recognition for QA initiatives.|
|Journey #4||8-10 years||Continuously improving QA and test processes, interacting with clients, delivering quality deliverables, implementing organization-wide process improvements, and supporting organizational goals.||Attaining positions of QA Manager, Test Manager, or Senior Lead with significant responsibilities.|
|Journey #5||10+ years||Preparing QA and test management plans, brainstorming teams for smart work, reviewing and implementing best practices, and continuously growing professionally and personally.||Growing with the company and achieving personal goals.|
Real Stories of Testers Career
To further illustrate this aspect, I would like to share the real stories of three testers who have completed their 10-year professional journey, starting their careers as testers.
Vishal, a computer science engineering graduate, began his career as a tester in a medium-sized software company with a monthly salary of INR 15,000. From the start, he was passionate about his job and dedicated himself to the testing profession.
Initially, Vishal worked on a small mobile project, focusing on manual testing, within a small team. He completed his tasks efficiently and often ahead of schedule. He took advantage of the opportunity to interact with stakeholders from various roles in the project, seeking to understand the complete project management workflow.
Through his hard work and ability to deliver high-quality work on time, Vishal earned the trust of his superiors and gradually took on more responsible tasks. He never considered leaving the company, as he aimed to grow and advance within the organization through dedication and continuous learning. He became an expert in automation frameworks, devoting his weekends to improving his skills in this area.
Vishal’s dedication and expertise led to his promotion as a Test Lead in the same company. After four years, he seized an opportunity to work in a different domain that required his automation expertise, attitude, and strong communication skills. He now works as a QA Manager in the United States, managing a team of 50 testing professionals, earning a salary of $15,000 per month.
Niraj, an electrical engineering graduate, started his career as a tester in a large MNC company with a monthly salary of INR 20,000. He took this job due to the lack of opportunities in the electrical engineering field.
Niraj faced challenges in the beginning because he was assigned to test an accounting module, despite having no previous experience or knowledge in the domain. He felt disappointed and struggled to find motivation. His lack of interest and concentration led to him being labeled as an inefficient tester, and he left the company after just six months.
Throughout his career, Niraj focused more on analyzing people’s behavior rather than improving his skills in testing. He frequently changed jobs, always seeking higher salaries without much concern for personal growth or development. Despite being a senior tester in his last job, he is currently unemployed and searching for a manual testing job.
Mukesh, a post-graduate in computer science, started his career as a tester in a small software company, earning a monthly salary of INR 9,000 after a two-year gap following his studies.
Although Mukesh’s interest was in coding and programming, he couldn’t find a job in software engineering due to his confusion between Java and .Net technologies. He eventually chose testing as a career path, as it seemed like an easier option.
Despite his initial reservations, Mukesh dedicated himself to his role as a tester. He excelled in his first project and became a core tester within the company. Over the course of seven years, he acquired expertise in different testing processes and domains. However, his attempts to find a job with a higher salary were unsuccessful.
Currently, Mukesh works as a Senior Tester in the same company, earning INR 50,000 per month.
How can you achieve your goals?
Now that you’ve heard these stories, you may be wondering how you can change yourself and achieve your goals as a successful testing professional.
How to Have a Happy Successful Professional Journey?
Let me provide some guidelines to help you achieve a successful and fulfilling career as a testing professional. These guidelines can be followed based on your level of experience:
Journey #1: (0-2 years)
#1. Start your career with passion and interest: Embrace your career as a testing professional and approach it with enthusiasm from the beginning. Learn about your roles and responsibilities, understand the project and testing life cycle, software requirements, and testing processes.
#2. Improve your communication skills: Develop fluency in English, as effective communication is essential for career growth.
#3. Develop good interpersonal skills: Be a team player, communicate effectively, and work hard.
Journey #2: (2-5 years)
This stage is crucial for your career development, as it requires learning and personal growth in addition to your core responsibilities.
#1. Fine-tune your attitude: Let go of personal attitudes and ego. Cultivate positive thoughts, interact with others, and work towards common project goals.
#2. Share your knowledge: Share your knowledge with your juniors, as it will motivate you to learn new things. Remember, sharing knowledge does not diminish your own expertise.
#3. Learn automation frameworks: Do not miss the opportunity to learn automation frameworks. Explore various automation tools, choose one, and become proficient in it.
#4. Participate in organizational initiatives: Be an active team member, contribute to projects, suggest improvements to testing processes and automation frameworks, and strive to achieve recognition within the company.
Journey #3: (5-8 years)
#1. Evaluate your professional journey: Assess your experience level, projects you have been involved in, domains you have worked with, and the technologies and platforms you have experience in. If you find yourself lacking in any of these areas, consider a change.
#2. Determine your position: Check with your current company to see if there are opportunities for growth in the next 2-3 years. If not, consider finding a new employer.
#3. Acquire knowledge in quality assurance and project management: Take on additional responsibilities, participate in review meetings, improve quality metrics, and introduce best practices to the team and management.
- Analyze projects and suggest simplifications and improvements to the testing process and automation frameworks.
- Strive to be recognized as the “Employee of the Month” and actively contribute to the success of the projects.
By the end of this stage, you should have become an expert in quality assurance and testing frameworks, with excellent leadership skills. You should also be recognized as a domain and subject matter expert.
Journey #4: (8-10 years)
This stage presents great opportunities for career advancement. You may be offered managerial positions within your current company or from new employers.
When considering job offers, carefully evaluate the roles, responsibilities, salary packages, and employment benefits.
Remember that being a manager is not the only path to success. Focus on demonstrating leadership skills in your current position, regardless of the title, and perform your job with dedication. Opportunities will come knocking at your door.
Journey #5: (10+ years)
At this stage, you have achieved success as an IT Testing Professional. Plan your time effectively, be a great leader, and educate and empower your team to achieve their goals.
Instead of creating followers, strive to create leaders. Mentor your subordinates and help them reach the same heights as you have. Seek opportunities to work abroad, negotiate salaries and other employment benefits.
Identify the company of your dreams and work towards settling down and growing with them. Maintain a healthy work-life balance, spend time with your loved ones, and be available for the company at your preferred times, even outside of office hours.
Remember, you are enjoying a fulfilling life because of your company, but do not become a corporate robot.
And remember, the journey doesn’t end here. It continues with more fun and opportunities in your professional life.
In the 80s, most IT companies did not have dedicated testing or QA departments and did not prioritize testing. However, as software failures and bugs increased, companies realized the importance of testing. Separate testing teams were formed, and testing became an integral part of software development.
Currently, the developer-to-tester ratio is much lower than it once was, and the software industry understands the value of quality assurance and testing.
While aligning your attitude and professional goals can bring you closer to becoming a test manager or QA manager within a short time frame, it’s important to remember that we are all humans with different abilities and priorities.
Personal attitudes, dedication, and focused efforts vary greatly among individuals, which is why only a small percentage of professionals reach their goals in a given time frame.
About the Author: Balu A. is an experienced IT professional with over two decades of software experience, including a decade in project and test management. He has delivered enterprise applications and mobility solutions across various domains using Microsoft, Oracle, Java, and Mobile technologies.
So, are you ready to embark on your journey as a testing professional with a unique and focused approach to achieve your goals and targets?
All the best!