How to start your career in software testing
So, you want to become a software tester but you are not currently working in the IT industry? There are a few things you can do to get your foot in the door, but it can take a bit of time to actually land your first role as a tester.
There are a few options regarding the very first step you can take.
1. Join a company that has testers by using the skills you currently/already have
I’ve met a few people who became testers using this approach. This approach involves you using the skills/experience/background you already have to get the job - then later on try and go for a transfer into a software testing role.
Before doing this, I would try and do my research into making sure this company has transferred people between departments in the past and supported career shifts like this. (Some companies are great at promoting from within and giving internal people a chance at new roles - with the idea of developing them, other companies prefer to hire externally and only people with previous experience. Avoid the latter category of companies if you want to go with this approach).
Depending on the role and the company, you may choose to ask about this at your interview - either by talking about yourself specifically with regards to future opportunities in the company or by asking about how it works in general for others. If you are uncomfortable with being so direct, you can probably also ask around - see if you can talk to someone at the company to get an inside look as to how transfers between departments or changing roles at the company actually works.
2. Do a software testing education
This isn’t an option for everyone as you may not have this near you (and there might not be any distance-learning options), but this is a good approach to consider if you do have an education provider near you that offers a software testing course.
Some of the ones I know also offer internships giving students hands-on experience with the software testing world. Some also have partnerships/already existing relationships with companies which can help you land your first role as a software tester.
Again, do your research, reach out to past students and find out what the course was like and more importantly what support was provided in helping them get their first role as a software tester. You’d be surprised by how generous people can be with their time and how they may want to help someone in your shoes as they, themselves, have probably had the same questions/concerns before they started.
To find past students, you can search for the education provider on LinkedIn, then on the View Company page, click on the Alumni tab - from there you can filter by year (to more recent years). You can also filter by keywords/search terms such as “test” or “QA” (to filter out people who went to the same education provider but did something unrelated to testing).
3. Train up in your own time and network
Honestly, I think this would be the riskiest one but it is still possible to do it this way. I recommend you combine this approach with either 1 or 2 if possible.
There are plenty of online resources where you can upskill as a tester.
Some of my favourites include:
Ministry of Testing (you need to be a Pro member to access most of the content. There are some great courses on Security Testing, Test Automation and Mobile Testing among others)
Test Automation University (All of the courses here are free. They also provide certificates that you can share on your Linkedin Profile)
In terms of networking, you can go on meetup.com and see if they have any software testing meetups you can attend. It’s also worthwhile going to testing or software development conferences to go out and meet people. There are also some great online forums for networking - I recommend the Ministry of Testing’s Club discussion forums.
For more information on what I wish I knew in my first year of testing, check out my eBook: Starting Your Software Testing Career.
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