Step by step guide to becoming a technical tester

It seems to me that there’s an increasing demand to hire people who can write test automation, or at least are “technical testers”. For more on what this term means, check out this article on the Ministry of Testing.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to say that “technical testing” means someone who can go and test beyond the UI (User Interface). This means they can probably do the following:

But as someone who didn’t study computer science or anything “technical” (I actually studied Economics and German) at university, I’d like to share some tips on how to become a more technical tester.

1. What opportunities does your current workplace provide for upskilling?

My first taste of technical testing was testing the integration between two systems using SOAPUI in my first project back in 2012. I hadn’t set out to learn SOAPUI or how different systems talk to each other when I started on this project, but when the opportunity came up - I volunteered.

Personally, I find it a lot easier to learn a skill/programming language etc. if I can also apply it at work.

For example: When I first came to Sweden, I was asked to learn Python - and I started to. But then for me, it’s hard to learn for the sake of learning. Once I had “learned” python, I had nowhere to apply that knowledge so I forgot most of it.

Another example: In one of my previous projects in NZ, I had to learn how to handle proxies and manipulate network requests for mobile app testing. Since I applied this knowledge to a project, I remembered it and was then able to apply this in other projects going foward.

2. Let your boss and/or team know you want to learn the more technical side of testing

This means that if any opportunities come up in your projects, hopefully your boss or teammates think of you.

3. Figure out what interests you and start there

I was actually more interested in testing APIs, testing with proxies and understanding how systems interact before I was at all interested in test automation. It’s easier to learn something when you are actually interested or at least curious about it.

4. Pair with someone

I’ve learned a lot when I have been able to pair with someone. It means you can ask them questions and bounce ideas off someone.

If you have a particularly good relationship with a certain developer in your team - that would be a great starting point.

5. Invest in yourself

Depending on how much you want to learn and where you are at now, you may also need to invest in yourself in your own time.

I’m not sure if this will be very nice for anyone to read, but in my opinion if you are serious about wanting to up-skill and you can’t easily make it part of the current project you are on, then you’re going to have to decide if you want to make time for it in your own time. If you are fortunate, you may already have budgeted training or development time per week/month/year - which can be used instead.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my own time upskilling (granted most of this was before I had a daughter). Good thing is - I like to learn.

One thing I would like to stress is that you may be forced to invest in yourself in your own time if your work doesn’t give you the opportunities to do so - then later in your career, you’ll see those investments pay off.

6. Learn, learn, learn.

There’s so much information out there to support you including Youtube videos, online courses and in-depth articles.

I promise you, the more you learn, the more it gets easier to learn because you have learned how to learn.

7. Here are some great resources for people who want to get started with technical testing.

There’s a lot of great courses on Test Automation University. Some great starting points include:

Simon Berner’s course on Git Source Control

Amber Race’s course on Exploring Service APIs through Test Automation

Alan Richardson’s course on Automating in the Browser Using Javascript

On the Ministry of Testing’s site you’ll also find some great courses and articles. A few places to get started include:

Dan Billing’s Security 101 course

Suman Bala’s TestBash Talk on Breaking Boundaries Using Charles

Yulia Tekin’s Roadmap to Becoming a Test Automation Engineer

Follow me on Twitter: @NicolaLindgren

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