Jobs in the field of software quality assurance are amongst the fastest growing occupations from 2012-2022, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook – with total employment in this area expected to increase by 22%. With great salaries and opportunities for growth, it’s an attractive field for those who want a well-paid, qualified, and respected job.
Fifteen years ago, it was sufficient to just be a strong PC user to get into the field of software testing — but that’s not the case anymore. The profession of a software tester has become increasingly more technical and requires a serious education, just like any other IT related profession.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, at the beginning of software development, programmers tested their own code. It soon became obvious that software developers were overly optimistic in regards to the software quality of their products. When a developer tests his own code, he starts with the assumption that it is good and functional. His attitude: “I can prove my software works and that’s what I’m paid for…” leads to a situation where most software errors are simply overlooked.
The quickly developing IT industry needed people with an “I can break it” mindset: independent software testers. Here are some milestones that formed the modern software testing discipline:
- In the late 1950’s, the Atlas Missile Program (intercontinental ballistic missile) utilized the first independent software tester in order to perform unbiased testing.
- In the 1960’s, software testing evolved from focusing on detection to focusing on the entire software development cycle (QA).
- In the 1970s, Glenford Myers, an American computer scientist, published a number of books in Software QA, including his famous: “The Art of Software Testing”- the first good work ever written on software testing, and Myers became the father of the software quality assurance discipline.
- From the 80’s onwards, educational institutions started to provide education in Software QA and testing to reflect the growing industry’s demand for dedicated software testing professionals.
- In 2002, the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), an international software testing qualification certification organization was founded.
Here are two huge motivating factors for why companies seek independent and professionally trained testers: the increased cost of fixing bugs through product maintenance after release, and the financial and publicity risks posed by marketing a buggy product. Due to the shift in acceptance of testing, a new profession in testing has evolved and has become a career choice for many individuals. As with any profession, training is not only an asset, but a requirement.
Select the right school for your QA education
If you’ve decided to become a Software QA specialist/ Software tester, where should you start? There are a lot of QA programs out there. Here are some tips when considering a program:
- Check the program outline. It should contain the following:
- Software development life cycle models
- Software testing methodology (test levels, test types, test techniques)
- Test plans/ test case design
- Defect tracking
- Web testing
- Mobile testing
- Test automation
- Capability maturity models and QA management
- If you’re NEW to IT and QA, make sure the program also covers system level knowledge of modern software, to give you the ability to see the big picture. Having system level knowledge of IT disciplines is critically important. It will serve as a foundation for your career growth, make you confident and comfortable and help you in numerous occasions – whether it’s searching for bugs or participating in meetings/discussions with other team members. System level knowledge that every future tester must have includes:
- Modern operation systems including UNIX
- Software architecture
- Networking and protocols
- Relational databases and SQL
- Programming Languages
- Version Control systems
- Check that the educational organization is well-established and has confirmed legal status on a government level (i.e. certified, accredited, registered)
- Check if the school provides students with post-study internships (coop positions) – real software developments projects with real companies. Internships are critical as employers look at industry experience
- Check if there is a way to contact graduates of the program to get unbiased feedback
- Check the length of the program. A good program is usually from 2 to 6 month. Anything shorter than that probably won’t be worth your time.
Last but not least, do yourself a favor and take the ISTQB exam after finishing whatever program you choose. It will boost your marketability and look good on your resume.
Remember: money you spend on education is never an expense, it’s an investment.