Curiosity and patience of a lawyer or survey for those who want to be testers.

In a post from two weeks ago I shared with you some data from the survey that me and two of my colleagues (Basia and Paula) conducted. Today I’ll write more about the idea behind the study and about the first questionnaire.

It was a part of a bigger project. In the late November we were talking about ideas for QA related presentations and workshops and we noticed how many people ask about how to become a software tester on the FB group. I talked about an idea for a presentation to Sylwia from WiT Wrocław and she agreed that might be an interesting thing to talk about there.

survey-shutterstock-imageIn the beginning of December Paula and I decided that in order to know better what people would like to hear about in our presentation and about what people who already worked as testers for some time have to share – we would create a survey. I mean – as testers we knew the value behind asking questions.

There were two surveys – “I wanna be a tester” for those who think about becoming one and “From zero to hero”, where we asked experienced testers about their thoughts, tips and learning material recommendations. Both surveys were conducted online. Surely we would have less answers within the next four weeks ( with christmas-new year break in the meantime) if it wasn’t for the wonderful testers from “Testowanie oprogramowania” on FB – big thanks to all of you!

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“I wanna be a tester” – the first questionnaire

  • conducted in Polish
  • 39 respondents
  • 35% men, 65%  women
  • 77,5% without IT or IT related education

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Beside the question about the age, sex and education we asked them:

  1. If You’re currently working, what is Your job?
  2. Do You want to work as manual/automation/mobile/ other tester?
  3. Why do You want to work as a tester?
  4. What information do You need to start?
  5. Which of Your experiences and/or character traits You think might be useful for a tester?
  6. What materials do You use to learn? Where do you get them from?
  7. What would You ask a tester about?

The variety of jobs still surprised be, even though I was expecting a wide range. Account manager, 3D designer of ships interior, HR specialist, lawyer, graphic designer, nurse, customer service representative (just to name a few), teacher, young stay-at-home mum, salesman – they all want to pursue career as testers. There were also students.

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15 people knew they wanted to become manual testers, 6 chose automatic tester, the rest was undecided. I would say that this is quite understandable – it is hard to decide on a specific path if you do not know someone who works in IT and can answer some questions for you. Even if you have someone to answer your questions it still may be a hard choice – it is wise to start as a manual tester if you are not sure what exactly do you want to do. (But if you know it’s the automation that excites you – go for it!)

People’s reasons and motivations are always an interesting topic (at least for me, so you’ll have to consider it interesting for the time being too, ha!). Most of answers were circling around “I want to work in IT (and being a tester is a relatively easy way in)”. That seems to be a popular opinion (I think so not only because of the survey- I heard it/read it on meetups/blogs/FB groups etc.)

On one hand I understand where is this coming from, on the other hand it makes me a bit angry. Being a good tester is not an easy job. I love what I do and the thought that someone considers this as “just” being a tester makes me sad. Yes – it may be easiersoftware_tester.jpg to start a job as tester than to start as a programmer, but quickly you’ll find out that this requires a lot of skills and technical knowledge that you have to develop quickly. It is also an important job (quality, hello!) that should not be done only to get free coffee and good money. Money, stability and benefits are important when choosing a job, but using (only) those criteria to chose a profession may lead you to getting stuck in a job you will hate, with earnings smaller than anticipated (people with passion tend to be better in their job, which in IT means more money, so if you don’t have the passion, well). Also, people who choose a profession because it seems easy to them are less likely to work hard and get good at it later (after all they choose it for its simplicity). A colleague of mine noted that she met testers who came to testing because they considered it easy – unfortunately working with them is anything but easy, as they want to just settle, not to constantly challenge themselves.

Excuse my interpretation – I do not want to offend anyone, I just wanted to write what I feel. There, done.

Of course, there were also people who want to become testers because they find it interesting, they like to learn or they read about it and just felt that this maybe a good job for them. Some people put emphasis on the creativity needed on the job, some wrote about the wide range of possibilities  for development (personal- and career-wise).

contentanalytics_illustration2Information that respondents needed could be summed up to below issues (from the most to least common). Those did not come as a surprise as it is a standard set of “I want to become (insert profession here)”.

  • What should I know/learn to get first entry-level job/internship?
  • How do I get some practical experience ( on-line training, application to look for bugs with possibility of checking how many I’ve found/what I did not find)?
  • What books/blogs/webinars are the best for beginners?
  • Is a technical education a necessity ?
  • What tools & technologies does a tester use in his everyday job?
  • How to get that first entry-level job/internship?

 

Question about the character traits and experiences was interesting because we got to know both about the people who responded and about how they imagine a tester. What they considered most useful? Here is the list:

  • patience, thoroughnesscompareeverything3
  • analytical thinking and inquisitiveness
  • creativity and being curious about all kinds of things
  • good communication skills
  • accuracy, paying attention to details
  • good communication skills
  • basic IT knowledge
  • basic programming skills is any language (possibly more than one)
  • English.

 

I’ll leave out the learning materials used as I plan to include those in another part of this survey mini-series, where I’ll be writing about our presentation.

Last part was about what our tester-candidates would like to ask a tester about. If given a chance they would ask:

  • Where should I start (manual/automation)?
  • How much do You earn?
  • How long does it take to learn to become a tester?
  • Should I have an ISTQB certificate?
  • Do You like Your job? Are You satisfied by it?
  • Would You prefer to be a programmer?
  • Do I need a technical education?
  • What was the hardest thing at the beginning?
  • What tools do You use?
  • Does it get boring?
  • What are the development opportunities?

Question Mark Concept

As most of those will be answered, again, it the “presentation-post” I will leave those out.What I can answer from my experience and talks with other QAs:

  1. What you earn depend on what exactly do you do, how good you are at it, what company you are working for, what city etc.
  2. You can get an internship after two months of dedicating your free time to learning or it may take a year – again depending on the current situation in the area, companies you apply to etc. I’d say 2-3 moths of working hard should be enough for an internship (of course you’ll also need to write a good CV and make a good impression for that).
  3. I love my job and I’ve never been happier. Honestly, I enjoy it so much it feels weird sometimes. I respect programmers and the things they do but I don’t think that would be a job for me. It can sometimes get boring if you work in one project for a long time but on the other hand it gives you the opportunity to learn more about the processes and how they can be improved.

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And that’s it – our first questionnaire and the answers we got. I plan for the next post to present the second survey and another one to share what we put in our presentation. Any questions and remarks are warmly welcomed and highly appreciated.

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