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How do I prepare for a software testing job?

A software testing job can be an exciting, rewarding and flexible choice. Expert tester Gerie Owen details what you'll need to do in order to begin.

Many professional software testers think that their work is enjoyable. However, it's much more than playing with...

software and telling others what you think is wrong with it. A software testing job is a profession and a discipline that requires a large body of knowledge, a wide range of skills, and a passion for improving software quality and the user experience.

This means that you have to follow a regimen for your testing, rather than simply calling yourself a typical user. Further, you have to work with end users and business analysts to understand the need for the software and translate that business need into discrete activities that the end user may do in order to get their work done. Technical skills, people skills and the willingness to work within a structure are important aspects of a software testing job. And because you're working as part of a team within a business, you have to balance your personal goals with team and organizational ones.

If you're still interested in a software testing job, there are many ways to enter the field. If you're in college, you might find courses in testing in the computer science or information systems departments. Courses in mathematics, philosophy and logic also can be helpful in establishing a software testing mindset.

If you're a young professional in an unrelated field, there are certifications that could serve to get you started in a software testing job. Although certifications are no substitute for experience, they can introduce you to the language and fundamental practices of the profession.

You can supplement theoretical learning with internships or mentoring programs. If you work in an organization that employs testers, you can introduce yourself and explain your interest. They will tell you what you need to do to land a software testing job, and probably also help you achieve that goal.

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A great debate at CAST 2015

This was last published in November 2015

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What have you done to move yourself into a software testing job?
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I'm from old days when we were software engineers, generalists in programming and testing.

At some point I started liking more the process of investigation of complex problems and liking less coding without exposure to the grand purpose. So making testing my primary career choice for the next years was pre-determined.

Testing field (and IT in general) is a "moving down escalator". Even to stay current one must keep moving. Some find it stressful. I find it exciting.

Testing is a skilled craft and a lifetime learning coupled with practicing.
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I was curious on how users would interact with the application and finding the problems. I also wanted to be proactive and figure out where the defect was introduced in the process.
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There is a future and there are some threats.

Perception. Unfortunately, testing is easy to confuse with superficial activities mimicking as one. Managerial understanding of testing quite often is also shallow.

Distraction and displacement. There are "fun type" activities confused with testing: automation and coding in general, DevOps, Agile games, etc. It's great that people have fun. Within the project and business context, however, it's sad to lose testers to those distractions.
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The 'author' of this 'tale' is NOT AN EXPERT TESTER. If she was she'd know that 'user testing' is only ONE of the MANY forms of testing that must be done, long BEFORE an application is released to UAT. That's all I'm gonna waste on her nothing tale.
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How many ways can we tell a story? What's the best way to find information? How do we present that information? Are we persuasive? Do we actually persuade? In the end, testers and testing is all about finding the story of a product, and sharing information with people that matter, and allowing those people that matter to make decisions based on the intelligence we provide. THAT is what testing is, IMHO. The rest is just activities by many different names.
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It's important to prepare for the actual testing that you will doing, yes, but don't underestimate the importance of adjusting to a new office environment and culture, which is a necessity of any new job. 

I think that it's important to win the trust and cooperation of your colleagues, including the developers, project managers, other testers, etc. Without cooperation, a tester can run into so many roadblocks and it can become an extremely frustrating job. 
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