Which software testing training route is the best to take?

Finally there are funds available for training, but where should software testers invest? Expert tester Gerie Owen offers her advice on getting the most out of the opportunity.

After a hiatus of several years, my company is finally allocating budget toward software testing training again. What should I ask for?

Congratulations on getting the opportunity to participate in some training. First, don't turn it down. Many staff members are reluctant to take the time and effort to understand the opportunities and justify them to get funding. Others don't care to travel to courses or conferences, preferring the predictability of a normal workday in the office.

As for how you might use such a software testing training opportunity, it depends on your own career goals as well as how you can best return the investment to your company. First, think about the direction you would like to go in; that may be a specialization within testing, such as automation or exploratory. You may also want to focus on a particular type of technology, such as web, embedded or device testing.

Alternatively, your company may be either actively engaged in or looking toward Agile or DevOps methodologies. One or both of these may be of long-term interest to you, and you may be able to give both your company and your career a jump-start in these areas.

As you move forward to justify the money and out-of-office time that will be necessary, support your selection by first demonstrating how it fits into your organizational goals. Tie it directly to an ongoing project or initiative and explain how having this training could make a difference in that effort.

Sometimes, the result of software testing training can't be valued directly. Technical skills don't always clearly relate to current projects, and soft skills may improve your teamwork or leadership ability, but may not be immediately visible in your work. In those cases, you have to stress future benefits to your employer.

Another thing you have to decide is what kind of training is most appropriate; there may be short courses you can attend or conferences in which to participate. Conferences give you the opportunity to sample many different topics and perspectives, while courses may be more intensive, but focused on a single topic. Either way, use the opportunity to learn as much as you can.

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