As software becomes more complex, the industry is trending toward hiring people who have extensive technical skill sets. Organizations want the ability to have the same person working on various types of applications, technologies, programming languages, frameworks and teams. This brings a whole new level of challenge when it comes to the software testing profession.
Many experienced software testers have excellent domain knowledge, experience and critical thinking skills. Still, they may lack the technical skillset to build utilities, understand code or do development work if needed.
Many testers are still thriving in their careers without those abilities, but some want to become more technical to further their knowledge and give them more options on their career path. If you belong to the latter group, here are three ways you can start your journey.
Invest in education
Gone are the days when you needed a degree or certification to learn new things and validate your skillset. Now there are many online resources, conferences, mentors, communities and paid training programs available to develop any technical skills you wish to learn.
Start by investing in educating yourself. Be open to exploring new concepts, tools and frameworks through all these resources. Talk to various people going through the same journey and learn from them.
One great way to start is taking a look at your current project. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the current technology stack used in my applications?
- What tools and frameworks do my teams use for development and testing?
- What are the programming languages used to develop and test our applications?
- What testing tools, utilities and frameworks already exist in my company?
- What technical skills can be applied directly to my projects at work?
Answering these questions will help you focus on learning something that you can apply to your daily projects immediately. A common mistake people make when learning a new skill set is not paying attention to whether they have a practical use for it. They learn something new only to forget about it several months later.
Try to learn something that you can practice daily in your projects. It makes learning more fun and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Go under the hood
Many testers are intimidated by looking at code or trying to understand the technical aspects of a system. This is often because they feel they do not have the necessary aptitude or talent to assimilate this kind of information.
Testers need not be technical in order to provide value to a project, and the assumption that they need to be is untrue. But curiosity and a willingness to learn things make us better testers, so do not be afraid to become technical.
One way to change your outlook is to go under the hood. Instead of just looking at the application from the UI, figure out other means to test the same app underneath the UI. It may include API testing, using browser tools to inspect front-end errors, monitoring website traffic, doing performance and load testing, using headless browser automation tools, and much more.
Pick one or two approaches and start learning and implementing them. You can always take help from developers and other testers who have prior knowledge in these areas and learn from them.
Team up with developers
Developers are your learning advocates. Take advantage of their knowledge to gain technical skillsets.
Start participating in code reviews and pay attention to the code vulnerabilities the developers discuss. It will help you to slowly understand the coding practices, development standards and programming languages used, and most of all, you will get insights into the testability of the feature, test data setup needed, and any other factor that may impact testing.
Also, pair up with developers during the feature development process. This will help you get firsthand knowledge of the code used to develop features. In parallel, use online resources to learn the basics of the programming language. After some time, you’ll begin to understand the application code better and can even suggest ideas to make it simpler and reusable. Finally, you could volunteer to drive one of the pairing sessions and start developing simple features.
Following these three steps will help any tester get out of their comfort zone, gain valuable technical skill sets, and secure more options in their career growth.
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