So you want to be a Software Tester?
My best friend is actually one of the best software testers I have ever met. When I began testing for her consultating company I sincerely thought I’d found the perfect job. I could stay at home and work independently.
I received my projects, I completed them and I got paid. Alot. It seemed the perfect scenario until one day I realized that I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing. Testing was repetitious, often boring and I found myself dreading the receipt of each and every new project. Trish, on the other hand, was a testing maniac. She saw each and every project as a challenge and the satisfaction she gleaned from finding more bugs than any other tester was almost frightening. Even with her help and coaching, however, I just couldn’t get it and finally realized that even despite the excellent pay and flexible schedule, I just wasn’t cut out for the wonderful world of testing.
I soon realized that like every other job, testing required a certain personality type and I just wasn’t it. Consequently knowing exactly what I am not, I can tell those you who are actually considering this profession, exactly which personality traits will suit you to this industry. First of all, you have to be able to sit still for long periods of time; you need to be well organized and willing to systematically work through a project from the beginning to end. If you’re easily bored or find yourself jumping from one task to another, testing will prove to be frustrating and confusing.
Secondly, you’ve got to be just a little bit intuitive. Quite often, Trish would identify problems within a program that my mind simply could not have even considered. When I’d ask her how in the world she thought to test it that particular way, she’d simply reply, "I just knew." In the world of testing, you’ve got to trust your gut and in most cases, you’ll find that instinctively, you knew just how a program would respond. Many other testers I’ve spoken with will dismiss the intuition and insist that experience makes all the difference, but quite honestly, I believe some people are just born for this job.
Thirdly, you’ve got to be able to focus on the little windows inside the big picture and most importantly, I believe you actually have to have a secret desire to break things. The best testers I know were always taking things apart when they were children and trying to put them back together with a different result. Testing is chaotic, it’s fast paced and you’re often working under extreme deadlines. Communication skills are a must as you attempt to show everyone else what they’ve done wrong without getting them angry with you.
In the good old days, testing was something that was done at the end of a project. Today, however, testing is a part of the process from the very beginning. The ability to work within a team is essential. While automated testing is making a few waves, I find it extremely difficult to believe that it will ever replace Trish or any of the other born-to-be testers of the IT world.
In fact, automation is not designed as a replacement for manual testing but rather simply supports the skills that most testers have already developed. If you’re considering software testing as a possible profession, I’d highly suggest that you find a mentor. Someone who’s been in the business. Someone like Trish. Then spend a day with them at their computer. Borrow their project and give it a run yourself. You’ll know very quickly if you’re meant for this job or not.