Don’t just code: A testing career path

24 Apr

How it looks in testing now

I heard recently from an IT person say:

“for Software testing you don’t need to be able to code”

And then they went to basically describe the work of a software tester 20 years ago. I thought everyone would be aware the challenge of testing now, compared to the era of the ‘Internet of things’ and things that needed to be tested?

A lot of things need testing


“You don’t need to be able to code”, yeah right? I was thinking. From what I have seen in the job market, and outsourcing the most important tool in your box of tricks is a programming language.

With software testing in the year 2017, with Developing test automation frameworks, and Agile driven test cycles, in a lot of companies the testers are seen as product specialists, the go to people. in the year 2017, and the testing is at a very high standard, people who are not involved in the process would not believe how things have changed in in the last 15 years testing.

Just about every testing job requires some knowledge of programming and for a good reason too, there is so much testing to do for releases for Continuous Integration, limited human resources, self managing teams  and Automation scripts can work 24/7, you can’t!

It only makes sense…


When I was applying for testing roles last year before doing my Java course, it became apparent that if you were working as a Senior test analyst, ten years ago. That same person, without Automation would now be a junior tester, if they could get that testing role? For software testers its up-skill with an Object Oriented language or pick another career.

Since I am nearly finished an Oracle certified Java course, I can see where I would add a lot more value to a Dev Ops or Continuous Integration type role and of course, learning how to develop code in a way that others can read it, extend it and maintain it adds a lot of value to the testing effort, you could also add:

  • Engaging,
  • Challenging
  • And, sometimes fun to programming


I read a really good article today which covered ‘Career advice from the programming masters

Since I am now coding to continue in Software testing, some of points from the article might be relevent to you too?

On education

“The biggest challenges in life do not have technical fixes,” Eich says, “so it’s important to study history, literature, art, and other kinds of human knowledge than anything to do with computers.”

“Programming is a very new endeavor in the historical scheme of things,” he says. “One shouldn’t presume that we understand how best to pursue it.”

Instead, Hickey suggests pursuing other educational interests to help understand the kinds of problems programming can solve.

“The best programmers are those that can understand, communicate about, and solve problems in the domains they are in,” he says. “Software is just a tool for that.”

Writing, Schlueter argues, is a key facet of being a strong programmer.

Whether you go to college or not, try to make time as early as possible to read lots of literature and philosophy, both primary and secondary sources, and write as much as you can,” he says.

“If you’re not going to college, then as soon as you can, shell out for a writing tutor who’ll give you assignments and then help you polish them. This job happens on the Internet, and the written word is how people communicate there. The more effectively you can write, the better off you’ll be.”

On programming languages

[Pick a language that] makes it evident how a computer works (C), one that encapsulates that, a good statically typed functional language and a good dynamic language with a functional emphasis.

Johnson suggests learning languages with contrasting approaches.

“Languages can influence thinking about programming, so it’s important to learn more than one language, and to learn languages that have different approaches,” he says. “So, for example, an OO language and a functional language, rather than, say, Java and C#.”

On programming in practice

Hickey advises patience and preparation.

“The most important part of programming happens away from the computer,” he says. “Figure out what you are going to do before you start, rather than mashing away at the keyboard until you get something that appears to work.”

But once you do sit down at the keyboard, Eich advises, keep at it: “I still find Ken Thompson’s ‘When in doubt, use brute force’ saying to be eternally helpful. Don’t get stuck!”

One of the great things about programming is that software is needed in almost all domains. Pick a domain that interests you,”

Whatever you chose,  keep an eye on the horizon.

“Programming is pretty easy if you’re patient and keep learning. But eventually, all career paths either dead-end or lead to management of some sort,” he says. “Even if you’re focused on technology, eventually you’ll be leading people, so that you can have a bigger reach and accomplish more.”

To that end, Schlueter advises reading books on leadership, communication, and business as you go.

“That stuff is more complicated than it seems and is super important,” he says.


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