Tuesday 6 October 2009

Are testers paperweights?

Jack Dee once did an excellent stand-up routine on craft fairs, in which he was particularly vitriolic about a stall selling paperweights. Something along the lines of "A paperweight is what you end up with when you started out to make something else. You start out with grand ideas and then after a few minutes of trying you realise that, well , it is just another ***! paperweight".
I sometimes feel that software testing is perceived as a bit of a paperweight career, one you end up in when you started out to be something else. People start out writing code and can't cut it, or start out in a business area and want to "get into I.T." so end up in testing.

I'd agree that for many people in testing, it is not the role that they were working towards from the outset of their career, however, for many who come into testing from other areas, it can be a surprisingly challenging and rewarding career which shows a number of significant advantages over the traditional development roles.
- Testing develops non-technical skills which translate across technologies and remain valid over time
- Automation allows opportunities to develop/script in a range of languages, often with the flexibility of choosing the technologies to use
- Finding and diagnosing faults requires analysis and problem solving skills often to a greater degree than was required to create the original code
- Turning user requirements into test cases requires excellent communication skills at both a technical and a business level which can be invaluable skills to take into higher level managerial positions.
- There is a growing community of professionals doing excellent work to improve the perception and the status of software testing within the IT community.

Although for many people a software testing role was not their first choice, there are many out there who remain in the job thanks to the challenging, varied and demanding role that it can be.

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