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QA & Testing as a Career Path – Debunking the Myths

Ashok - Vice President (QA and Testing Excellence)
Ashok – Vice President (QA and Testing Excellence)

“Do you know that “testing” sounds like music when you go along with it for some time? Yeah! It really does!! Give it a chance and you will realize that. I know you love music”. This is what I told my friend, talking on the phone last night about choosing “testing” as a career path.

There are some common myths regarding testing career. Some of these are:

  • Testing is simple and straight forward, just follow the best practices.
  • QA and its related activities are mere cost burden on the organization.
  • Testing is not creative.

These pervasive myths often confuse people while choosing “testing” as a profession. But the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, if we compare testing with development, testing is more challenging than anyone can think of it to be.

Testing is simple and straight forward, just follow the best practices

Testing is not just about verification and validation. Most testers have the mind of an hacker. Testers intentionally attempt to make things go wrong to determine if things happen when they shouldn’t or don’t happen when they should, off course with all intents and purpose to enhance the quality. Testers need to have a thorough understanding of each individual project that they work on… They should go through different testing environments as they have to work on multiple software and hardware. They need to go through exploratory testing for complete understanding of project before they write the test plans, test scenarios, test cases etc.

QA and its related activities are mere cost burden on the organization

Is it a big deal if you save billion dollars by just investing some hundred pennies? I don’t think so! But if someone still has questions in their minds or are confused about why it is so important to have test engineers within an organization or why software testing is so important, the following examples might be helpful in clarifying their misconceptions

  • A new U.S government-run credit card complaint handling system was not working correctly according to August 2011 news reports.
  • Banks were required to respond to complaints routed to them from the system, but due to system bugs the complaints were not consistently being routed to companies as expected. Reportedly the system had not been properly tested.
  • News reports in Asia in July of 2011 reported that software bugs in a national computerized testing and grading system resulted in incorrect test results for tens of thousands of high school students. The national education ministry had to reissue grade reports to nearly 2 million students nationwide.
  • A smartphone online banking application was reported in July 2010 to have a security bug affecting more than 100,000 customers
  • In August of 2008 it was reported that more than 600 U.S. airline flights were significantly delayed due to a software glitch in the U.S. FAA air traffic control system. The problem was claimed to be a ‘packet switch’ that ‘failed due to a database mismatch’, and occurred in the part of the system that handles required flight plans.
  • Software system problems at a large health insurance company in August 2008 were the cause of a privacy breach of personal health information for several hundred thousand customers, according to news reports. It was claimed that the problem was due to software that ‘was not comprehensively tested’.

Testing is not creative

Testers lead the development team to put together a meaningful plan, understand the business needs, and test the logical, optional and failure paths.

On the other hand, the word “creative” might have different meanings for different people In my point of view your job is only as creative as YOU make it. One taxi driver could say that his job is not creative because all he does is drive passengers around all day. Another taxi driver could say that it’s creative because he tries to find the best routes. Another could say it’s creative because he enjoys meeting the people that he drives. It’s the same with testing. It is only as creative as you make it.

Every profession has its own value. It’s only you who can decide whether you want to do this or do that. People can just give you suggestions and can relate some examples or experiences that they have faced within that profession but it’s only YOU that can purely judge your abilities and can make a better decision.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” (Steve Jobs)