Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All wannabe software testers out there …

An anonymous comment posted on my blog read “hi i am non IT background i want to do software testing course in india. if some give me some of the institution in india who teach very well that help u when u get job for software testing and ISTQB test exam.”

Nothing new here, I receive mails regularly asking for suggestion on how to get on a fast track for software testing and get a job. This particular post has three dangerous things that I see – which a new entrant in software testing should be aware of and avoid them.

“Software Testing course” – Let me tell you from my experience – there no such course in world that can make you a tester worth a job overnight. Any course that claims to do is a complete hoax and fraud. Shorter the course duration and taller the claims made by it – deadlier it is. Folks – be aware of such courses that claim you to get a testers job – please don’t fall into the trap. Another dangerous mix or variation here is – claim of “teaching automation or one or more world leading automation tool”. If you want to be software tester - no matter whether you are from IT or non IT background – don’t waste your money and/or time on such courses.

“ISTQB” (replace this with any popular testing certification” – while much has been written by my colleagues and many real life (not so pleasant) experiences out there – I would want to touch upon one thing. ISTQB or for that matter any testing certification WILL NOT teach you how to DO testing and how to gain expertise at it. That is their limitation. Please understand it. Considering certifications as businesses making money – teaching testing and assessing testing skill of a candidate in real time is not their cup of tea. Real certifications and exams that do subjective assessment of testing skill – are not scalable and hence certification people can’t make fast money.

ISTQB and other certifications have done one thing well – marketing. In India, many organizations and recruiters insist one or other testing certification as a must for an entry level testing job. In some others, attaining certifications is a criterion for promotion. Sad state of affairs – though. Sad – because it sets a wrong precedent. It creates wrong expectations among entrants and companies that hire these newbies. It creates a wrong image about software testing in general and at times it trivializes the craft. I have people telling me how easy was to pass a certification exam when they had no prior background or practice about testing. At the most you can get to know some terms used in testing and their fixed meaning as used by a specific group of people. Worst - in some cases they are taught as though those terms have universal meaning and acceptance.

Getting Job – this is third danger in the wannabe’s should avoid. While in some cases you might be lucky get a job using some testing course or certification (hiring process for software testing in India – lot needs to improve – but that is a different topic) – you will not survive long unless you practice real testing – get your hands dirty, feel and learn to think like tester. I can relate software testing skill to that of a musician. If you want to be an expert guitarist – what would you do? Take a 2 week course and a certification (theory) exam and claim a professional guitarist job? As taking a 2 week guitar crash course will not make you a competent – taking a software testing course will not prepare you for a professional career. Similarly learning few words and vocabulary related to music and guitar – will not help you to give performances – though knowing common words and their meanings can be helpful. This is not much different with respect to software testing – getting an ISTQB can help you to know words like “regression testing” and “severity of a software bug” – but those are mere words. Role of ISTQB ends there and real work of practicing testing starts.

In a nutshell – if you are reading this post, is someone who is trying to make it to software testing, want to get an IT job in software testing – here is what you need to keep in mind

Don’t do these things:

  1. Look for or ask for software testing institute that gives a software testing course (shorter the better. One that guarantees job – the gem)
  2. Taking a certification – especially when you have no clue on what is software testing.
  3. Look for job on the basis of 1 and 2 above.
  4. Don’t take a crash course on automation or automation tools in order to get a software testing job.
  5. Take shortcuts

Do these things (few of things that personally helped me in my career) – Try them

  1. Have a time horizon of 1-2 years to the minimum and a complete dedication to learn and practice software testing
  2. Get a mentor – there are many willing to mentor if you show real passion and dedication. Read software testing blogs and engage in conversation. Use social media to your advantage – blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedIn. Make your presence felt as hungry, passionate new comer in software testing – let world notice you. Build reputation.
  3. Practice testing - A platform I recommend is weekendtesting.

Any questions?



Calkelpdiver said...


Wow! Nice post and right on target. I know we have agreed to disagree in the past, but this one I'm in total agreement with you.

I'm sure some groups (ISTQB) will be wanting your head for this blasphemy, but good for you for calling it like it is.

Now get this into a whitepaper of some type and get it to Management & HR so they can get a clue. Once "other" groups start to realize what you're talking about here then we as a profession might have some hope.

Again, nice job. I'll be sure to bookmark this one for future reference.



tarun k said...

There seem a need for some thing which could replace "cerification mania", especially in Indian IT industry. May be some thing like - contribution to open source, Stack Overflow recommendation etc. Last time (and the only time) I wrote a testing certificate was when I had to work on a project and my manager asked me to do so. I did not get to work on project and my certificate writing was worthless any way :-<

Preeti said...

very nice blog

Anonymous said...

Nicely stated all the fraud things about the training related to the courses available for learning and gain experience in Software Testing. Its not about being an IT graduate or not, its all about what you know through your application of your theory stuff and then apply it on any Organization which provides hands on experience on Software Testing Services. So go ahead and try the most to apply your knowledge as it gets worse when you face the reality.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shrini,

Nice blog. Yes that has been the case with me as well...I was asked to go for a certification; not the one you mentioned but CSTE
Could you please throw some light on how valuable this certification is?

Although i secured 74% in it and passing is 75% ... hence i will have to go for it once again...hence wanted to know if it is worth going for it or not.

Shrini Kulkarni said...

>>> Yes that has been the case with me as well...I was asked to go for a certification; not the one you mentioned but CSTE
Could you please throw some light on how valuable this certification is?

Value of any certification, for me, is based on skills it adds to you. For certifications like CSTE, for passing it, requires you to mug up hell lot of terminologies. You must know that there are no universal definitions of the words that we use in day today testing.

Thus, memorizing a set of terminologies does not any new skill to you as a professional. It is somewhat like a toddler learning "baba black sheep" like poem.

Having said that - if there is an employer willing to hire just because of this certification and you are in need of a job to meet your ends - go ahead to do the certification.

Beware - you are doing it to get "this" job. Once you get the job - you will need to excel in doing testing and improve your skills - there certification will not help.

Get your hands dirty - it will help.

Although i secured 74% in it and passing is 75% ... hence i will have to go for it once again...hence wanted to know if it is worth going for it or not.

It depends on how much money is on the table. if job is at stake - go for retry.