How to become a tester?

Posted: 12.7.2011 in Testing
Tags: ,

So you want to become a tester but don’t know how to do it? This is my opionion how to become one. I’m not going to recommend any book, I’m not going to give you list of courses you should take. But go on – read rest of the post and think how you can learn skills which are needed at testing.

The most important mindset at testing is curiosity. Be excited and interested everything you see around you. Computers and software are just tiny part of it. You should go to walk, do it slow enough, open your eyes, look around like child. If you look at the ground, you can see different kind of insects crawling around. Look at them, be excited how they look, what they do, how they react to you. Or look at tree. At forest every pine-tree has own outlook. Stare at them, touch them, even taste them, compare them, and learn that they are unique. That sound childish, but that’s what curiosity is. To be a tester you have to be curious about every application you ever test.

Read everything you can. There isn’t such thing as “unnecessary knowledge”. I suppose I don’t have to know Russian history at my work, but reading it helps me to see the World at wider perspective. I know how scheduler of Windows 2000 works. Outdated information, but it still gives me some idea, how machines are working. If is find new protocol, I want to find how it works, who has defined it I try to find implementations and even dig the transmission packets. These kinds of things are never unnecessary stuff. They keep my brains awake. Large part of testing is reading, understanding, asking and digging.

Learn new technical skills by doing. You never know what you will need at your work. I know how to code with PHP, C, C++, Java, Perl, Python, how to build shell scripts, I’ve tried Ruby, Smalltalk, Lisp – uh.. I don’t even know what all languages. After I know them, I also know their weaknesses. Quite often I develop small scripts which are helping me at testing. I know different operating systems. Some of them are dead or vanished to history. I don’t use most of them anymore. But every now and then I end up to project where I have to use knowledge about different operating systems. BSD, Solaris, different Linux distros, QNX, different Windows versions, DOS, CP/M – I can’t even remember all I’ve used.

Take part to open source projects. They are good field to learn new things, and also if you have done something to them, you can show from bug reports that you have skills to find problems and report them. If you have done something at open source project, mention it at CV. It looks good! Open source is my favorite way to learn new tricks, learn new ways to blow up systems. Just take part to random project at Freshmeat, start beating and contribute with the bug reports. If you don’t know what to do, go thru their bug database and see if closed bugs still exist or make sure that older reports are still valid. Reproducing and retesting teaches what kind the good reproducible bug report is but also how others have tested the application.

So that’s my short list. It’s far for complete. It’s only from my perspective. At testing field is plenty of different kind of persons. Some are artists like me, some are engineers. We have lot of different skills and we can contribute testing community with our personalities. So welcome, enjoy your way to testing community. Become the active member at testing world at different medias.

I love testing world, its exciting new ideas, large knowledge it needs.

  1. Good post. Cannot agree more on this “The most important mindset at testing is curiosity. Be excited and interested everything you see around you. ” Testers should be curious about everything, not just testing.

  2. Lisa Crispin says:

    Wonderful – I wish every tester or potential tester would take all this to heart!

  3. Freshmeat seems to point to

    -Ajay Balamurugadas

  4. Adam Brown says:

    Great post Teemu!

    Completely agree with “There isn’t such thing as “unnecessary knowledge”.”. The danger some Testers face is that they read Software Testing and Development text books and that it all they know. Read, do, experiment and bring all of your knowledge with you when you tackle a project. You never know, your Russian History knowledge may come in handy when you least expect it!

    Adam Brown

  5. Sigge says:

    I like your post alot. It is not the kind of list I would make, but you just gave me some new perspectives. =) Thanks man!

    • Teemu Vesala says:

      Hey Sigge,

      Do you have own list? I’d like to see it also. I don’t think there is any “wrong” list – they’re just different and shows different aspects of software testing.

  6. Good Opinion!

    The post revealed the important thing: skills needed in testing are hard to limit our outline with any model. This is a drawback, because models are easier to sell. It’s more concrete to give a ready made list of topics to study than to say that you should use your own curiosity.

  7. jyiyng says:

    any recommendation for software test newbie…i were from product validation>firmware validation>software analyst

  8. Wow..Thanks for sharing this nice post. Most Software testing companies look for someone who is an Independent thinker, has curiosity and eye to detail. QA Testing requires experts to perform.

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