Career Options for Testers in the Age of Agile and DevOps
I’m often asked about the future of the testing role. Should I change my career direction? What’s in store for testing roles? Will there be a need for quality and testing expertise in the future? As a quality engineer, or tester, or testing leader, where do I go from here?
No one has a crystal ball, and predictions about the future of testing range from “Artificial intelligence will render testers obsolete” to “Testing will forever be a critical core competency.” I’ve been in the information technology, software engineering, and quality and testing fields for over thirty years, and I’ve heard it all. In fact, in 2011 there was a prediction that testing would soon be dead and we’d no longer need testing skill sets, yet it’s 2019 and we continue to produce more code globally than we can verify and validate!
Critical bugs continue to be released into production, and both business and societal impacts due to poor software place companies in the news regularly. My view—although perhaps biased, given my history in development, quality, and testing—is that software testing expertise will continue to be a critical need in our labor force for decades to come.
Still, as we enter the age of agile and DevOps, the industry is changing. If you’re in a software quality or testing role now as a direct contributor or leader, how should you prepare? What’s your next career step? How should you equip yourself for our emerging, uncertain future?
Our software testing and quality roles must change. The need to deliver more software (and updates) to our users faster, better, and with lower cost remains a critical business imperative.
Here are some ideas to keep pace with the rapidly changing world of quality and testing.
- Never stop learning: Whether your employer sponsors training or not, you’re accountable for keeping your skills sharp and relevant
- Develop “T-shaped” skills: Broad skills give you flexibility, and deep skills offer you and those you work with specific expertise
- Develop deeper technical skills: For those in direct contributor roles as quality or testing engineers, technical skills are in growing demand
- Become an advocate: For those in quality or testing management and leadership roles, learn to be a great mentor, coach, trusted adviser, or evangelist
Enterprises, companies, and teams will continue to need team members who champion and drive change; understand the technical aspects of the job; can help with automation, analytics, security, testability, test design, and continuous testing; and have subject matter and domain knowledge.
Regardless of the role label, I believe the core expertise and skill sets in quality and testing, such as designing quality into all aspects of the processes and products and leveraging the best quality and testing practices, will continue to be in demand. Our roles are changing and will continue to change, and the same is true for other roles in IT. Our responsibility is to keep learning, demonstrate value, and deliver results to our key stakeholders.