In software engineering and testing we can notice many errors leading to defects, e. g. cognitive bias described in the EuroSTAR Best Paper 2017. However, in this post I am going to focus on another kind of biases or myths, which also have negative consequences. The inspiration comes from questions and doubts expressed regularly by readers of my blog for novice software testers in various messages I received during last two years.
As I observed, there are many people who want to change their lives, leave boring or poorly paid jobs to start their careers in IT. From my perspective some of them could be really good candidates for junior software testers – they are motivated, organized, patient, persistent and have a passion for technology. Despite this, their wrong beliefs hold them back from taking further steps towards a new profession. Below you will find examples of such myths.
“I am too old”
It is true that the average age of a software engineer is about 30. It is especially visible in countries where software development is quite young discipline, e. g. in Central and Eastern Europe. Even some influencers in my country say that software testing is not a profession for old people. In such environment people aged 44 or 56 (real cases) have huge doubts when planning to start career in testing. Is it reasonable?
I am aware that is not a piece of cake, however mature age definitely should not be a blocking factor. People live longer and retirement age is becoming higher. Furthermore, looking at employment trends in “The Future of Jobs” report, in the time of the Fourth Industrial Revolution we can expect very high growth of Computer and Mathematical roles and the reduction of Manufacturing and Production positions. Some jobs will disappear soon. Flexibility becomes one of the most desired employees’ skills on the labor market. Frequent shifts, even in advanced age, will be a must.
What is more important – life experience is an asset. During my career I met many seniors (60+) who had a great contribution to software projects. Their wisdom, even got from different fields, was priceless in critical situations.
“I have no formal IT education”
Most people think that software industry roles need formal preparation and computer studies. That’s why I am often asked by candidates for testers if it is really necessary. Answering this question let’s analyze some numbers, which may explain the subject.
Based on results of the survey carried out by Rosie Hamilton more than 60% of testers with lesser experience did NOT study computing. Moreover, 90% of software engineers say they are at least partially self-taught (Stack Overflow 2017 survey results).
My conclusion is simple – formal education is not critical. The crucial thing is the ability to learn throughout life, gaining skills which make us competitive on the labor market.
“I do not know how to automate tests”
In recent years we can observe how automation skills are strongly emphasized in job offers for software testers. Some of candidates may have an impression that this is the primary competence required from them. And they think that it is not possible to start testing without solid coding skills and knowledge of tools used in test automation.
Of course, testers should learn to code. In some roles it is mandatory. But generally – there are more essential aspects at the beginning. Especially defect reporting, requirement analysis, test cases design, implementation and execution. This is the basis on which one can build more advanced skills, like good approach to automation. Even best coders do not help, when the strategy of test automation is inaccurate.
I outlined above only three myths, that appear the most often. But I know that there are more of them. What are the other false assumptions among testers starting their careers? I will be grateful if you share your thoughts in comments.