What’s the Most Common Career path for Testers?

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    Ronan Healy

    Having read a lot of the replies in the “How Did You Get Involved in Testing” thread, it’s obvious that many testers come to this industry from a number of different pathways with different experiences and backgrounds.

    I wonder if there is a common career path for software testers. It doesn’t seem like say, other careers, most study software testing in college (is there such a course?) and then go straight into a junior role at a company.

    If there isn’t a common career path, should there be one? Is it a good thing that not all testers career paths are the same?



    I assume if it there then it would be more beneficial.I don’t understand why software testing is not included in college/school education.As we are taught programming languages in college education which leads to choose software development but there is nothing like software testing stream that we can find in our education.WE have to take training separately after graduation. 🙁


    Some of the career paths that testers can use are

    manual tester -> test lead -> test manager -> qa manager

    manual tester -> technical tester (for api testing)

    manual tester -> test automation engineer -> developer

    manual tester -> performance testing engineer

    I have not seen cases yet of testers becoming business analysts or project managers.



    A counter question: what is the career path of a developer?
    They become better developers. Why not apply the same to testers?
    I have been (and still am on and off) test manager, test automation engineer, developer, business analyst, project manager, line management and I still consider myself a tester.
    I think I have become a better tester and that as a tester I am more at home at specialty areas like security and test automation but that has not taken me away from testing.
    So my career path is becoming a better tester.

    Ronan Healy

    Good point @kasper. I suppose all experience can lead to becoming a better tester. Thinking outside the box!
    It seems that with testing though that as @crystal states, a career path only become clear after training in the area for a while and deciding what area or level you might want to pursue.

    Is it a good thing then that there is no predictable career path in testing?


    After completion of my graduation in computer science , i worked as a lab faculty then i came to know about software testing ,joined a course in testing and then i become a software tester (working as a manual tester )


    I have about 12 months experience as a functional tester and I have now decided to start teaching myself Java in preparation to learn automation. I now live and work in the UK but plan to move to the US next year. The testing roles in San Francisco appear to be geared more towards automation so I hope this will help me with finding a job over there.

    I already have people management/lead skills from a previous role, so I could naturally go into a test lead position once I myself become more experienced as a tester.


    QA Engineer to PM, I have seen, quite popular in some software houses, Microsoft as an example.

    Ronan Healy

    @aodh-rua Do you mean PM as Project Manager? I didn’t realise that happened a lot.


    @ronan yep Project Managers, a pretty common career path in software houses, not so sure if you see it as much with the adoption of agile methods but it is still common enough.


    I see some common paths but I’m reluctant to share because I think it would be more harm than good, especially for those who are new in test. My suggestion as @kasper has said to be a better tester. You can always climb to higher career ladder as far as you can imagine. Don’t just limit yourself. However, ask yourself one question “what do I really want?”


    [removed by mod /JO]


    Tester profile is an ocean of opportunities in itself, it has a lot for every tester to accomplish. Learning and implementing the basic in testing takes year of implemented experience. One can decide to move on and take up a different role. This is how I define a role of QA(Tester) :

    – Does a tester role – testing the product and identify defect

    – Does a role of Product/Project Manager/Scrum Master – Identified defect needs to be fixed based on their priority , voice out priority to make them part of sprints.

    – Does a role of developer – Identifying the root cause of the identified defect is equivalent to that of a developer coding it.



    Every tester undergoes a similar process of promotion: from a junior tester to a lead software testing specialist. The step-by-step career path of a QA engineer is as follows:

    •  Junior QA Engineer/Tester
    • QA Engineer/Tester
    • Senior QA Engineer/Tester
    • Lead Software Testing Specialist

    @pranali Please avoid pasting your text from office documents into the content field and kindly check your answer after posting in this forum to make sure it is readable for others.

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