Breaking into Software Testing: Tips for Non-IT Professionals

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There are multiple reasons why someone from a non-IT background would want to switch to an IT career. It could be out of curiosity, financial needs, a better work environment, or personal needs. Some of the skilled testers are from non-IT backgrounds like journalism, arts, research, and so on. 

This article provides a comprehensive approach to switching to an IT job from a non-IT background by focusing on the three key pillars – mindset, training, and practice. 

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1. Mindset

Attributes of an IT Professional

Every career has its own set of values, skills, challenges, and opportunities. For any career – be it IT or non-IT, everyone would encourage and welcome the following attributes of the professional:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Skill
  3. Curiosity
  4. Learning attitude
  5. Coachable
  6. Positive attitude

Importance of a tester mindset in the software testing industry

When one switches to a software testing career, in addition to the above attributes, one needs to understand that testing is a search for information about the quality of a product. It is both an art and a science. There is a structure to the investigation and exploration. Skills like questioning, making notes, quick learning, working well with people, and working with computers and technology play a key role in a software testing career. One should be prepared to encounter chaos, and confusion and bring clarity to multiple stakeholders. A good software tester should look at everything with a critical eye, be up to date with technology, understand user emotions, learn to conduct experiments on the product, be a good investigator and have the courage, to tell the truth.

Tips for building a tester mindset

How do you build a tester mindset from Day 1?

  • Be observant. Ask questions. Be insanely curious.
  • Learn to describe an object or an event in various ways and dimensions.
  • Make notes and learn to tell a convincing story of why your experiments are worth your time
  • Talk to people, and users, and pay attention to their expectations, emotions,, and words.

As a mindset is a continuously evolving concept, do not be disheartened or feel overwhelmed by reading all these points. Take it at your own pace and be happy knowing that if you have a strong tester mindset, you will succeed in the testing industry for a long time. 

2. Training

Once you have taken the steps to build a tester mindset, it is time to begin training. We are lucky that there is no one institution or industry standard that dictates how everyone should test. This now brings in so many training avenues – blogs, videos, courses, books, training, and so on. When you ask someone about the variety of options available in software testing, you will be bombarded with combinations from these blocks. Refer https://www.thetesttribe.com/software-testing-career/ to make sense of these exploding combinations.

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The Testing Landscape (condensed)

The testing landscape and the changing trends

The testing landscape is vast and the trends change rapidly. The good part is that if your fundamentals are strong and you can learn quickly, you can switch across the combinations from the above table. Believe in the journey and start small with realistic goals. 

  • Recommendations for self-study, including a 20-day syllabus for newbies in testing

You could also start on a self-study journey by using the mind map as a guide. NPNT2zCawT8cPbU5 umny7Da lXxHgZRQ4047t dhdMPQ9jzj6 bvhgY7 X2SsySwUziXFbLK72 7WfF68gcT45vmmrHOlrDRA5n9ecefSuCXmA7pTTP 4whAsuR1dOGGFOh EUdsqnIkRS1McoybQ

20 Days Syllabus for Newbies in Testing

Another key contributor to your learning is an association with like-minded testers and learning from different contexts. One of the easiest ways to get a breadth of the software testing landscape is to binge on testing videos that are short and varied.

You can watch videos from TestFlix 2020, 2021, and 2022. Do make a note of the topics that interest you and you can then dive deep into the specific topics. You can take the help of the Library of Testing to know the different types of resources for a specific topic along with the votes by the community.

Importance of association with like-minded testers and learning from different contexts

While learning, one might be tempted to try out multiple topics simultaneously. Beware of learning everything now. Take it slow – both breadth and depth-wise for any topic. Also, do not hesitate to take guidance from a mentor. They not only help you get unblocked soon but also alert you of the traps you might get into. 

Once you have learned the fundamentals and become strong in a specific topic, it is time to consciously include practice in your daily routine.

3. Practice

Every professional practice regularly – doctors, lawyers, firefighters, writers, and others. As software testers, we also need to practice regularly. 

Some of the practical ways to sharpen your skills through practice are as follows:

Pair Testing

Pick an accountability partner, test together, and share feedback with each other. In addition to learning about different approaches for the same problem statement, you also build your network. This will help you in learning, brainstorming, and job switching too.

Online Portfolio

As you learn, keep adding the samples to your GitHub. When you test, add the test reports, notes, and bugs to your portfolio. You could also add your learning notes.

Contests, Hackathons

A good test of your daily practice can be assessed in the hackathons and contests held within your company or the testing communities. You can also learn from other testers on what kind of bugs they discover and which tools and techniques they used for the contests.

Blog or video

Do start a blog highlighting your experiences. When testers usually hesitate that the topics have already been covered, we should remember that every tester’s experience has not been covered. One’s unique perspective will always be the first read for someone. If not for others, write for yourself first.

Meetups and Talks

It is also recommended to attend meetups and conference talks, and also to present your ideas to a wider audience. You can discuss with testers from other companies, those who have already traveled your path and can relate to your journey. The ones who leverage the power of communities grow stronger quicker compared to the testers who restrict themselves to their own companies.

Conclusion

Having understood the mindset change required for a shift into a testing career, made peace with the multiple learning opportunities, and created your plan for practicing testing, it is time to take that leap. All the best and feel free to ask the community to help. We all welcome you wholeheartedly to the testing community.

This post is a guest blog by Ajay Balamurugadas. We’d like to thank him for contributing yet another informative piece for The Test Tribe. You can connect with Ajay at :

Written by

Ajay Balamurugadas, goes by the handle ‘ajay184f’ in the testing community and is continuously re-inventing his testing methodology. He co-founded Weekend Testing – a worldwide movement for skilled testing, authored multiple books available. His friends associate the terms – ‘Change Agent, Idea Man, Motivational’ to him. He tweets under @ajay184f and loves to have long conversations on software testing and life in general. He is currently working at GSPANN Technologies, Inc. as SeniorDirector – QE. When not testing, he spends time with his wife and two children.
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