The concept of “level up” originated within the computer gaming community. It has since evolved from gaming vernacular to a term that means proceeding to the next level of a person’s career, and gaining the requisite skills or strength to achieve that goal.
In QA testing, career growth options are nearly unlimited depending on your interests. Software testers tend to enjoy solving problems, piecing together impossible puzzles and asking questions repeatedly until finding an acceptable answer. There are many ways to level up your QA testing career growth and keep your work life active, enjoyable and engaging.
In this blog, we explore 10 ways to level up in your QA testing career growth. These methods can help grow your testing career and work skills while also helping you take control of your work life and keep it balanced.
#1. Learn to accept and adapt to constant change
Change is constant in software development. There is rarely time to sit and rest on your skills. There always seems to be a new development methodology, task, tool or process to learn. You must accept and adapt to these dev strategies to stay ahead in your QA career.
Change happens for many reasons, including organizational restructuring, cost cutting, spending increases and strategic changes to work processes. New and innovative tools or approaches might save the organization time and reduce rework. All you need to do is remain open to change.
Positive changes are always easier to embrace, as it’s harder to put workforce reduction, for example, in an optimistic light. Some changes might be perceived as unnecessary or useless. Stay open to these decisions and see if time looks favorably on these changes.
Ultimately, most changes are outside of your control. What you can control is your attitude toward change — learn new skills, tools and processes to take advantage of every opportunity. Resistance to change is futile. How you level up your testing career depends on your ability to adapt and manage change as an active participant, role model or leader. And if you’re not seeing the kinds of changes you’d prefer, look at that as an opportunity to get involved and provide a new idea or solution. Be the change.
#2. Model a positive attitude towards excellence
Work at leading by example. Even if you’re not a QA lead or manager — and even if you never want to be one — it never hurts your QA career to act as a role model. Pursue and insist on excellence.
Take time to encourage and inspire active discussions about team processes, dev team procedures or anything that relates to the testing team’s responsibilities. Innovation for new approaches stems from discussions among team members. Team members who cultivate a positive, forward-thinking attitude and learn from past mistakes can level up their careers. It’s a great way to get noticed by managers and leaders within the business.
Insist on excellence within your range of power. Maybe you won’t lead a full-scale QA resistance and march on the corporate office demanding fixes for all the defects in the software — or maybe you will. Either way, give it your full effort to find, report and track software defects. Be interested in the fix, and pursue it as long as you can. Persistence is a valuable skill for leveling up your QA career.
#3. Unconditionally provide information
We’re not talking about sharing corporate secrets or information covered under an NDA. But consider opening up with teammates and sharing your knowledge and experiences. The idea seems simple but sharing information and experience is often difficult because many people see sharing their know-how as a threat to their own job security. Some testers believe you increase competition and potentially weaken your own position as you improve the skills of team members.
Sharing your QA testing knowledge and expertise does not diminish your skills. In fact, by offering training to other testers, you build upon your own skills. Developing QA training not only builds your skill base in testing, but it reinforces your qualifications by adding training development to them. Training someone else forces you to go through the paces yourself — perhaps you’ll remember and be extra mindful of some basic skills that have become automatic over the years.
Additionally, training others helps create a stronger team. Stronger QA teams are more aligned and represent a strong network of like-minded engaged testers who want to improve testing.
#4. Explore the breadth and depth of products
As a tester, you are responsible for testing a single application product, or several application products. You create test cases for new features and perform regression tests so often that you learn how the organization’s products work inside and out.
Or do you? Some software testers only follow test scripts and never test anything outside them. Why?
Sometimes employees, including testers, become disinterested or disengaged from the work or the organization. Perhaps it’s an issue with management, job boredom or just a bad fit. Not all testers are passionate about application quality and the customer experience — and that’s unfortunate.
Testers that want a new challenge can level up by moving on to more engaging positions. Maybe a role in software development, product management or customer support could better fit your skills and desires. Whatever it is that motivates you, pursue it.
Don’t blindly follow the test script. Test the script, but also test the tangents you discover. Test the integrations, the connections and the back-end processing systems. Test and discover how far you can go; this is the truest way to learn how the application functions across the full spectrum, front to back.
#5. Select and pursue your niche
In the technology industry, specialization is important to your ability to level up your testing career. While there’s no limit to how many specializations you can pursue, it’s best to prioritize your approach. Here’s what a QA specialization priority might look like:
Manual testing techniques
Automated test development
- Security testing
Ethical hacking and bug bounty testing
QA testing education and training
QA lead, director or manager
Typically, QA testers go one of two ways: the technical path or the management path. But you don’t have to limit yourself to one or the other. Pursue any niche or combination of niches that appeal to you.
#6. Gain certifications in your niche
Achieve testing career growth by pursuing certification. The following partial list offers some software testing certifications to consider:
QA Foundations (basic skills)
Mobile Application Testing
Another option is to access additional software testing resources, such as the uTest Academy, which helps upskill some of the million-plus digital experts that Applause sources for crowdtesting projects.
QA certifications aren’t technically necessary. Many QA testers at various levels are not certified, and they have perfectly successful careers. Still, certifications are handy in your testing career growth as they let employers know what expertise you possess, and holding a certification demonstrates a commitment to improving upon your skills and knowledge.
#7: Enhance communication skills
Solid oral and written communication skills are must-haves for explaining defects accurately, creating reusable test cases and getting the most out of development team members. Keep in mind that software testers must communicate with product managers, UI/UX designers, developers, customer support and technical documentation professionals. These are people with different roles, goals and motivations, which makes effective communication a real asset.
If you have trouble communicating, you’ll have trouble working within a development team as effectively as possible. QA professionals must communicate missing requirements and ask questions about functionality or bugs. Improve upon the quality of your communication skills, and it will also help with how others perceive your level of professionalism.
#8. Build your soft skills
There are QA technical skills and then there are QA soft skills, such as the communication skills mentioned above. Soft skills are like personality traits; you don’t necessarily gain them by training or education — though those can go a long way toward improving them.
Some common examples of soft skills in software testing include:
Curiosity. You want to discover what makes the software work.
Creativity. You come up with new and innovative ideas.
Eye for detail. You can spot a coding or display issue quickly.
Patience. You’re methodical and don’t rush through processes, requirements or conversations.
Persistence. You have a never-say-die mentality about QA and digital quality.
Team player. You work well with team members who have different opinions and personalities.
Quick and/or eager learner. You’re willing to learn and absorb complex material.
Strong sense of humor. You help make testing fun for yourself and the team.
#9. Take on complex projects
Be the QA professional who volunteers to take on high-profile and complex projects. Don’t be afraid to try the new tool. Be the first team to, for example, automate regression tests. Whatever the project is — and the possibly ridiculous deadline that comes with it — take it on.
Fear of failure is no joke. But if you don’t try, you can’t grow. Don’t be afraid to tackle difficult projects, as there are a number of potential benefits. You may give yourself a little confidence boost if you’re surprised by how well you do. Or you may learn how to ask questions and find help. Whatever you do, you’ll learn. What you learn will propel you in your testing career growth. Don’t let the fear of failure hold your career back.
#10. Apply for next-level positions
There’s always one sure way to level up in your QA testing career — apply for a new job at a higher level or secure a promotion. Regularly check new job openings in your region to find out what skills employers are looking for, and in what areas or niches of testing. It can even be helpful to look at internal job postings, though you’ll likely learn more from looking at external openings. With the movement to more remote work, many remote job openings might be available, helping you to cast a wider net.
Monitor job openings, and when you see one that represents your testing career goals, go for it. You won’t level up your career if you don’t try. It might take time, or you could get the first promotion you apply to. The important part is to not let fear hold you back from leveling up.
Stick with it
Most QA testing careers hit roadblocks, bulldozers and rockets. What you achieve in your testing career in the long term depends on your effort, ability to adapt to change, work within teams of individuals, and your desire to learn, share and communicate exceptionally well.
QA testing career growth options are unlimited depending on the niches you’re interested in pursuing. When you believe in quality and excellence, leveling up will keep your working life active, enjoyable and engaging.
Don’t wait for a great opportunity to be handed to you. Make testing career growth a priority, and use it to develop the profession you want.