How I became a Software Tester in 1 Year
How to get a software tester job with no experience? What qualifications do you need to be a Software Tester? Here is my story of becoming a QA Specialist in a year. Step by step.
My road to software tester job in numbers:
- 12 months (from August 2019 to August 2020)
- 1-2 hours of learning a day
- 1 postgraduate studies
- 10+ online courses
- 1 ISTQB exam
- 3 months of seeking my first job
- 50+ sent CVs
- 1 interview
Before software testing career
Prior to becoming Software Tester (or QA Specialist as we call the job at Bright Inventions), I was a Product Engineer. I actually first studied Construction Chemicals but I switched to Material Engineering. After graduating from college I was working as a Product Engineer at a huge Polish EMS provider. I had no associations with the software world but I was working on a daily basis with tools like Jira and Confluence which obviously was very helpful when I decided to move to IT.
Why did I actually want to become a software tester?
That was summer 2019. At some point, the company I worked in wanted to improve the existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP system) so I started to work with software developers on that. My job was to make sure that the system would meet our requirements. Being a part of this process became quite fascinating to me. I was doing something like approval tests. One time I talked about it to my friend who is a software developer and she told me that I was doing in some way a tester job. I was eager to explore that area of expertise.
I started to learn software testing. It took me around 9 hours a week to study. I still had a full-time job during that time. I was also in the middle of moving to another apartment and had lots of dance workouts during a week. So a lot was going out then. I just want to show you that you can make it without giving up on your other duties and interests. 🙂
Steps I have taken to become a Software Tester / QA Specialist
1. Starting from Python course
My very first step was doing a Python course at edx.org which is a learning platform that I truly recommend. I started by learning Python to simply check if the software development would really interest me.
2. Reading blogs about software testing
At that point, I started to be a regular reader of a Polish blog by Piotr Wicherski. For me, that is a massive pack of information about quality assurance.
I also joined a couple of newsletters about QA and follow news from other blogs such as:
3. Wait, it is too much. How to get it all together?
I got quickly overwhelmed by the number of information I needed to comprehend. I didn’t know how to start, what I should learn, and in what order. Then my friend, who is a software tester, recommended me to go to postgraduate studies to get a structured plan of my learning.
4. Signing up for the postgraduate studies and preparing for the ISTQB exam
I started my one-year postgraduate studies in Software Testing at the WSB University in Gdańsk. The first semester was all about getting ready for the ISTQB exam. ISTQB syllabus was my “bedtime story”. I read it every day. It wasn't only about reading, there was lots of googling involved in the process. 😉 I had to check out lots of terms from the book. It was the hard work with the syllabus to really understand what it is all about.
The studies at WSB University were useful because my lecturers were software testers who do that job on a daily basis. So I could really understand the daily challenges that go with the work in IT.
5. Joining Facebook groups
Obviously, right after applying to college, I joined a couple of Polish Facebook groups that touched on learning software testing. Quickly my Facebook feed became full of tips and tester stories. These are Facebook groups I definitely recommend:
Tester oprogramowania - wsparcie na starcie
ISTQB - egzaminy, pytania, testy
6. Getting friendly with the console
Back then I was also focusing on learning Linux and basic commands and ways of using the console.
7. Exploring platforms for testers-to-be
I spent lots of my time at checkio.org. That is another website I really recommend. Checkio is a learning platform that teaches you programming. Yet, it involves gamification. You solve issues and then unlock other challenges. That was really fun and lots of learning at the same time. Another great platform is exercism.org which also gives many opportunities to learn various programming languages.
I also dove into mrbuggy.pl - the Polish app testing platform that was recommended to me by my college professors. It gave me the opportunity to look for bugs in 7 different applications. A very useful tool to learn.
8. Writing test cases
Back then I was also learning how to write test cases. My main problem was to write them shorter and more compactly. That was something I had to work hard on.
9. Doing Codecademy courses
When I was starting my studies I also did a few courses on Codecademy about SQL, Python, and CSS + HTML.
Back then I also read a book that was definitely too advanced for me. Don’t make my mistake. 😉 It was the Polish book “Testowanie Oprogramowania w praktyce” (Software Testing in Practice) by Adam Roman and Karolina Zmitrowicz. In my view, that book is great when you have your first job as QA, but before that, it is too difficult. So, make sure that you read material appropriate for your level of proficiency.
10. Crowdfunding platforms
Due to the fact that ISTQB exams were canceled in March 2020 because of the pandemic my friend told me about crowdfunding platforms for testing such as utest.com. That is something I highly recommend to people who want to become software testers. That was such a worthwhile experience for me.
Before you start to work on utest, you have to finish their academy. So it is a great option to know handy tools and build your first software testing habits. For example, you get basic knowledge on how to use Charles proxy or how to report bugs in the right way.
When you finish utest academy, the real adventure begins. You can look for bugs like (almost) in a real commercial job. However, the greatest value is that you can see how more experienced testers seek bugs there and how they handle the whole quality assurance process. That was the best part of exploring the test crowdfunding platforms – to see the best practices from more experienced QAs.
11. Udemy, Pluralsight, and other online courses
Apart from learning at EDX and Codeacademy, I did a couple of courses at Udemy and Coursera. I did Selenium, Python, and MySQL courses there. Also, I did various courses on YouTube and participated in lots of webinars organized by QA bloggers.
12. Passing ISTQB
After a couple of months of delay because of the pandemic, I was finally able to do my ISTQB exam. I took the test and passed it. I felt ready to start sending CVs. 🙂
13. Graduating from college and the first project on GitHub
My thesis touched on test automation using Selenium and PyTest and the usage of test parametrization. It really got me hooked. I spent lots of hours on it really enjoying it. I learned a lot e.g. the Page Object Pattern. This is the first project I showed on my Github profile.
A common practice to treat GitHub as a portfolio was never that big of a deal for me. So I actually started to update my Github quite late.
14. Looking for the first job
After passing the ISTQB exam I started to seek my first Software Tester job. Let me tell you right away – it wasn’t easy. I was sending my resume to companies across the whole of Poland. I got zero response, so after a couple of months, I became quite unmotivated.
Eventually, I set up a Linkedin account (more on that later). After 3 days I got contacted by a recruiter, had an interview and in fact got my first commercial job in software development. So it took me 3 months to find my first job. I should add that I didn’t accept that first tester job offer. I chose a job less related to testing because it had better benefits.
15. Landing at Bright Inventions and keep learning
Eventually, almost 2 years later I got to Bright Inventions and became Quality Assurance Specialist here. My goal is to get better and better at automatization. I learn programming languages for conducting automated testing. Now I focus on C#. I have weekly meetings with my mentor – a tech leader who I met in a course of my career.
At Bright, I work in a team that is developing iOS applications for our Israeli client from the ePOS & retail industry. That is a huge international project and a great challenge for me.
Last but not least. Top pieces of advice I got during my career change
1. Set up a LinkedIn account.
My brother (a software developer) was pushing me for months to set up a LinkedIn account. I am not a huge fan of social media and exposing myself there. I was very reluctant. Eventually, I did it. That was very good advice. Three days after signing up on LinkedIn the recruiter contacted me. As a result, I got my first IT job.
2. Focus on you and your story.
I was learning during the pandemic. That wasn’t the best time for people who wanted to get into IT. I read online lots of stories of people who were frustrated because they couldn’t get their first IT job for 6 months or longer. These kinds of stories were really a mood killer for me. So my friend (a software developer who also came from a different industry) kept telling me to stop reading that and focus on my learning. She set me straight many times making sure that I wouldn’t give up.
This is my story of becoming a software tester. What more can I say? Good luck and push it forward. You can do it!
Extra links from me. The last ones. I promise. 😀
I guess it is worth getting familiar with:
Resources for Developers, by Developers
Finally a guide for manual testers who are willing to start with automated tests: How to Start Writing Automation Tests