Testing as an entry gate to IT

January 12th, 2024
6 min read
Testing as an entry gate to IT

I’ve been hearing the phrase “testing can be a great entry gate into the world of IT” a lot during the years. Meaning - if you have no experience, (for example you come from non-technical field of work) then testing might be the craft that will make the transition much smoother. The expectation is, that the learning curve is less steep compared to for example Mobile app developer.

Some people don’t like this. They push back against this, saying that they don’t like it when people think of testing this way. That testing is a craft of it’s own and should not merely be thought of as a stepping stone for your career growth.

And I have to say… I kinda disagree, I think testing can be a great entry into the world of IT. This post discusses some reasons why I think that.

Let’s first break down what is it that people don’t like about the thought of testing being an entry gate to IT.

Problematic parts

When someone says these words, there’s two problematic parts.

  1. Testing as an entry gate
  2. Seemingly hierarchical relationship between testing and the world of IT.

Viewing testing as an entry gate creates an impression that testing is something that anyone can just start doing. It puts a bad light on the people doing this job, because It makes it seem like anyone who is doing testing is doing this entry-level job and that testing is essentially a junior position, no matter how long you have been doing it. And that can be insulting to the people who have been in testing for a long time, and love testing.

Sometimes, the relationship between testing and the world of IT creates an impression that testing is at the very bottom of a whole hierarchy of IT jobs.

Practical implications

Besides these two problematic parts of the statement, there are also the practical implications for this view.

Maybe you are a QA lead that tries to build a team. If you are in this position, you know how hard it is to find people that have the just the right skills, but also a passion for learning and some other great qualities.

You probably know the pain when you build a team of great people, and then some of them leave after they gain some developer skills. Even if you wish them the best, it can be frustrating for you as a lead and it can make your team a little bit more fragile.

Or maybe there’s tension between QA team and developer team and you constantly have to fight for your position in the company. You may be hearing sentences such as “oh the feature is done, we are just waiting for testers”, or “testers are slowing us down”.

And these are just some of the issues that surface when we you hear the phrase testing is as an entry gate to the world of IT.

About testing

Let’s talk about testing for a minute. I’m sure you could find a good definition for testing somewhere on wikipedia, but I like to think about testing as combination of two activities:

  1. doing
  2. analysing

I know this is oversimplified, but bear with me.

When people say that testing is an entry gate to IT, I think generally they are talking about the “doing” part.

We build software that is intended to be used by humans. So if you are a human, you can do a good job of doing stuff with the software. In fact the better human you are, the better job you will do.

So the reason why I don’t think it is in particular harmful to think of testing as an entry gate is that it is in fact open to a pretty broad range of people. Because in order to start doing this job well, you don’t need a technical skill, but you need human skill, which many people have.

We as testers know how important it is to empathise with our users, to put ourselves in their shoes and understand their perspective when testing. It is a very important quality for testers and it is a testament to the fact that even if testing is the entry gate to the world of IT, it does not mean there are no requirements.

So the next time you hear someone saying that testing is an entry gate to the world of testing, you can say - "yeah, and this is what you need to enter", "these are the requirements" and maybe even "- don’t worry, you got this or" “I can help you if you want”.

There’s no need for gatekeeping the entry gate.

"But what about the whole craft of testing?", I hear you say. Just because someone has empathy and can think about different perspectives, it does not mean that they are suddenly a great tester. And you’d be absolutely right, there’s more to testing than that.

Particularly when we think about the whole “doing” and “analysing” thing, really good testers are really good at “doing” and they are really good at the “analyzing” part.

In other words, if you want to become a great tester, then once you pass that entry gate, you shouldn’t just stop, because you already entered. You should ideally keep on learning.

The times when testers were simply executing test cases are long gone. We are now developers SREs, performance and security testers, we deal with product and design, and there’s simply a lot more than is being done in the testing craft nowadays. We can safely say that black box testing is over. Testing has become a profession that is filled with different skills, and there are many areas that you can specialize in.

And this is another reason why thinking of testing as an entry gate to the world of IT is not a bad thing. Testers often find themselves being at the intersection of different professions and oftentimes become jack of all trades, or even specialists in one particular area of testing. I think we should keep the gate open for new people to come in, and help people specialize in the testing flavor they like. But let me know your thoughts.

Happy testing everyone!

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