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tester or developer?

hi,
i have the option of interviewing for either a tester or a developer's position at a local company. i eventually plan to get into something like microsoft's program manager, considering that, what would be a better choice? the tester's position or the developer's?

looking fer a job
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It depends on what you are intrested in, choose the one you like better. Its seldom a good move to pick jobs only on the merit of being a good, or "best" career move among the two. I would be hesitant to hire a developer that gave the development position a year or two before deciding that "eventually" has happened and moves along.

Accept the position that seems more fun/challenging or whatever you are looking for, and chances are you will do a better job and get promoted, than if you go in thinking that the position is simply a stepstone on your way up the career ladder.

Good luck.

Just my 2 cents,

Patrik
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Not sure why you would want to be a tester unless I don't know what a tester is. Aren't testers just QA / functional people?

developer
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Testers don't have a real career path, and frequently are the first ones laid off. I've seen plenty of developers go into project or program management, but I've never heard of a tester doing that. 

Unless you have a strong desire to be a tester, I'd suggest becoming a developer. You can always volunteer to do more than your fair share of integration testing or even transfer to the test dept. later on if that rows your boat. Its tough to do the reverse.
   

Eric Moore
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

From my personal experience, if you're a really good tester then you can make the move upwards. I used to work with one guy, who I have a lot of time for, who was a brilliant tester who found 10 times as many bugs as anybody else. A lot of those "bugs" were actually requests for features, so he ended up getting promoted to project manager.

No offence, but I don't think most developers have got the necessary people skills to transfer into management. What you really need is a separate career path for people who want to maintan a technical path without pressure to transfer to management by a certain age.

Better than being unemployed...
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Depends what you like better, also know for sure what you are getting into i.e. mokey emulator type of tester or writing automated tests/integration/performance tests.

testing can be very technically interesting but WILL have more breadth and less depth, for instance when I was at Actuate developers specialized in 2-3 DBMS, but the 1-2 qa's assigned to DBMS stuff had to know a little about all the databases we supported on all 4 OS's.  App server guys had to know 4 different app servers etc ...

Also a lot of places have QA do small development projects to test/help demo certain aspects of the software and these can often be fun.

As far as career path, it varies by organization most places see QA as an extension of development (though I believe this is wrong as there tend to be HUGE conflicts of interest there), other places (these are rarer) QA is very much in charge of the development process.

A good question to ask is the heirarchy of a typical project.
Does QA have its own VP? Director?

Also, if youre in the Bay Area it doesn't hurt to speak Russian

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 20, 2003

"Not sure why you would want to be a tester unless I don't know what a tester is. Aren't testers just QA / functional people?"

"Testers don't have a real career path, and frequently are the first ones laid off. I've seen plenty of developers go into project or program management, but I've never heard of a tester doing that."

I am sure noone meant to suggest this, but this appears to be a bit degrading towards testers.
They have a mother too, you know :-)

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Try for the developer not tester.

You can always learn test skills as a developer, but not vice versa.  I hate to blunt, but you should know this, even intuituvely.

Bella
Thursday, February 20, 2003

You are blunt. But why do you think you are right?

Why do you think you can learn testing skills as a developer?

Is it because you are/were a developer and therefore inclined to think that you can learn someone elses skills, but they can't learn yours?

Or is it because you think that testing is a lot like developing?

Or do you have to know a lot about testing to be a good developer? And that you don't have to know anything (about developing) to be a good tester?

So what kind of testing are you talking about anyway? Unit testing? System testing? Integration testing? User testing?

Maybe instead of being blunt in your response, you could be actually constructive?

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

"You can always learn test skills as a developer."

Well from my experience, I beg to differ. I'm fed up with developers who throw builds over the wall only for the software to keel over doing something simple, because the developer didn't know how to test it properly.

Better than being unemployed...
Thursday, February 20, 2003

A perfectly reasonable career path:

Testing -> Development -> QA

Testers are, as a rule, pretty low on the pecking order.  Somewhere above level one support, and below fruit bats.

Also, from what I've seen, testers don't get adequate amounts of time allocated for growth.  Not often, anyway.

Danil
Thursday, February 20, 2003

How is testing not QA?

Or, what is QA if it doesn't involve testing?

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I'm not sure, but I would guess that a QA engineer writes the test plan, has the final say on whether or not something gets released, and organises test hardware and software. Whereas a tester just runs a test plan and reports the results of it.

Better than being unemployed...
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Testing finds problems in product.
QA finds problems in process.

Testers can work through a test plan, and tell you how many bugs they found in a particular build.

QA can predict, from the trend in the bug counts, when a product will finally reach the quality target.

Testers measure that product meets its requirements.

QA ensures that those same requirements include the behaviors which make testing more cost effective.

Testers tend to acquire knowledge of the user domain or the production domain.

QA tends to acquire knowledge of the development domain.

Danil
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Actually in my career I have seen a good tester do very well. My buddy has a BS & MS degree in CS with 6 years of experience and he is in QA.

He does manual as well as automated testing. The tools he uses are Silk Test & Visual Test. In a way he is a developer because he is writing complex code but they are for QA automated testing not for development. He has shown me Silk and it is an OOP testing language - pretty cool. He got into a good niche and is the best QA guy at our company.

Also, when layoffs came our group had 20 programmers and 5 QA. Guess who got trimmed more? While 8 programmers were let go, only 1 QA was let go.

So sometimes QA can survive longer depending on how many there are and how good you are.

KenB
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I will stick to my OPINION that it's easier to move from DEV to QA, rather than QA to DEV.  Your mileage may vary.. 

Bella
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Better than, and Danil,

So are testers part of development, or part of QA, in your organisation? Or an independent department by itself?

I would say, since both finding problems in products and finding problems with process are supposed to improve the quality of products, effectively, they are both different aspects of quality assurance, no?

I have seen organisations that separate the two into different departments, next to development, and I have seen organisations that have a quality department that covers both product and process.

I can think of a few arguments for the latter. Any for the former?

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Practical Geezer,

I have never heard of QA vs Tester differentiated except here in a business software dev. compnay

QA's titles are more like Junior and Senior, lead or in more formal settings QA I, QA II,  QA III. And the level is determined in much the same way as programmers: What tech skills, They Have, How good they are at them, and can they design/plan


Bella,

As far as skills developers learning test skills and vice versa, well I guess you are talking out of your ass again you little troll, back under the bridge with you.

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I have to say that Bella didn't manage a single post in one of the discrimination threads after I asked him to show us his credentials.  Maybe he IS trolling out of his parents' basement ;-)

GiorgioG
Thursday, February 20, 2003

QA and tester skills are "educated end user" skills, coupled with documentation ability. Programming will require much more capacity for abstract reasoning and much more ability to create from scratch than a tester position would.  So I agree somewhat with Bella that the QA and tester skills are a subset of developer skills and that the developer skills are harder core, that is, more difficult to come by.


HOWEVER... how many pencil necked introvert geek developers have many of us known who are incredibly sharp with technology, yet have absolutely no "common sense" about catering to the end user's needs or requirements? So, personally, I think most developers could benefit tremendously from occasional *stints* in QA, just to gain the end user experience and understand better what it's like on the user versus the creator side of the table.

Also, as was pointed out earlier, QA could be a much more politically visible role in an organization than development.


And another point  is that "everyone and his brother" wants to be considered a developer ... as an ego and self affirmation thing... whereas the competition to be a tester is not quite so keen since testing is often regarded as "drudgery". (Just as 'architect' sounds cooler than "mere" coder.) So a tester *may* be able to shine more readily simply because the skills that could make you a good developer would contribute to being an exceptional QA person (and later, by implication, a QA manager or who knows what else.)

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I didn't reply b/c I didn't need to dignify your "troll accusations" or prove anything to you. 

Only an abominable IDIOT would think my posts, however blunt and impersonal, would be coming from someone without an IT background.  Anyone who thinks *I* am inexperienced is clearly showing his own lack of experience in the software field. 

Touche!

Bella
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Bella,


You'd get along with the others better if you would *very* occasionally validate something that someone else says and not always have to one-up it. As it is, your stuff consistently reads like "it's all about ME, the self appointed expert of all."


Besides, if you know human nature, which you should if you have the years in industry you allude to, you know that saying "me" and "I" constantly is *THE* most boring topic in the world to others. As well as the most suspect.

Chicken Fried Piece of Crap
Thursday, February 20, 2003


I've not had any luck finding it, but somewhere between 1995 and 2001 there was a discussion of career paths on comp.software.testing.  The folks who were doing QA pointed out that you don't bring somebody into that role until they've actually got some development experience under their belts - otherwise they just don't know what the problems are.

But, you might find the questions in this list give you some idea of which is going on around you....

http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=01bc905f%246be51780%241d0585ce%4004P0FSIA

To answer PG's question: In my organization, there is one umbrella testing group, which has the misleading lable QA.  Sigh.  My responsibilities lay elsewhere, so I limit myself to subtly introducing ideas and encouraging initiative in the right direction.

Danil
Thursday, February 20, 2003

>I am sure noone meant to suggest this, but this appears >to be a bit degrading towards testers.

I feel comfortable saying testing has no career path etc. because I was originally a test engineer doing environmental (shake, rattle and roll etc.) and system tests, then worked in software QA  for about three years at another large company, and only then switched to software development.

I still have a copy of "The art of software testing" by Glenford Myers, now long out of print, which I consider one of the most usefull books I've read.

Eric Moore
Thursday, February 20, 2003

wow! thanks, fer the range of replies. sure helps.

looking fer a job
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Bored Bystander

When you talk about QA skills you are talking about only one kind of QA, one who specializes in GUI's even there you are not entirely write, as many of the gui test suites I've seen (in Visual Test or Silk) were developed by very skilled QA programmers.

But think about if you wrote a mail server and hired someone to test it? You would need to hire someone who knows network programming and at least 3 protocols. not to mention how to (at least) use unix. Right?

Daniel Shchyokin
Friday, February 21, 2003

When I speak of QA, I mean to include every activity that is supposed to increase the quality of the end product.
And by quality I mean that the product not only lacks (serious) defects, but also that it fits it purpose as far as the goals of the end-user are concerned.
End-user in this respect not simply the people who use it, but rather any adjacent system that somehow depends on (part of) the results of the product.

In that context, testing and process are merely two different aspects of QA. And it appears that they are highly underrated.
That does not mean that development is easier than people here assure us, simply that QA is more demanding that people would like to believe.

For instance, as a developer, you have to translate requirements into instructions for the machine, but as a QA person, you have to validate requirements against a much less predictable machine, the human, as well as other "real" machines.
Is one easier to learn than the other? I don't think so.
Besides, there are so many levels in both fields, that it really makes no sense to compare.

Practical Geezer
Friday, February 21, 2003

Daniel:

>> When you talk about QA skills you are talking about only one kind of QA, one who specializes in GUI's even there you are not entirely write, as many of the gui test suites I've seen (in Visual Test or Silk) were developed by very skilled QA programmers.

That's the point! Yes, test is a broad and intricate set of disciplines. But that's also the problem with packaging it when looking for work. The hard core development level test person who simply a different breed of developer, will be confused with the softer skilled GUI based tester.

It does matter how a job and a line of work is perceived to the outside world. Rightly or wrongly, just about any work "stereotypes" a person with a label.

Bored Bystander
Friday, February 21, 2003

The trick is always to find people who appreciate what you do already not try to convince them. But, one place Technical QA's are appreciated a lot is large QA depts, where you have 5 "clickers" as we call them, and they need someone who can do the Data Base Test/Automation/App Server Admin/Unit Tests.

The thing is though its not just deveopment work in the conventional sense you could be developing a small "proof of concept" app one day, setting up app servers on unix the next and doing DBA work the day after. A good QA is a jack of all trades, and yes the "master of none" but thats what individual developers are for

Daniel Shchyokin
Friday, February 21, 2003

By the way did anyone ever see the Dilbert Cartoon on t.v. with Bob Bastard?

Daniel Shchyokin
Friday, February 21, 2003

"When I speak of QA, I mean to include every activity that is supposed to increase the quality of the end product.
And by quality I mean that the product not only lacks (serious) defects, but also that it fits it purpose as far as the goals of the end-user are concerned."

Actually thats an intersting point, because when I was at actuate, we essentially had to "be" the end users, which were other developers. I imagine people who test solaris etc... have to be pretty good sysadmins.

Daniel Shchyokin
Friday, February 21, 2003

I'm in QA for 4 years already. On my first job I started to write Silk Test scripts and work with Solaris/Linux "in shell", on my second job I was a Senior QA Engineer already.  On my current job I created number of tools in C for Load/Performance testing and I'm the only guy in the company who has the expertise in doing this kind of testing because I started it. It was very interesting in the begining but now I'm simply bored with all these test cases and test plans, I feel that I reached the technical limit in QA and I have to move on. I started investigating and fixing bugs for development and then asked the managment to transfer me to development. They going to transfer me from Sr. Software QA Engineer to just Softwaer Engineer position but I'm fine with it. I want to try to actually create a product, not just test it. Besides, in every company I've been, I felt that most people consider QA to be something "secondary" to development and I don't want to be secondary. So, the way I see it - just do what is interesting to you, don't get bored. Maybe in several years I'll get bored with development, well, I'll try to move to managment or something else, who knows :).

SF28
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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