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How to get into QA?

I've had people ask me in the past that they are trying to get into QA, but don't really know how, so I thought I'd write a quick post on what I would do if I wanted to get into QA now...

This post is going to slightly contradict my previous post, in that I recommend at least getting qualified, I would recommend ISEB Foundation qualification, whilst in that post I argued against the qualification route... 

However, let me explain myself a little, the ISEB qualification, rightly or wrongly, is required by a lot of employers who wish to get into QA, and whilst it does teach you the basics, being a QA is a lot more than that. It's about having a passion for it, about having the correct skills and technical knowledge. So whilst I do recommend the ISEB qualification, this is only the start of things.

One thing that employers love, and rightly so, is passion. A passion to be the best in your field, a passion to find bugs and break things definitely helps. But how can you do this when you haven't got a job/piece of software to test? This is where the world wide Web can come into play, theres billions of websites that you can test, be it manually or automated and let the company know of the results. This can be a fruitless task, but it shows a passion and desire to do well in the field. 

The correct skillet is essential, but what exactly is the correct skillet, now obviously you don't have to have them all, as none of us are perfect... However here are just some of the skills I look for:

- Curiosity: a curiosity and ability to think outside of the box is helpful when writing tests or even when performing exploratory testing. 

- Investigatory skills: important when logging a bug or having to think of what needs to be tested and how

- Observational skills: the ability to observe is essential, how are you going to write a description of a bug if you don't pay attention? Then there's the ability to see the bigger picture, are there any systems downstream affected by this change? 

- Strong Conversational skills: you as a QA need to be able to articulate what the problem is to anyone who will listen, you need to explain what is happening and if possible why.

- Persuasiveness: How will you persuade a developer that the bug you've found is a P1 bug and not a P3 bug as they initially think? You need to be able to persuade them, or at least come to some compromise.

This next attribute, is that of technical skills (I'll be publishing a post that goes into this in more detail). What technical skills you need will vary much on the toolset and languages used by the company, but if you think something might be useful then learn it in your own. This shows the passion you will need to succeed in your everyday life in your job. Some of the technical skills that I have and use in my current job are C#, SQL, vbscript and SoapUI. As I said these are useful in my job currently, but if I were to move then I'm sure that I'd have to learn a whole new skill set, but that's all part of the challenge. However, it's important to at least have some technical skills when applying for any job.

Obviously, there is also a need to document this all, you should do this not just in a CV (but definitely get that up to scratch), but think about writing a blog too about everything you do, not only will it show what you are learning to the world, but it will help you remember what you have learnt and it may teach someone something. 

Finally, and possibly one of the most important ones, is networking. Follow people on twitter, get involved in QA professionals blogs (be it reading and writing), read some books about testing to give you a better view of what actually is involved and get to testing meet ups to meet new people, you never know you may just meet your future employer there! It might also help to get a mentor, someone who can guide you or help you in your quest to getting into QA!

Oh and lets not forget, you probably need to apply for jobs! Some useful websites for jobs are Monster, CW Jobs and JobSite :)


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