Complete career change to testing, any thoughts?

Hey everyone,

I’ve just turned 38 and after a few years of, if I’m being brutally honest, pissing about with dead-end jobs it’s time to sort myself out!

Since I was 19 I’ve worked in insurance (claims and underwriting), broking, recruitment, and general sales roles, I’m so very bored of telephone roles, and what I’d call customer-facing roles. My three siblings all work in various IT environments and by all accounts are doing well for themselves, so why can’t I? My twin brother has been involved in testing jobs for years now but by his own admission has never been technically minded (he’s now been a QA Manager for years).

My question is, do you guys have any ideas on the steps I should start taking to make this career change real? If anyone needs more information just ask.

Thanks all,


Hi @bencooper85
I would say start with doing a short introduction course, but do yourself a favor and have a look at automation testing instead of just manual testing. Obviously, both are very important concepts, but after working through a course you may have more of a feel for the career change.

In my humble opinion automation testing is also more interesting and exciting and is possible to achieve with little coding experience.

This is a very cool course that I have been following myself: The Complete Cypress v12 Course: From Zero to Expert! [2023]

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Hey Ben, welcome to the most amazing testing community in the observable universe!

I found myself in a quite similar position a couple years ago. This is how I went about it. Note: your mileage may vary, employment markets are different in different countries etc.

I already had some background in tech because I previously worked in telecommunications. That was handy. I’m sure you also have loads of skills from your previous career that are transferrable into testing (e. g. working in customer facing roles is an awesome background for a tester!) Anyway, I started googling anything about testing I could find. In the end what was most helpful to me was reading the ISTQB Foundation materials, just to get acquainted with the vocabulary. There is a lot of shade being thrown on ISTQB certifications (justly) but for a complete newbie I think reading through the materials can be very helpful.
I also registered on a crowdtesting site (uTest in my case but there are a couple others and they’re very similar) and went through their intro materials, that was super useful too - and free!

And then I started applying for jobs and got an absolutely amazing job offer in just about two weeks. I’m still at that same job four years later, learning new stuff every day and loving it.

Contrary to the previous commenter, I would not advise diving into automation before you know anything about testing AND about the fundamentals of programming. That is a quick path to becoming a very bad automator, automating bad testing by writing bad code. Not a fun place to be stuck in - and not easy to get unstuck from.


Welcome to the testing community!

I’d agree with @baysha that diving into automation may not be the right approach for everyone - it depends on how you learn, what you want to learn and what sort of testing jobs you’ll be applying for. It could be overwhelming, or it could be the challenge you’re itching for.

If you do want to focus on automation, MoT and Test Automation University have plenty of materials. You could also just look at Youtube for tutorials and how-to’s. There is also the Postman API tool you could look at as well, which is a great, and extremely accessible, tool for learning about API calls and how to test them.

If automation is not what you’re focusing on, at least in the short term, then I’d say you want to learn about Quality - and what that actually means for someone in the testing craft. Forget qualifications and letters after your name and whatever else… Quality is about building a culture and implementing small changes that create a safe environment for everyone to work in, that in turn generates good quality software - implementing Quality can require a lot of soft skills, like persuasion and influence, counter arguments and critical thinking - something you might have a big head start in if you’ve worked in sales.

My practical recommendations would be;

  • Start to frame your LinkedIn profile to be someone looking for a new challenge, focusing in Quality and Testing.
  • Setup some job alerts so you can see who is hiring, and what they’re looking for - this will give you a lot of direction as to what you’ll be expected to know. It’ll help you learn what tools are hot too.
  • Read up on things like; Agile Methodologies, Software Development Life Cycles, Continuous Testing, Exploratory Testing, Shift Left, Quality Culture in Software Development.
  • If you’re hitting the automation setup a github profile now - and upload any code examples or snippets you’ve created. This will help with a few things, like understanding pull and push requests, as well as learning the code you’re writing.
  • Consider going to any test industry events. They’re usually free, recruiters are always there (in fact they often run the events) - use sites like Meetup to find events in your area.

I could go on, and I’m sure you’ll get plenty of other advice too. Best of luck on your journey into testing!

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Testing is not dead end, so you are in a good place. A weird choice, but a good place.

I get the impression you are wanting to re-invent yourself @bencooper85 , which is actually becoming more and more common and easier to do as career paths and employment rates have been better for us than for previous generations. Welcome to the messy world of software engineering. Engineers hate talking to customers (not entirely true,) so you will be fine here. Bwah Ha Ha!

I can give one warning, there is a lot of free training online out there, ignore it, it’s all low quality promo stuff. Find an industry sector you are passionate about and have sales experience in maybe, and focus on the kinds of products they ship, and how to test those products. That might give you a better focus as you go in.
Then look up a thing called “Test Automation University”, which is sponsored by a big tool vendor called Appium. It’s not all automation focused, I would try do all of the modules that are manual tester focused. They are all free, they are peer reviewed (by us sometimes) and a great learning experience. As always ask questions.

Testing is definitely not dead-end! I’d definitely get some training and having an ISTQB Foundation certificate will help get that first role, plus there’s loads of reading material available (Cem Kamer’s Lessons Learned in Software Testing has been a starter for many). Having some real world experience in software usage that you’ve gained from previous jobs will be a real benefit - you know what users look like!

One thing - if you eventually want to get into test automation, make sure you’ve got a really strong grounding in manual testing first. There are a lot of newbie testers who want to go straight into automation but understanding test case design and execution, exploratory testing (and recognising the pain of manual regression testing) will really benefit you. And remember, test automation is not for everyone, there’s always a need for a really good manual tester (manual testing requires imagination and flair for knowing what might break a product and what a user is really likely to do - usually something the designer never thought of). Good luck!