How can I smoothly transition from a QA role to a developer role?

In my current company there’s a front end / game engineer role which is a junior position.

I’m interested in this position but it’s roughly for six month and after it’s finished, it’s not guaranteed that it will be extended.

I feel I would learn a lot from the role and have experienced shadowing with the lead developer and collaborating with the development team.

In the past I’ve been integrated in their meetings and helped out with implementing code in existing products. I get along well with the lead developer.

I’m thinking if I should go for this opportunity or look for one that would be less of a risk.

Some parts of me feels like to go for it but know I would take a paycut and also after it’s done I might be unemployed.

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What’s your background? Do you have a CS or related degree, or otherwise acquired strong programming fundamentals?

Also, you mention it would be a paycut–how much testing experience do you have? I’m not sure a step down in pay is really a good long-term play (for example, it might look bad on your resume if you’re going from a senior to a junior role). A lot of testing skills are transferable and particularly if you do have that programming background and have been writing automated tests, I wouldn’t assume that you’re only qualified for a junior developer position.

Finally, if it’s only for about six months and no guarantee if it would be extended, I would want to find out what happens after that if it’s not extended. Would you return to a testing role, or would you be out of a job entirely? If it’s the latter, and your current position is a full-time position, personally that’s a level of risk I wouldn’t be comfortable with.

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@c32hedge I have a computer games design degree which is related to the job I’m applying to.

I’ve been learning how to code and during my personal growth time I learn about javascript and learning automation tools like playwright.

I’m got experience in manual qa, exploratory testing, automation testing, Localisation, regression, api testing. I have experience training and mentoring junior testers.

Testing a product from the requirement stage to release. Creating test plans and test cases to other teams utilse in their testing. I would say I probably mid level qa at the moment but have done Lead QA responsibilities sometimes. I’ve got nine years experience of testing.

The company mentioned if I get it they would advertise my old role. I want to ask my manager if I can do it as a secondment and if it ends to return to my old job. But was told by recruiter it would not be possible and it would be advertised.

OK, that’s helpful context.

I’ve been learning how to code and during my personal growth time I learn about javascript and learning automation tools like playwright.

What about programming fundamentals beyond just “how to code” in a particular language? Things like design patterns, algorithms, data structures, code complexity, “clean code”?

If you haven’t learned those underlying concepts yet, I feel like six months is a pretty short amount of time to learn them on the job and hope for the best, and with it sounding like falling back to your current role will likely not be an option…if I were in your shoes I wouldn’t take that risk.

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@c32hedge

I’ve learned some of that in the coding course I’ve been learning in freecodecamp and code academy. I would say for myself I have mainly been looking at it as ‘how to code’ in javascript

I know this role is a front end / game developer role so I’m not sure if all of what you mentioned in the previous post would be covered on the job in 6 months.

I remember when I was shadowing, I was learning how to implement small changes in the code. I feel when I was doing it was mainly understanding fully the code but understanding and learning to pick up the code base.

I feel with this role it will be more focussed on implement small changes to the code and doing a lot of debugging work and fixes to the code. Working on little aspects of each game that is in production and new games as well. Learning about version control tools like Git and Jenkins.

For what I’m told it wont be heavily game development based but focused on different aspects of web development and commercial software development.

I also feel it would be risky in terms of I’m not sure if what I would be learning would help to get employment in another company in terms of transferable skills

Just a couple personal observations:

  1. In my experience (I started my career as a developer and still write/maintain a lot of code as a tester), modifying existing code is much, much easier and simpler than writing something new.

  2. I don’t know how the job market is in your part of the world, but right now in the US it seems pretty rough—a lot of layoffs and a lot of people who have been out of work and looking for even a year or more.

One alternate idea that might be worth a try would be talking to your manager about your areas of interest and career growth. Maybe there would be some informal opportunities to do more development work without having to climb out on a 6-month contract limb? That also brings up another question I would ask—if it’s a temporary position would you get the same benefits (insurance, etc) as in your current role or is it a contract role. In the US at least, those are very different in terms of benefits other than pay and how they’re handled.

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I cannot advise on the personal decision here as too much risk and considerations that only the person making the decision can make.

I can share what I have seen when people look to make this transition.

Going back to a lower level is often the reality. The one’s I have seen look at it were very decent coders already though who had built up good coding skills in the automation area.

That became a tough situation to give them the developer experience they needed, senior and highly valued in the automation area but supporting them in a more junior capacity as a developer, management were supportive but it still seemed a very slow transition.

I found they were often pulled back to the automation area as they offered high value there or regarded as too junior for what was needed on the developer track.

Note that these guys would be chosen as a developer over someone new with a few years experience so I am not comparing them to new juniors but even then it was still opportunity rather than ability which was the main stumbling block.

I have no doubt they would in time make really good developers but the above created a bit of a catch 22 to get them that opportunity.

On the plus side for you is that you have that six month opportunity to show your skills with a team you are already familiar with which could offer more support and patience. You are looking to go in at a junior level so maybe less competition as potentially not competing with experienced developers for the opportunity, that’s something to take on board.

Have a chat with the lead developer outside of the office perhaps, ask him to be bluntly honest regarding the opportunity and your potential suitability for it.

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Generally, dev jobs are still paid better than QA so if you’d get a paycut, that means you’re medior/senior QA that would take junior dev position. I’ve seen people do that - it’s fine if that’s what you want your career to be.

But going from senior with regular position to a 6-months junior with no extension option can be a hard-hitting shock. I urge you to think about what you really want in your career. Do you love testing? Do you love programming? Do you love something completely different? It also depends how old are you, if you’re just starting your career I say it’s perfectly fine and you should take the offer but if you’re somewhere down the middle path, think really hard what you want with your career.

Money is always valid reason for switch (even if it’s future money expectations) but I’ve learned the hard way that money doesn’t give you happiness, satisfaction at work that you do is muuuuuuch more important - and money follows it in the end, not the other way around.

Hope I helped with my opinion, otherwise please ask for clarification…

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@ivoqa

I definitely still enjoy testing. I enjoy the exploratory testing aspects a lot and being involved in making the product better.

I would say I also enjoy programming as well. It does sometimes feel daunting but I feel it’s something I enjoy as well. I have been in QA for now almost a decade in video games industry and also gambling industry.

Maybe a part of me feels like doing something different but maybe it could also be trying something different in QA in a different industry which might also excite me as well.

When I was younger, I would have most likely taken this opportunity, but being older I feel it’s a lot more of a risk.

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Exactly my point as well. I didn’t mention risk specifically but as you pointed out, it plays a huge part in decision making process. And risks change due to our age as well :slight_smile: