How did you get promoted as a software tester?

I think career growth is such an interestnig topic so I’m keen to hear about others’ experiences getting promoted.

In my interview with @testerfromleic he talked about having an impact at an organisation, and getting promoted if your impact is larger (e.g. team - department - org level).

I, myself, got promoted into my current role, and showed how I had the qualities needed to do the job, based on my other experience both in and out of the workplace.

I’ve also seen others get promoted because they just happened to be in the right place at the right time. (e.g. someone left, and then another person left, which meant someone with just over a year’s experience ended up becoming test lead for a project)


There are a lot of factors, some that are in your control and some not.

Having an impact at an organization level is in your control. Assuming the organization rewards good work, having an impact on your team, department and organization can lead to promotions within an IC level / band. Its pretty easy to go from mid to senior or lead by just measuring your impact.

It becomes harder to go beyond that without the organization growing. I never got promoted to manger until there was a combination of big impact on my part + organizational growth / need. The same could be said about IC positions like Principle or Architect. That’s kind of outside your control.

As you said @deament I’ve also seen companies grow and/or just need someone to step up and fill in to do work. Some people get promoted by being there at the right place / time. However you can’t count on it.


I got promoted from non-Senior to Senior after 7 years when a new manager took over and was surprised I was not a Senior already and promptly promoted me.

Personally, I care more about the compensation, which has been decent. The promotion raise was actually very little compared to the year to year raise but now I have more “responsibility”.


Aside from achievement and effort within your role, the most important factors I’ve noticed in my time is having a manager who advocates for you (at least in my experience, someone needs to put you forward for a promotion) and the company having enough money to promote. To echo what @ckenst said, you can control some of these things but not others.

When I was originally promoted from junior to mid level, all those factors aligned.

I’ve had conversations with other engineers (both QA and not) where they felt they should’ve been promoted already, when I encouraged them to meet with their managers to provide evidence of why they should be promoted, they actually ended up getting promoted shortly after. Although it can be an intimidating conversation to have, it may well be worthwhile. And if not, you will come out of it knowing what your next steps to get promoted are.

The other notable promotion I had was from mid-level to test lead, this position became available because the previous test lead left. There was a round of interviews in order to decide who would get the role. Actually I remember withdrawing my application at one point because I thought there was no point in trying due to my years of experience, but I was encouraged to try anyway. :slight_smile:

I had under two years of experience at the time and I believe others interviewing had significantly more. With the pressure of seeing myself as ‘the underdog’ I made sure to prepare well, bring a list of all my achievements (e.g. leading testing on specific releases), and provided data (number of bugs raised and their severity) to back up why it should be me in the interview. It worked :slight_smile:

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I’ll assume this definition of promotion: raise (someone) to a higher position or rank.
I’ve never been promoted due to chance. I have been in testing for 12 years, in 3 countries, in 5 working places. I did get a few small salary increases in some places.
I did get offers from previous managers to lead or manage other teams in the companies they moved to where they had authority. I didn’t take these offers due to other factors.

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I agree with @qamy that a manager advocating for you is an important factor. My manager made sure that I had my first promotion lined up before I even joined the company. Every tester that joins as Junior will get promoted when they pass the ISTQB. My promotion to Senior happened because of my positive impact on the team and organisation. It’s something that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do to this degree if my manager hadn’t quit leaving me in charge of the product.
We recently even expanded the functional role career path. Not everyone wants to be a manager, but they should still be able to progress.

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I will tell you my experience:

Most important - Attitude - You should have the right attitude at everything - right attitude at work, Right attitude within the team, Attitude to learn, Attitude to succeed, Attitude to grow, Attitude to learn from others, Attitude to seek help when required, Attitude to dare, Attitude to accept failures, Attitude to accept success and stay grounded, and most importantly a Positive attitude and outlook at life.

Besides that, we need to do some of the below:

First, express your desire to be promoted to the next level. Without you telling that you are looking to be promoted, nobody will know. This way you are planting the seed in your manager’s mind and he will remember that you are looking for growth. In India we have a saying, ‘Only a crying baby gets the milk’

Second: Be Proactive and Make yourself visible - Offer your services to any new initiative or existing initiative and try to drive it. Even if you have no idea, dare to do it , support will come and you will see the stars align. Write articles in company magazines, or speak about testing in internal meetings. Show everybody that you are here.

Third, Never stop learning - either learning from books, experiences or others. Keep an open mind and look for opportunities to learn.

When you do the above, people will automatically notice you and you will be provided opportunities. And always try to go over and beyond!!!

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Make yourself heard, especially on those issues that noone does like to bring up. Show that you can take on a helicopter view of things. Take responsibility for common ventures.

A word of caution, if you get to managerial positions, you will see new horizons, like be working in managerial groups where people are quite offensive. Sitting in meetings for a great deal of the working days. Handling people in all kinds of mental and physical states, it´s not only about nicer salaries. Quite many that become promoted to managerial functions will step back from that later. It´s for some but not for all.

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I started the testing team at my org and I had a fair amount of drive and desire to improve things. I have moved up four positions, right under director of QA over the last five years. In the big picture, I was okay with handling a management role (I have a team) vs being an IC and I tried to treat each day like I owned the business shaped by goals and objectives around how if I owned the business, how would I handle quality. I had a vision, plan, OKRs, and grew my team.
There are a few general tips I have found that I tell those on my team that I feel have helped grow their career. First off, if you are ever making a meeting or have a regular meeting with someone, have an agenda and goal. Secondly, make your work visible. It could be to those on your team or management and leadership, but without visibility, you may be overlooked as someone not contributing as much when it comes time to be promoted. Finally, come to problems with ideas for solutions vs. bringing up issues without having something in mind for addressing it. I find these things are small but go a long way.

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TLDR: I applied to be a security guard and they said I wasn’t educated enough. So they hired me in as a Quality Engineer with no code or QA experience and now, 3 years later, helping lead entire architecture initiatives across our IT floor.

So I was pretty unhappy with my life and working sales for 10years and a wrestling coach for 3. I was so unhappy I made the decision to sell everything to my name. My house, my furniture… anything to get me some money to go to school. I only kept my PC , car and dog. I convinced my parents who happily let me move back in. So while I was looking at schools I realized that I still had bills and a dog to care for. So my bestfriend told me to apply at his job as a security officer. This was during covid so no one was in office so I could in theory do some school work while sitting at a door that no one was coming in for.

So I get an interview and they tell me. I do not have the education for the role (I have no degree). But the recruiter asked me about my life. So I told him about how I worked as a custom PC builder. No Coding experience and no QA experience. I sold and built PCs. I didn’t touch software really. So we got on the topic and told him my drastic change in circumstance, about quitting my job, and selling everything to get some cert or degree in IT. The recruiter literally said. “Why spend money on a degree when we will pay to do get trained?” I was shocked! The only thing I had to do was ‘survive’ the group interview.

The group interview was wild. Everyone in there were undergrads, industry professionals. A close friend of mine(now) was a physics major and a comp sci. undergrad. I was the only one in there with literal no experience. The hacker rank. Failed. The group project. Failed. I honestly don’t know how I got hired in, but I did.

Now 3 years later I’m out of training and now I’m helping redefine the training that I went through. Working with Architects and introducing new strategies and techniques to our teams. It’s been an insane ride and let me tell you the imposter syndrome is strong. It’s a daily struggle for me but I have learned to take it in strides and treat each day as a ‘hands-on technical college’. And everyone is so eager to learn and teach. It’s been an awesome journey for me.