I need advice on the next steps of my career in QA

Hi people,

I need advice on what to do next for my career. I’m QA engineer from the U.K. with over 2 years of experience.

In my previous job I was doing manual and automation until I was made redundant and now I work as fixed term contractor at big company for the next 12 months . The only issue is I will only be doing manual testing and I’m worried this will hinder my way to get a new job that has automation.

I’m thinking of doing the following till the next year:

  • Obtain AZ - 900 certification as it’s the cheapest and I’m using azure dev ops at work, additionally cloud testing is an interest to me.
    -Obtain ISTQB advanced automation tester cert, even though it’s not needed, I’m always eager to learn more.
    -Create 3 - 5 Projects: A postman project , high quality project in cypress & appium and a performance test in K6 to demonstrate my capabilities on my resume/portfolio website and to continue learning.

If you have any other recommendations or thoughts, let me know but I hope my plan is a good one? What do you all think?

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You’re right in that the job market is place a lot of value in automation at present, but manual testing can actually help you with your automation journey.

  • Are you testing throughout the stack manually? Looking at chasing data through APIs and testing services and analysing behaviour of components?
  • How about looking at reviewing unit tests via PRs to keep your hand in through reading code?
  • Automation testers need to be able to review things to advise on automation candidates, so are you pulling up edge cases and negative paths in your manual testing?
  • Is there the opportunity to turn some API tests into automation based tests?

Your suggestions about what you could do in addition to this makes sense. Having a portfolio where you’ve showcased a current and recent use of tools / frameworks is good, especially closer to the code tests (pytest / API based tests / unit testing). I also love to see tools like K6 being integrated into tests too.

I recommend also having a project where you do all of this in the cloud, get some docker going on and show that you can add tests to a pipeline (and report on them). Oh and maybe add tests to an existing repo so that you can show you know where to add tests (with the code they test) and how to structure them.

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Thank you Cakehurstryan for responding!

To answer your questions:

This new position does not formally use any form of API testing which is strange, which my next strategy is to be more visible about this issue. Their methods of testing is quite peculiar and I would like to introduce them to postman to help them in the long term!

All these concepts that you provide gave me a lot of insight that I could do in my personal projects and my journey throughout this contract job! Maybe perhaps journal my experience and answer your questions as I go along :smiley:

For this project recommendation, is there a specific website I can do this on?

Additionally, will having QA-related side projects help my job prospects in the future?

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Hi, Antonio!

  1. 3 - 5 of projects with different tech stacks will bring much more profit for you (as a candidate for a job and as an engineer) than certifications
  2. If you want to go further with test automation career - choose one programming language and learn it well. Build some portfolio projects as well
  3. You can make a notes as you learn - and share them as blog posts or just a twitter threads. (or even here - it is also a great platform).
  4. Many companies right now expect test engineers to be able to solve programming challenges - so you can invest some time and learn basic algorithms and data structures and solve tasks at LeetCode.

But it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to be a senior automation engineer, lead engineer, software developer, or DevOps engineer? The answer will shape you path.

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will having QA-related side projects help my job prospects in the future?

I can’t speak for everybody in the market, but organisations like to know that their testers (even those with automation specialisations) can test. It’s another string to your bow and will allow you to work in a team where you’re called upon to champion testing. Saying “what do we test?” is as important as “how do we test?”

In this video Nicola Lindgren speaks to a recruiter who specialises in QA roles. He mentions that places like to see people who can talk about lots of testing concepts and demonstrate them. This, to me, speaks to the need the market has for the tester that can do everything, that includes a fundamental knowledge of testing concepts.

I’ve spoken about this in a talk “Do we all need to be SDITs?” where I suggest that people don’t just want automators / testers. they want EVERYTHING.

Hey Oleksandr!

  1. Awesome, knowing this will motivate me further to increase my technical skills!
  2. I believe im quite ‘proficient’ with Cypress, but I heard its dying… is this true? and if so should I switch to playwright/selenium? But will dedicate my self on this!
  3. Yeah sounds like a great idea, I want to share my experiences and learn from others as much as possible, Thanks for the encouragement and idea!
  4. Yes you’re right! Although I’m having difficulties approaching some leet code questions, do you have any resources I can look at to further my understanding of these questions?

For your last part, this is quite a complex question to answer… I feel like the QA world is becoming part of many things… its now including many parts of devOps, security and development… so what Im hoping to become is an SDET

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Thank you for sharing this resource Callum, this is amazing!

You’re right and I think if I go into those concepts further, employers will be impressed on how you can express the diverse ways of test and what should be tested!

I will defenitely look into the video!

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  • As long as I know Cypress is not “dying”. It still has a lot of users. But Playwright is quickly adding new features and becomes really go-to library in case of E2E UI testing.
  • But if know a general WebDriver API and approaches - it’s no problem to switch from one tool to another. An ideal automation solution should be constructed in such a way that you can switch libraries with minimal effort to change the tests themselves.
  • For LeetCode - you can check the “Cracking Coding Interviews” book. Or “Grokking Coding Interviews” at Educative (I liked them). Or AlgoExpert. But remember - for LeetCode coding the key is consistency: to be good at it - you need to practice every day.
  • What is SDET in your understanding? How does it differ from automation engineer? Why do you think SDET is a cool and desirable job? (in your opinion)
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Thank you for providing this information, I think I will get cracking the code book as I love reading and I start creating goals for consistency!

And to answer your last question, why an SDET? Because in my last role I was involved with setting up pipelines, setting up frameworks from scratch for performance and general automation, add my own locators etc and I found that fun.

The world of QA is overlapping from my prospective so I believe learning to become an SDET would be a solid passion :grin:. But if you think otherwise, I would love to hear other views because I’m still learning :100:

I appreciate all the replies by the way, it’s amazing!

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Any profession in IT can be interesting as long as it drives your passion.
When I started my career - my goal was to become an SDET engineer. After some years - I’ve achieved it (even was a Lead of SDET engineers). But then it turned out that there were other interesting opportunities and goals.
By the way - SDET can mean different things in different companies. So pay attention to particular activities and interesting cases that you solve with automation and coding - not to the “title” itself.

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May I ask what other opportunities you went for and why? I’m super curious on what else is there too!

And will take that into mind, thank you!

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It was first a dedicated java backend software engineer. And getting back to a software engineer in test (not a lead) right now.
But other ways can be performance engineering, cybersecurity, and engineering management.

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