Stuck at career growth within QA - seeking advice

hi MoT pals,

I’ve been in QA for 15 years, currently holding the title of Senior Quality Engineer. I started as an intern and stuck with the same company. While I’ve dabbled in Cypress and RubyMine, it’s not my expertise. Manual testing( acceptance, exploratory tests) are my strengths, and I enjoy them thoroughly. Despite not being outspoken, I maintain good relationships with my colleagues, and they appreciate my work.

I excel in multitasking and providing support to multiple teams simultaneously (due to lack of enough QA ) I’m at a career crossroads that aligns with my personality. I’m steering away from automation testing, which is now handled by development teams under my guidance. I provide scenarios and advice to make their tests efficient. I always think about introducing tools to the team that can benefit and enhance our overall performance.

I’m unsure about my next move and feeling a bit stuck. Our QA team is small, and I lack peers to discuss career growth. Any suggestions or insights would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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Project management sounds like it would be a good fit for you if you’ve had experience jugging different tasks and working with different teams.

Maybe Product management as well or a product owner.

Also being a techincal writer if you enjoy writing documentation within the QA team and user documentation.

Someone give me advice about accessibility testing. It might be a good link for acceptance and exploratory testing.

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Hi there!

I’ve been speaking to people about their career progression in testing and have also written a blog post about it to help people. My main advice is that as a testing professional, to progress your career it’s not about becoming an automator or a project manager but instead looking at your influence.

At a junior level, a tester can influence their own work.
A mid level tester will influence the work of their peers and other testers.
A senior tester should be influencing a project.

To progress, we need to start looking at ways to influence larger spheres. How can you influence a domain, company or programme of work? That could be things like: creating approaches and strategies, training the organisation on testing concepts, running proof of concepts for new tools and techniques and being vocal to push scope and risks up to the business.

As a fellow exploratory tester, what I’d found starts to give me greater influence is looking at how to push information up to help decision making. how can I benchmark or explore the risks of something and share that into the organisation to set scope of testing and aid understanding of quality?

On a more practical level, some organisations don’t have a testing career path beyond senior tester. You’d have to think about whether you wanted to become a manager (and take on line management of testers), or whether you’d want to move companies. If it’s the latter then I recommend showing that you have a greater sphere of influence through blogging and making posts for the community.

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Adding onto @cakehurstryan

Perhaps you could become the first principal or Staff-level tester in your company? - or someone who leads testing activities in larger scope than just the day-2-day grind? The staff-level testers with an even larger span of is inspired from the following:

All the best in finding a new path within testing :slight_smile:

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I will look into this

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Hi Rasa tester!
I would also consider thinking about what in your day-to-day job energizes you and makes you want to show up to work. Do you like working with people as more of a manager track or more of an individual contributor path? Is there a way you can create a new path in your current org within testing? It sounds like some of what you do is quality advocate work so if a need exists, perhaps you can build that path out. Are there jobs you see others do in your org that interest you? Perhaps you can shadow them for some portion of your week.

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Thanks for your comment @oconis
I’d like to work more on the Individual contributor path. Yes, you are right; I’m more on the quality advocate path now. I used to feel content when I did things on my own. It doesn’t come with this managerial work. And somebody must recognize and appreciate the work I do, as I cannot see it by myself…And I guess i should change this mindset…

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Thank you @jesper will look into it in detail

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I will check this out and come back. Thank you @cakehurstryan

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Let me write my personal situation and if you wish, do not hesitate to make me any advise.

I started as a manual tester before 20 years for 1.5 year. Afterwards i become web developer step-by-step. For more than the laste year i’m trying to find a job in QA after having gaining a related certification into the QA area. Therefore i’m supposed to start at junior/entry position but in most of the cases during the job search, companies require at least 1+ or 2+ years of experience. What i’m doing is to try to make my own QA projects and upload them on GitHub.

Thank you for your time to read my story.
Georgios G.

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I feel the same about just being content with doing things on my own.

It’s more difficult trying to influence the team towards quality because you might not have the necessary authority to do, or some people are not inclined to try new things, or there is just no time, etc. I also don’t want to go to a team and dictate we have to do this and that. All I can do is really add suggestions on things to try, etc.

I think the transition from senior QA to quality coach/advocate is very hard because there is no one size fits all approach since there is a lot that depends on the organization, the team, the people and on the QA as well.

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What excites you each day to go to work? That can be a really hard question to answer.

if it’s nothing, then what you may need is just a job at a new company. Testing something completely different. After recently changing jobs after 13+ years at a company, I find myself enjoying going to work.

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Absolutely, I completely agree with your perspective. QA-related tasks might take a backseat to more urgent priorities.

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@kevin_k Thanks for your message . I’m not bored with my work at all; there are numerous exciting projects to be a part of. However, I’m interested in exploring new horizons beyond the usual tasks i do, such as doing acceptance tests, monitoring user journey tests or troubleshooting test failures etc. Simply switching jobs wouldn’t bring much change if I end up doing the same tasks.

What aspects of your new job make it interesting to you? How does it differ from your previous role?

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@cakehurstryan Your blog post has been incredibly helpful! I explored various testing-related topics in your blog and found it highly recommendable. Thank you for sharing!

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Hi @rasa234

Lots of good advice from others here so just a few things from me…

A good starting point might be to list out the parts of your role you like and dislike, what motivates you, and whether you want to go down a people manager role, or stay as an individual contributor. You then start to think of whether you want to specialise in certain test areas (ie accessibility which was mentioned by avenger12) or do something else, as career progression isnt always upwards, it can be sideways as well.
There are so many options within testing, but as you know you dont want to focus on automation, and if management isnt for you, then other options may be Product Manager or Business Analyst roles where you get closer to the product.

Opportunities may exist where you are, and I don’t know what your feelings are about leaving the company or whether you would rather stay. No-one can tell you what is best, thats your decision as you know the setup better than anyone else. Maybe you could take on some extra responsibilities as its a smaller team - it’s worth a chat with your line manager to see if that could work for you.

You made the decision to own your own career progression, so whatever you decide to do, good luck!

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@rasa234 sounds like you’ve already decided to move away from QA as a career - but I wonder without making too many assumptions about you personally, in your case would ‘change be as good as a rest’ - you’ve been committed to the same company, for a long time (absolutely commendable, by the way) - but you’ve also been on the same tech stack… so I wonder are you getting stimulated by your testing work anymore? Now you’re looking beyond testing when in fact, your wealth and years of knowledge might be just what another business needs in their QA team.

Depending on your location, my advice would be to have a look at what test specific meetups there are going on- get to know what companies are around, who are hiring, who’s doing something interesting, exciting, new. Here you’ll also be exposed to other testers, and you can gauge if the business you work for is doing testing well, or are they behind the curve or maybe they’re way ahead of the game…

It sounds like you need pushing out your 15 year comfort zone. Time to put yourself out there!

Wish you the best of luck.

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Ok here is my two cents,

Similar situation par from i’ve worked at multiple companies as both perm staff and contracting,

Current role is a hybrid of Snr.Tester/quality expert, mentor, Scrum master/team lead, Testing practice guild lead - with some product owner ship roles. Do some automation alongside the devs and advise on specific tools and practices, but they are allot speedier, being proficient programmers (literally their job lol)

about close to 13 years in software testing (sorry not a fan of the term QA lol)

Really depends what you mean by ‘Growth’ i’m guessing you would like to continue in the testing space but in a higher up role that makes more money?

looks like you are quite high up in the testing food chain as is - but don’t have much of a technical interest (like myself) this may hold you back allot if you do want to jump into a ‘Test Lead’ role, gone are the days of the old school test manager and his/her excel spreadsheet, those guys are usually Project managers.

Since you wear multiple hats, i find allot of the skills interlink and could go towards some other roles, with some extra studying under your belt.

  • Product owner or BA (not as many BA’s these days though)
    Product owner role would also open up more leadership opportunities and also develop skills that would be cross transferbile to a product manager role

  • Project manager as others have said

  • Learn to code - become a developer or if you really want to stay with automation but you don’t seem too keen with that

  • Become a scrum master

  • Become a Quality consultant - I feel this is where the role will eventually evolve into

If there is people in those role at your Org, ask to help or shadow them on some projects.

myself I am studying and working with UX designers at my company as i’m finding it a breathe of fresh air and works well with my creative personality.
Had my stint at testing learnt allot, met great people. time for a change

Cheers.

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