What Does Your Career Timeline Look Like?

It took me a while to find a career fit that worked for me. I’ve often talked about how I haven’t climbed the career ladder, I’ve jumped from one ladder to the next :grin:

To the question then in the title, my career timeline looks like this:

  • 1 year and 1 day as a mathematical planner, about 6 of which involved software development (the 1 day bit is very important, it reduced the amount of training fees I’d to pay back because I was more than a year with the company!)
  • 1 year 4 months as a developer with company 2
  • 1 year 10 months as a tester with company 2
  • 2.5 months as a tester with company 3

What does your career timeline look like?


For me its been:

  • 7 years in a bank, Summer student (3mths) > Customer Service Assistant (4yrs) > Analyst (3yrs)( Included finishing my BSc & going part time for a Postgrad in IT while a CSA)
  • 11 years Financial Services/Government, System Tester > Senior System tester
  • 2 years Public Services Broadcaster , Senior Tester.

13 Years in Banking - 4 Years in Call Centre, 5 Years as Advisor, 4 Years as a Manager
18 Months with Banking company as UAT Tester
1 Year as Tester with Company 1
1 Year and counting as Tester/Automation Tester with Company 2


I have a degree in Games Design, which helped me land my first job as a tester after graduating. I have since left the games industry and will never return.

  • 2 Years “QA Engineer” (wildly inaccurate job title, I was a games tester) at a small game studio, part of a team of 5
  • 2 Years as a “QA Manager” in the same company, managing the same team, and 1 of those was also spent doing game design/content creation for the company’s newsletter
  • 2 Years as a “Web Tester” for an agency, singular tester
  • 1.5 years “Test Analyst” for another web agency, doing Principal Tester stuff but being paid mid-weight salary :angry:
  • Currently at 6 months as “Software Tester” for an in-house company, setting up testing in a company that has never had any official testing

I’ve been underpaid and under-utilised my entire career, and only now am I fighting for more as I’ve gained the courage to ask for what I’m worth.


I started with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

  • 3 years in a product research & development the heavy construction industry
  • 11 years in new product development/3 years in product testing and verification in the medical instrument industry (earned an MBA and learned how to develop software during this time)
  • 8 years in IT as a developer/12 years as a Test Engineer/1 month as a Data Analyst in the insurance industry

Ooh, fun…

  • 4 months as a field geologists, ended when a hurricane wiped out the company’s equipment
  • 1 year trying to get work
  • 1 year taking a teaching certificate
  • 6 months trying to get work as a teacher
  • 1 year working as a teacher, ended with a nervous breakdown (got to love abusive employers)
  • 5 years recovering, trying to find other work, etc.
  • 3 years taking the software engineering degree
  • Another 6 months trying to get work, with a few short term gigs scattered through
  • 6 months as a junior developer, ended when the company went bankrupt
  • 8 months contract work as a junior developer, ended when I moved to the USA
  • 18 months trying to find work
  • 6 months work as a developer/tester/network admin/anything else the tiny company could get me to do. Ended with the combination of another breakdown (yay abusive employers) and a better job in another state.
  • 7.5 years as a tester for a company that did admissions and ticketing management for anything that charges admission. Ended when they had a bad year and laid off a bunch of people. Job title went from QA 2 to QA 3
  • 4 months looking for work
  • 7.5 years as a tester for a company that reinvented itself multiple times while I was there:
    • 1 year as a small payroll management company (I was the one and only tester)
    • 5 years as medium sized payroll management + online payments company (I was the only tester in the payroll side)
    • the last 1.5 years and continuing after being bought by a megacorporation so now it’s a (by comparison) teeny-tiny payroll division in a massive payments/ATM company. And I’m still the only tester in the payroll group.

There is a reason I joke about having the Midas touch in reverse when it comes to careers. The last two jobs, I’ve breathed a sigh of relief when the 1 year mark passed without issues, and only started to relax a bit after 2 years.


You may have me beat there Kate.

  • After dropping out of collect for electrical engineering because of burn-out…
  • 7 years in the US Navy as electrical technician
  • 6 months repairing stereo equipment
  • 2 years retail management
    (Moving to the Netherlands)
  • 9 months working “low skilled” labor while I learned dutch
  • 1 year electronics manufacturing
  • 2 years doing the same in another company where the project was cancelled
  • returning to school to finish the degree I burned out of before
  • 1 year circuit design before the company went out of business
  • 2 years “QA” engineer (hardware + software) before the company went out of business
  • 4 years as a tester (first “official” test job) before the company cut the department
  • 1 year “QA” engineer (same type of work as previous) before I missed testing too much and went back to …
  • 1 year contract for 1 project as tester
  • 2 years as IoT tester
    And now… Been here for 1 month.

My career in tech has been a bit short so far, but hopefully will be a long one, unless I get bored and decide to do something else xD I do miss jobs with physical activities like digging ditches, gardening, crafting, cooking though.

  • A million summers working in cafes/pubs/restaurants
  • One summer creating and teaching a university-level ‘taster’ physical geography course
  • 2 years as an Iron Age warrior in a hill fort, teaching kids how to grind flour, bake bread, be warriors, make wattle&daub walls, weave baskets, make string/rope out of nettles etc etc
  • 6 months carer in children’s care homes, until I got assaulted by another staff member
  • 9 months juggling multiple 0h jobs at once: running children’s science workshops/parties; hotel breakfast assistant; overnight shifts at a fuel station; agency jobs
  • 9 months as an Operations Manager (non-IT)
  • 2 years as a QA
  • 5 months as an SDET

Career = an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.
I will refer to my IT career.

  • 3 years Home Computer programming classes
  • 4 years High School Computer programming and Mathematics/Physics classes
  • 3 years University Computer Science
  • 2 years University Masters Software Systems Engineering
  • During University studies I also spent some of my free time doing some Product Analysis, Software Packaging Management internship, Beta Testing, Product Reviews, Bug and optimization hunting
  • 3 years Software Testing Engineer for Cybersecurity and antivirus software;
  • 3 years Software Tester for a b2b2c marketplace(after changing the country);
  • 6 months looking for a job after changing again the country;
  • 3.5 years Software Testing Specialist(Consultant) - systems for private flights and tour/flight operators;

Kudos for the Iron age warrior role!


I was thinking about this the other day, when a friend on Facebook commented on people whose careers were branded a ‘failure’ by family and peers, but who turned out rather well in the end. So for me:

  • 5 years weekend/holiday working in a library
  • 3 years degree course in Librarianship
  • 10 months actual work as a librarian on a multi-media collection cataloguing project
  • Seven months as a wages clerk in a furniture factory
  • 30 years in the UK Civil Service:
    • Five years in a front-line social security office
    • Five years in a regional centre working on industrial injuries benefits (dealing with
      medical reports, casework and appeals)
    • 20 years working for the UK water industry economic regulator
      • Five years working direct to the CEO on research and Board support, mixed 50/50 with:
      • Working in the Press Office, on publications, press notices, responding to journalists, dealing with public enquiries, hosting high-level overseas visitors, organising press conferences and seminars.
      • 15 years in Quality Assurance, which consisted of:
        • Two years working on data quality issues, working with external civil engineering consultants, which segued into:
        • Defining data collection requirements, then designing a data capture system on paper, and then testing it as it was translated into an IT application; managing the issue and return of the IT application, then acting as data wrangler and query manager for the rest of the year whilst the data return was picked over by analysts.
      • At the same time as the work for the water regulator, I also acted as senior Departmental-level trade union representative, handling negotiations, personal cases, liaising with peers in other Government departments and serving on national-level union management and advisory committees.
  • Two years out to write a book, win some photography awards, publish a number of
    magazine articles.
  • Two years’ test contracting for five different companies (contracts ranging from 10 days to six months).
  • Two years as test analyst with company A, doing mainly traditional test scripting and
    execution, but with elements of exploratory testing breaking in, plus a lot of work in year 2 on requirements gathering.
  • Four years (to date) with company B, doing increasingly much more modern exploratory testing.

So, this is what happened right after high school:

  • 3 years actively studying Business Administration (not my thing)

  • 3 years taking some clases while working on a retail store

  • 1 year of only working at the same retail store

  • 1.5 years working as a tester in Company A

  • 4.5 years working as a QA Lead for Company A


Some really interesting replies here!

My non-linkedin jobs included:-
Bar staff, worked in a music shop, frozen fish factory worker (a rite of passage if you want to get out of Grimsby!), dinner lady, various admin jobs and a few summers at the Crown Prosecution Service.

I’ve done nothing but testing since 2008.

Company 1 - 6 years as tester / test lead / test manager at a consultancy mostly for enormous FX and Commodities clients
Company 2 - 4 years contracting as a test lead for a financial organisation, IoT crowdfunded startup (which was bought out 1 month after I started) and a company that did training courses
Company 3 - 2 years as senior test lead at a safety tech company.

1 Like

QA journey:

  • 2 years QAing drinks pouring / barman
  • 3 years QA Analyst in Real Estate software
  • 2.5 years QA Engineer then Senior QA Engineer in Gaming industry
  • Currently 2.5 years Senior QA Engineer in App Parking industry

2 years as a Helpdesk support engineer.
1 year as a tier II/ III technical support engineer.
3 months as a qa tester learning how to test
1 year as a jr QA engineer with Samsung
2 years - 1 year as a QA engineer and 1 year as a senior QA engineer / release coordinator at 1stdibs
2 years as a lead QA engineer / Release Manager for Workframe

Before all this experience

  • 1 week at the Department of Post and Telecommunications (quit that in tears)
  • 20 months of military service (most dangerous job was operating a 100W radio with 30 meter mast and climbing it)
  • a few months of nightshift as a tow truck company telephonist/radio operator
  • 2 years Wiring computer networks
  • 14 years writing code for industrial control HMI/SCADA - kids came along, so decided to move
  • 1 year testing for mobile company
  • 2 years testing for another embedded system, doing wireless and wired audio
  • 7 years testing remote desktops and virtualization environments
  • 6 months contract testing
  • 1 year embedded testing again
  • 1 year once again remote desktops

I’m approaching the mark where career years as a tester > career years as a non-tester about now.


@katepaulk - Kudos & fist bumps to you! Your timeline gave me hope and I am sure that it will give others hope as well.

@heather_reid - Nice post. I wish there was a follow up - What was the turning point in your QA career ? What helped you to make the turning point ? (ex. MOT membership :wink: , Inspiring friend, Mentor, Programming classes etc.). Of course, without getting into personal details.

Those are all really good questions, and worthy of conversations of their own.

So lets see what we can do about this…

I’ve had a few ups and downs. I don’t think many would have moved from Director to admin assistant :rofl:

Farm assistant (age 12)
Milk and Paper rounds
Cellar-boy (age 13 after cricket)
Chrome plating operator
Warehouse operative
Warehouse manager
Driver (up to 18 tonnes)
Despatch supervisor
Logistics manager
Internal Auditor
QHSE Director (Quality, Health and Safety and Environment under BS9000-2000)
Admin assistant
Team Leader
Software Tester (so it begins)
Test Lead
Site Lead Tester
Quality Assurance Lead
Audit Support Manager
Senior Tester and Accessibility Advocate (missed testing too much)
Test Engineer and Accessibility Advocate / SME (current role)

For clarity, each title was a different role, many within the same company.