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- 1 Post By JohnSchultz
Do one need to an Engineer only to be a QA / testing professional?
I have SAP functional background, handled testing before. I am planning to become a testing professional, take QA testing training and certificate. I have a question to all the experienced testing professionals in the forum, - do I need to be an Engineer or a Computer Science graduate to pursue a career in software testing? Or my ERP experience and a general MBA degree is okay?
Your opinion is solicited.
The short answer is No, you don't need to be an Engineer or CS graduate to be a software tester.
SAP is a tricky one - on the one hand, your SAP functional experience and an MBA is ideal. SAP is one of those things that requires a combination of SAP knowledge and general business acumen to be able to test properly. On the other hand, though, a massive proportion of the SAP testing market is made up of bodyshops and consultancies; an independent SAP test consultant usually has a number of years testing under their belt and increasingly holds SAP certification in the domain that they are testing.
Depending on what career route you want to go down, you could either look at SAP-specific certification (SD, MM, PP, FI/CO, etc) on top of any testing training, or you could look at entry-level positions in the likes of IBM, Accenture, Deloittes, SQS, Wipro, CapGemini, etc (or whoever the big players are in your market) using your SAP experience and MBA as leverage. As a long-term proposition being a part of a larger consultancy would give you the combination of support, training, and experience in multiple projects over several years, and you can make a decision as to whether or not to go independent once you have that under your belt. It doesn't pay as much as an independent consultant and they'll work you like a dog, and you'll have to put up with the internal politics, but you'll get to work on some fantastic projects and get a wide range of experience.
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I was curious about how you became interested in the testing side of SAP. I have worked with WinRunner and QTP on SAP projects and it was enjoyable because SAP seems to have worked closely with HP and probably other vendors to make the conversation between the products work well. The only object type that gave me a bit of trouble were the trees. I could not always get or set values on the branches.
I wish that I had a stronger background in SAP especially in the area of knowing about the Modules. MM was my favorite so far.
I'd like to hear more about how you got interested in testing.
I think a successful tester is more a mindset than a degree. I do have two engineering degrees myself, but one really good QA person I worked with in the past had a hotel and restaurant management degree and his previous work experience was retail management. Both of us worked ourselves up from the technical support department into QA, so we were a known quantity to the company to some degree. Another good tester I used to work with had no college degree at all, but the manager of our small office saw some potential in her and let her do some additional QA work on a part-time basis apart from her regular duties.
I think engineering certainly gives you a head start, but not the end all be all. If you can demonstrate you understand technical concepts and connect the dots, I think you can make it far in QA.
But there are certain things people just won't trust you unless you have an engineering degree and have taken the right classes. For example, higher positions in the QA automation where framework design and scalability become a factor. If you don't have a CS degree with software architecture and parallel programming, you're really going to have an easy time getting those positions.
I come from the days where they were pulling in secretaries and employees on improvement plans into QA and saw a lot of my peers fail at it. If you're disciplined, have an eye for detail, some technical ability, and most importantly, want to be there, then you'll be a valuable asset. If any of the previous is missing, you'll struggle. So keep that in mind for your transition.
If you're interested in moving into a QA role, you'll need the ability to build up your technical skillset. In my region, there is a lot of demand for QA people with experience in test automation, but hardly any for unskilled, manual testers. Recently, I was at a company where there were layoffs and the IT people who couldn't be trained for automation were affected the most by it. For many of them, it took months to find new positions. So moving in to QA as a manual tester will probably be a rough switch for anyone making that transition.
My advice would be to stay away from becoming strictly a QA Professional. Why? Because it feels like the role is going to eventually merge with development. The tools of the trade and software development processes are gradually evolving to favor this sort of thing. Managers will be interested in doing this because it'll reduce the cost of doing business by allowing them to reduce headcount, office space, licenses, etc. Probably the highest profile example of this is the Microsoft layoffs that were just announced last month. During an interview with the press, the CEO came out and said that some of the people losing their jobs were software testers because their functions can often times be performed more efficiently by the developers. Of course, most of them were probably from Nokia because that's what happens to the employees of the buyout - they get screwed. But to me, that was a huge shot across the bow for the SQA community, because the CEO of Microsoft basically came out and said "we're laying off testers because developers can do their jobs more efficiently". A lot of c-level people probably read that and are having similar thoughts, although my managers and people in Agile circles have been talking about this for years, so it wasn't a surprise to me.
Unfortunately, I see the overall quality of the product taking a hit disciplined QA people are not involved. But there's still room for quality in this equation. They always say that the earlier QA is involved in a project, the better. So with that in mind, why not build a business analyst with a QA skill-set? In my mind, there will be plenty of room for business analysts on projects because someone's gotta be familiar with the business and be able to tell the developers what to do. By instituting solid QA practices in requirements / user story design, you can still achieve high quality without having a dedicated QA person on the team. So if you're really interested in going in to QA, definitely learn the skills but also focus on the workings of your company and industry so that you know the business and can ease into a BA role.