Along with the development of information technologies, the situation regarding the candidates' requirements for a particular specialty is constantly changing. This includes the software testing industry. For instance, 10-15 years ago, it was enough to have some knowledge of software testing theory, or just a general understanding of it, to get a job, however, 7-5 years ago, there was already a preference for candidates with a solid knowledge of the theory. Today, a general understanding of theory can be tested through the prism of technical skills. There are more and more practical tasks provided to check the future tester's ability to think analytically and be technically proficient. Following the tendency of growing requirements for a QA specialist, more and more often the question arises whether a tester needs to learn programming.
Do testers need to learn programming?
Do testers need to learn programming?
- Posted by: Admin
To answer this question, let's look at 2 scenarios: a tester without knowledge of programming basics and an automated tester.
In the first case, it's usually a beginner tester who probably has no field experience. Yes, it is a myth that you can only get into the IT field through knowledge of programming languages. To start from scratch, one does not have to learn programming first, it is enough to learn the basics of software testing and be able to apply them in practice, while successfully combining analytical and creative skills. Also, the first category includes testers who are comfortable with the work routine and many other factors that influence the answer about the need to learn programming. We will discuss this in more detail below.
If a tester decides to choose manual testing, the following will be enough:
- clarifying the requirements with the product owners;
- understanding the logic of the tested product;
- communication with the team;
- manual testing process.
You can focus your attention on improving manual testing skills for a long time, perfecting the ability to use various test design techniques. However, sooner or later, you will reach a turning point when, in addition to basic knowledge of the basics of testing, several factors make a tester start switching to automated testing.
Some of the factors that influence the decision to study programming or not include:
- the value of the employee in the company/project;
- payment for work performed;
- routine, causing professional burnout;
- prestige and competitiveness among similar specialists;
- self-development as the main progress indicator.
If a tester is focused on at least one of the above factors, it signals that there is a need to learn programming. This is a solution to the problems that arise from these factors - preventing burnout, reducing the time to complete work, increasing the value of a specialist, etc. Testers with programming knowledge can understand the architecture and workflow without knowing the interface of the tested product, which is a significant advantage. In addition, automated testing greatly broadens the tester's prospects. Of course, you can't expect a tester to write powerful program code like a developer, but simply the fact that such a specialist has more knowledge than a manual tester already makes them more valuable to a potential employer and customer. Learning programming allows you to determine which career path to take in the future and helps you assess your development prospects.
One can see a tendency among companies to increase the demand for testers who could be hired to join the development team, and thus increase the efficiency of both testing and development. In these cases, there is usually a demand for technical skills such as programming and automation. Practice shows that testers often hesitate or try to resist learning programming. Therefore, new skills only increase your skills and make you a better and more valuable tester.
The process of learning programming can be compared to sports, based on the fact that you cannot be a good long-distance runner and a sprinter simultaneously. Not because these are different activities, but because to succeed in one of them, you should make maximum efforts, focusing on a specific one. Also, it is important to pay attention to the ratio of strengths and weaknesses.
Still, it's worth noting that you don't have to dive into programming all at once. You can combine these two areas, as it is not always possible to apply either solely manual or automated testing. Learn more about the advantages and ways of applying manual and automated testing in our article Manual Testing vs Automation.
As a conclusion, the final answer to the question «whether a tester needs programming or not» is something that everyone can decide for themselves individually, depending on certain factors. One thing is certain: expanding your experience and practicing new skills will only be an advantage in a tester's career.