Why Are You a Tester?

I am always curious as to what drives people – what their motivation is – especially when it comes to other testers.

I know why I am a tester. My driving force is my curiosity and the need to learn and gain experience. I want to know how things work, and preferably also why. That is why I went to graduate school and got a Ph.D. in physics, and it is also why I am a tester. To me testing is a quest for information: I test to learn about a product and everything that surrounds it.

As much as I love science and research, I decided that I did not want an academic career, and did what many other physicists do: I took a job as a developer. At least programming was something I knew how to do, while the demand for experimental astro-particle physicists outside of the academic world is…somewhat limited. By coincidence, I was asked to pitch in and help the test team, and I was immediately hooked: I had found a research substitute! As a tester I am able to take full advantage of my curiosity, attention to detail, observational skills, logical thinking and ability to analyse and draw conclusions. Software testing is something I am very passionate about, something that occupies my mind constantly, and something I am so enthusiastic about that I do not really consider it “work”. I have found my true vocation.

But what about other testers? What brought them into software testing?

Asking around, a common answer seems to be “curiosity”; the need to find out how things do – or do not – work. Not surprisingly, it seems as if testers have a tendency to want things to work, and they get more annoyed than the general public when software they encounter fails. Maybe being a tester is a way to make the world function a little bit better and bother us a little bit less. There is of course also the thrill of the hunt and the excitement when you catch your prey, even if it is just a bug.

Quite a few testers start out as developers and then – like me – make the transfer, after finding that testing is more interesting and fulfilling. Why is it then that software tester is still rarely presented as a viable career path, comparable to software developer? I find it interesting – and important – to ask testers that I encounter why they are testers. Not everyone starts out as engaged and enthusiastic testers, and some might need a little bit of encouragement and coaching to realise how much fun it actually is.

Take the time to think about why you are a tester, and you might learn something new about yourself – and others.

About Christin Wiedemann

Christin Wiedemann (@c_wiedemann) is the Co-CEO and Chief Scientist of PQA Testing. After finishing her PhD in Physics at Stockholm University, Christin Wiedemann started working as a software developer for the Swedish consulting company HiQ. Christin soon discovered that software testing was more interesting and challenging than development and subsequently joined the Swedish test company AddQ Consulting. At AddQ, she worked as a tester, test lead and trainer, giving courses on agile testing, test design and exploratory testing throughout Europe. Christin developed a course on exploratory testing, and is a co-creator of the exploratory testing approach xBTM. Christin currently lives in Vancouver, where she joined Professional Quality Assurance (PQA) Ltd. in 2011. In her current role as Chief Scientist, she drives PQA’s research and method development work. She continues to use her scientific background and pedagogic abilities to develop her own skills and those of others. LinkedIn Profile
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