Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Skilled tester - do you know what it is?

Moved from my old blog, originally posted here.

Gil Bloom posted the following question on linkedin: "Skilled" tester - do you know what it is? Is there a definition or a way to define it? Apparently it is not that obvious. I was challenged during a discussion with a (known) expert to define or explain what is a "skilled" tester. According to him, most of us don't know how to do it and rely on certifications, which (to his view) are worthless. So, who is a "professional" or "skilled" tester? Is it to do with work experience? Academic knowledge? Certifications? Combination of them? Should we link it to a specific project/job and only then answer it? I thought to open it to an online discussion, seeing how interesting it was for those who participated so far offline.

It's in the 'Software Testing & Quality Assurance' group.

My comment following:
I don't quite agree with your expert that certification is worthless however I will say that being certified does not make you a tester, either skilled or unskilled. It just means you can memorise sections of a book. Certification should hopefully give you fuel to continue your own experience, development and learning to become a skilled or unskilled tester. Some people will continue down that path regardless of certification. Getting a driving licence doesn't mean you are automatically a good driver, doesn't mean you are bad either but for most people more time on the road will make them better. I think being a skilled tester comes down to natural ability, experience and a want/need to develop yourself. You have to be a questioner however you also have to ask the right questions, and so have to learn what questions need asking and when and also when the answers need questioning. And yes, some different projects/jobs require different skills, some will be transferable of course, it depends on the tester and the project/job. The skills should probably be defined though as different testers have different testing skills, technical skills and soft skills. This doesn't just count for testers though, it's the same for all jobs. Take two lawyers with the same education and similar experience will they be the same? Probably not, it'll come down to natural ability, what they've actually done with their experience and their own skillset. I think that defining what a (general) skilled tester is near impossible as there are too many variables stemming from what you actually need from the tester. That's a lot of writing, I haven't even had a coffee yet! Later I'll probably re-read what I wrote and decide to change it.

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