I’m stuck! How to move forward in Software Testing career?

Recently our article “Manual Testing Is NOT Dead, But Manual Testers Are!” got major traction on social channels and triggered a debate in the Testing community. Some say “I have been doing Manual Testing since a decade now, and I am alive” while others approve of the title. Completely out of this particular debate, the original buccaneer tester James Bach states that “There is no such thing as test automation. What people call test automation is not automated testing, but rather testing performed with the aid of tools. I think if you want to be an excellent tester then you need to learn a lot about how to use tools (and maybe build tools) to get the job done.” Whatever be the debate (or discussion), Manual testers are finding it really tough to cut through the current jobs market. Want a proof? Try an experiment by analyzing the humongous response to a job opportunity posted for Manual Testers with 3-8 years of experience. How to move forward in Software Testing career?

Few days back we got a mail from a Manual tester,


I came across your article “Manual Testing Is NOT Dead, But Manual Testers Are!” today and felt I’m in the same boat as you or may be a little more troubled 🙁

I tried to look up for some automation tool and not sure which one is the best. Also just because you get to learn scripting it’s not easy to get job, you really need experience. Do you have any suggestions how to move forward in this career?

Thank you in advance for your time and help.


This mail triggered us to pen down our thoughts about this growing issue of building a long-lasting software testing career. We know the challenges, but the real question is “What’s the solution?” The first step to any solution is to analyse the problem. What’s your real problem? Getting stuck in a Software Testing career with no progress? Any idea why? Because industry changed faster than you. Yes, the expectations from a Software tester have changed. The organizations are no more willing to pay huge salaries just for Manual Tests. Let’s explore few solutions to this…

The straight-forward | Learn Automation

The straight-forward solution to move ahead your software testing career is to learn automation for survival. Yeah! Survival. Every other company is asking for hands-on experience on automation tools. ‘Automation’ is everywhere and whoever doesn’t accept the fact is sure to face a hard time in the near future. Testers say ‘Manual Testing can never be replaced’. That’s true. Who is saying Manual Testing is dead? It’s the role transition instead. Manual Testing is still valid but Testers without tools knowledge have been obsoleted. A tester is expected to just Test – either manually or via the aid of tools. Hence organizations are looking for candidates who are good at automation scripting since manual testing has a bad reputation of ‘anyone can test manually’. Start your automation journey, now!

But I don’t know coding

Is that your sloppy excuse to avoid automation? Cut the crap. Just say ‘I want growth but without learning how to code’ instead. Is there a way? I don’t think so, unless you move to managerial track in the same organization. We are all part of the technology industry, and the epicenter of all the innovation is ‘The code’. Start with learning either Java or Python (the two popular languages now-a-days). There are numerous online tutorials to help you learn & practice. Once you reach the basic level, start working on open-source automation tools like Selenium Webdriver or Appium.

Mind you, it’s a long-term commitment. Don’t expect quick results. Programming & Tool exposure will take some time, be ready for it. Many people start learning but get discouraged on the way. Don’t deter by looking at the job descriptions asking to build frameworks or automation experts. Self-motivation is the key to any successful career in any technology. Software Testing career is no different. It will take at least 6 months – 1 year to cover the years of sloppiness.

Join a coaching | Build a project

Remember the good old college days? Yeah! There is nothing shameful in asking an expert for advice/teaching. After all it’s about your Software Testing career. Do some research around you and look for a Testing training center. There are multiple coaching centers popping up now-a-days, so do your research diligently. Finalize on the course you want to join – like Java, Webdriver or Appium in that order. Make complete use of this coaching by learning, practicing in parallel and building some projects as well. Organizations don’t want people with ‘knowledge of automation’ but someone who has hands-on experience. This shall be the foundation to your job search now.

If you are thinking why should I learn automation or join a coaching when I already have 5+ years of experience – there is no age to learn. If you are reading this, you are already looking for help & guidance.

Specialization to secure Software Testing career

“Jack of all trades OR a master of one”

Where do you look for advice? Yeah! Expert or a Specialist in the particular problem area. Why do we have mentors in the start-up space? Why do we follow leaders? Leader, Expert, Specialist or a Mentor. Whatever you call him/her, will always be in demand. Know why? Exactly. Because they have mastered a particular skill over a period of time. Applying the same concept to Software Testing career, we do have leaders & QA evangelists whom people follow for guidance. They can be an automation expert, or a Test specialist, Performance expert, Security researcher, QA evangelist or an Agile leader. James Bach – proponent of exploratory testing and the context-driven school of software testing. Tarun Lalwani – HPE UFT automation expert who authored multiple books on the same subject. The list can go on & on.

Ever wondered why security researchers are valued more? Or an automation expert? If you are good at it, the world will know. The goal is to specialize in a particular Testing technology or a tool. Pick a particular testing field & start now – to excel in recent future.

Testing is not a ‘dying’ profession

There have been several debates for & against “Testing is a dying profession”. Either way, Testers today need a change. If it’s a dying profession then switch career tracks before company asks you to do so (that won’t be a happy picture). And even if it’s not a dying profession, it is changing at a rapid pace. With the advent of new roles like SDET, DevOps, Automation Experts, Performance engineers – the role of traditional testers is fading fast. Traditional testers are just like Tigers, if we can call so, though strong but still endangered. Some human right activists (QA evangelists) are trying their best to save the tigers (Traditional Testers) but you know how it works. The rules of the Jungle have changed – we now have multi-story buildings instead. Similarly with the technological advancements & changing business landscape, we the testers have to adapt according to the new demand.

Any software/product cannot be perfect the first time. Testing in that sense won’t die. As customers’ patience turn-around time reduces, Testing is much more important the first time itself. Customers today don’t give you a second change. Having said that, the role of Software Testers is in transition though – it’s a Jungle Raj – the survival of the fittest, i.e. who is adapting to the technology & market changes.

Note: Don’t worry Tigers will still be there, but only a few!

Change your track

If you still don’t want to work on any of the above, one option is to change tracks. They say ‘When the door to opportunity is locked, kick it down’. But kicking that strong is not easy though 😉 You must prepare. Choose a career track you are more inclined to, it can be business analyst or a project manager. Seek opportunities to change track from Technical testing to one of these. Read more about a particular domain, be a domain expert. Or get involved in project management activities to grow up the ladder. Any ways you will have to be ready when the opportunity knocks.

Magic begins outside of your comfort zone

You must have heard/read this in today’s start-up arena. It holds true for almost anything. We are happy & content in our comfort zone, i.e. stagnant. But we are striving & working hard when in trouble, i.e. growing. What do you think is better in terms of career growth? Yeah! Needless to say, move out of the comfort zone. Stop making excuses. Start today. The only person that can grow your career is ‘You’. Think about it!

Start working 6 to 9

Enough of Software Testing career talks. Most of us think of the short-term goals. Recently my father retired from his private job and I know exactly how it feels when you don’t have any government pension to sustain. We now understand the generation-gap debate regarding public-private sector jobs. This got us thinking – short-term career goals are fine, what about the third innings? When we are 50/60+ years old. Can we survive the IT ups & downs? Many youngsters don’t think that far – enjoy the present, why worry about the future. But let us tell you – when the future will be your present – it will already be too late. It’s not idiotic of the financial planners to talk/advice about retirement planning.

We know it’s too fearful a situation. But it is not that bad either 😛 The point we are trying to make here is – don’t just focus on the short-term goals. Plan for the future as well. A wise man once said – Work 9 to 6 for your career, and work 9 to 6 for yourself. Start thinking to build a passive income source. In these critical times, be ready for another 2008-like recession. Work the best, but plan for the worst. Build a passive income. Start-up. Invest wisely. Aim for financial freedom & you can attain financial stability at least 😉

Congratulations! You have taken the right first-step.

If you are reading this article till now, congratulations – you have already taken the right first step. To all those who mail us regarding the current testing situation or for job opportunities or queries regarding Software Testing career – a big thank you. All of us are serious about the problem, now let’s get serious about the solution as well. The industry is evolving and we have to adapt. The competition is growing and we have to up-skill. The opportunities are immense, we have to be ready. The IT is being crowded, we have to search for alternate income. The environment is right, we have to start-up. The professional life is getting stagnant, we have to be serious!

Huff! That was quite a thinking. And typing 🙂 if you are in the same situation, do let us know your inputs. And if you are not – do let us know how you managed not to 😉 if you are a leader or a mentor – people are in need of your valuable advice. If you are a tester who was just passing by this article – Happy Testing!

If you like our posts/articles/views on Software Testing – please subscribe to receive new posts directly in your inbox, for free. Got a suggestion or a feedback? We would love to know, please post it in the comments section below! Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a great Software Testing career ahead.


  • Software testing is a great industry. I typically do a lot of verification vs validation for software products. But, after a while I got bored. Now, as you suggested, I learned how to code and develop products myself! Thanks for the awesome reminders.

  • Hi,
    As metioned in above atricle i learned automation tool selenium.
    Now,I recruited as automation tester.I was forced to 100% manual.
    I am loosing my skills.I asked for automation project then manager are saying do automate current manual testcase.
    Then i decided to do that as well.but company ask me to work extra hours as i am doing automation.As i am billing as manual tester.

    At the end ,I couldn’t do full automation and manual as well.
    What should i do in this case?

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