Any QA specialist thinking of making the move to developer will be well-advised to keep reading this. It’s a move that I made recently, and I certainly have no regrets. I joined Nmbrs at the beginning of 2018 and spent 18 months as a QA Engineer, which combined manual and automated testing, and development. The work appealed to me because it focused on making a quality product and made what – for me – was the all-important connection between how and why such a product is created.
Starting the process to change my career
This period coincided with an on-going transition process from manual to automated QA. Together with other QA Engineers, I had to create tooling and processes from scratch and provide the necessary training. It was an amazing experience, but once it was accomplished, I missed having a challenge in my work and I felt the time was right for a career change. Fortunately, I’m in a company where one has the freedom to explore many other opportunities and positions, and where learning and growth is supported.
The obvious move for me was a switch from QA to developer. There are clear similarities in the necessary skills, particularly on the automated side. It helped that we used the same programming language and tooling for QA and development, but even if you don’t, that doesn’t make the process impossible. The main difference between QA and development is the focus. As a QA, the focus is mainly on how the end-user perceives the application or module as a whole. And while developers also have to bear this in mind, they must think in much greater detail about specific components and how everything functions together.
Applying QA skills as a developer
My transition from QA to developer was relatively easy, but there are some barriers to overcome. As a QA you already have a deep understanding of the product and you are aware of the connections between modules. You already have a deep understanding of the mistakes that are made in development, and how processes work. This really eased and accelerated the onboarding process, to the extent that a colleague and I were fully productive developers after just a few weeks. I also had previous experience with Software Development, which, of course, helped a lot. Aside from that, there are some key skills that QA engineers and developers share.
Attention to detail
As a QA you must have a lot of attention to detail, so you soon learn to identify shortcomings in a developer’s work. If you then make the career change to developer yourself, you’ll instinctively know which pitfalls you need to avoid and how to avoid them if they are product or business-logic related.
For QAs and developers alike, creativity plays a key role. As a QA, creativity extends to dreaming up unlikely scenarios that the user might encounter with the application and testing how secure it is when used and misused in different ways. As a developer, creativity is even more important and you rely on it more frequently, since you are in control of building the actual solution. We do, of course, have to work within a framework of specifications, but we have the freedom to be innovative in the ways we use coding and tooling to tweak a product or module to improve its security, performance and maintainability.
Both roles require the ability to solve problems daily with an analytical mindset. The benefit of being a QA before moving into development is that you are user-oriented, and you can already build a product with the end-user in mind, which can sometimes be an afterthought for developers.
Go for it!
I am still passionate about QA and I can look back fondly at my time spent as one. But now I can look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await me as a developer. My advice then, for anyone who is thinking of making the tech career change from QA to developer, is: “go for it.”
Perhaps fittingly, the developer chapter in which I currently work is focusing on increasing the level of quality in the product. Perhaps, like me, if you have experience in QA that you could apply as a developer, you too might find yourself to be the right person, in the right place, at the right time!
This article was originally published on the Nmbrs blog.