Technical skills are a must for modern testers

In a previous post I already asked “where are the technically strong testers these days?“, in this post I would like to revisit that subject.

When looking at the current developments within IT the focus of testing is getting to be more and more on the business-logic and functionality rather than user-flows. More and more systems are delivered as API-based systems or service oriented architectures where the UI, or front-end, is only to a lesser extend important. UI’s can be put live into the world a lot easier, with béta testing, testing in production etc. Whereas the business-logic of an application, as well as the API’s are increasingly becoming more and more important, since that is where the actual value of most applications is.

traditional testingWhat does this mean for traditional testers? There already is a lot of talk about the changing role of testmanagers and coordinators in the future, what with Agile and things. But I believe the role of the ‘traditional functional tester’ will also lessen.

More and more testing will be pulled into the “technical” side of software, so into the services and API testing spheres, running functional tests through the API rather than through the user interface. This will result in testers, rather than being able to click their way through a user interface, will need to get used to working their ways through systems architectures and learn how to quickly and easily manipulate XML and other formats over a wide variety of protocols from one system to another. They will need to learn how to set up a full end to end chain and troubleshoot within this chain whenever an issue seems to appear.

Out of all the traditional functional testers I personally know, I am not sure what percentage will be able to make this transition, either due to lack of technical insight and understanding or to a simple lack of willingness to invest the time to learn some extra technical skills.

There are of course courses and trainings for testers to gain knowledge in the technical side of software testing, but whether that is enough.. I personally doubt it.
To be or become a good tester with technical knowledge and skills you will need to not only have an understanding of how systems are built up, but also a base understanding of programming. In order to gain these skills I believe more than formal training is required, you need to be willing to invest some extra time in it by home studying these concepts, practicing with them and keeping up with new technologies which might come your way sooner than you’d think.

12 thoughts on “Technical skills are a must for modern testers

  1. Agree wholeheartedly with this. So much so there’s nothing more I can say/add to the subject! I’ve written similar posts in the past, and I can’t believe how many testers just dont want to be technical, part of me thinks it’s a lack of confidence in their abilities, but I also think some of it is just down to laziness and that they’re not willing to put the effort in to learn something new.

    • Gareth, I’m fine with the testers who don’t want to be technical, there’s a need for both technical and less technical testers. I mainly send out a signal with this post that there is a growing need of string technical testers for all kinds of reasons.

      • I Agree with Martijn there is a need of strong technical testers as well as testers who are less technical.

  2. At the same time I see a rise in the importance of usability and user experience in the software industry. Making software that is intuitive and takes cognitive ergonomics into account will become more and more important since software plays such a big roll in everyday life for almost everyone.

    Testing through the API will only test the machine, not the interaction between man and machine.

    • Thanks for the nice link. I actually believe both myself and Frank to be right. They are complementary to each other rather than mutually exclusive.
      As i heard today at the closing keynote at automated testing days, we the testers either need to grow towards one of the two sides of the brain, to stick to Frank’s example.
      I believe there is a strong need for both, considering the nature of my work however I would love to see more on the left side brain though 🙂

  3. I had google translate the article. Interesting! One thing I think we can say for sure: Right hemisphere thinking will never be automated! 😉

  4. I agree. My thoughts exactly. Especially the part about investing in learning, by doing it, yourself. There are too many theorists out there.

  5. Martijn, I totally agree with you. I’m afraid that pure non-technical test consultants will have it difficult in the future to bring the added value a customer expects from them. You need to help and dig into the -often technical- details to support root cause analysis of defects.
    In the same context I see a tester evolving to a versatile consultant where he/she even work with a cross departmental mindset. This is especially true in the still unknown area of infrastructure testing where technical skills and/or basic network knowledge are a must. For more info, check my blog at http://blog

  6. Pingback: Five Blogs – 24 June 2013 | 5blogs

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