Testers: We are more than our job title

The impact of the job title held by those who perform software testing is not a new concept, and is likely one that will never go away, however it got me thinking about it and I wanted to talk about it today.

First of all, have a look at the presentation by Del Dewer from TestBash Brighton, where he talked about his views, including how when he went from being a test lead to a test analyst and a recruitment agent challenged him on this.

The big thing for me with our job titles are what expectations do people have as a result of it, from myself and from others.
Where I work, my title has changed from System Test Analyst to Test Engineer, yet my day-to-day activities haven’t changed. I will still write test scripts, execute said scripts, analyse requirement documents, and have peers asking me questions back. For me, I feel strange having the title Test Engineer when I have no engineering background.
To take this further, we have introduced a new role and renamed another, with QA Test Engineer to next in line, finishing with Senior QA Test Engineer. The use of QA is one that has caused much discussion online (I won’t point to any in particular, Google will find you plenty), but does that mean that I don’t/can’t perform QA?

Elsewhere, Dan Billing made the following post on Twitter:

If a Test Lead needs no leadership skills, then what makes them a lead? Is it simply that they have to use a title that seems higher and worth more to get the person they need?

When I searched LinkedIn for jobs and put in the word “test”, this is what I got back:

With so many titles out there, how is anyone meant to make sense of them? What makes a Test Engineer different from a Testing Engineer or Test Analyst? When looking for a job, how broad a title do we look for?

So, what can we do about this?

The biggest thing for me is to not let titles define us. I’ve even changed my title on work e-mails and LinkedIn to be Test Evangelist. It’s no Performacologist (see Mark Tomlinson), and it won’t appear as a search title on LinkedIn or any job advert. But for me, it’s an expression of what I want to do. If you are happy and passionate about what you do, and know why you do it, define your own role. Then, if you ever decide to change where you do it, you can explain what you did, not have them see Test Analyst and make assumptions on what you can and can’t do.

Finally, on a different topic, I’ve been accepted to talk at Midlands Testers Meetup in May! I’ll be talking about the Testing Social Network, and hopefully getting it recorded and shared on here.


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