First of all, you should ask yourself: Why Software Testing? It's not a good idea to think about Quality Assurance as an easy route or backdoor entry into the IT industry. QA is as good a field as any other. In this article, you will find advice that hopefully will bring you closer to getting your dream job.
Start from the bottom
Do research. Check the job offers in your area. Online job portals or forums could be a great help, too. Look for the responsibilities and qualifications to find out which skills and technologies are desired. Prepare a list of things that employers are looking for. This will be your list of things to learn.
Don't forget to read about the work culture. Check if you're a software house or corporation kind of person. Various work environments suit different people and require specific characteristics. It's important to find a place that will match your expectations.
Staying up to date with the latest technological trends is also a must to develop your QA career. Check for novelties frequently. Ask yourself if you know what's changed in the new iOS? Which Android version is the latest?
Be curious. Turn developers' settings on your phone and see what information and possibilities those give you. Check how to open the developer console in your browser. Try to find some bugs or improvements in the apps that you're using. If you want to check the most common bugs on mobile apps, you can read this article on our blog.
What skills do I need to learn to start as a Software Tester?
No matter if you want to become a manual tester, automatic tester, specialize in mobile applications, or you don't know yet which area will be the best for you, there are some things that you need to know, and here's a list of them:
A great source of basic knowledge and information about software testing is ISTQB Foundation Level Syllabus. It's content to get familiar with before the International Software Testing Qualification. Still, it's available for free on the Internet, so you can learn from it even if you're not going to take an exam.
It is a design system created by Google. You can find here UI/UX patterns, which can help you to spot imperfections or flaws. Apple has its own guidelines, so it's good to know both if you want to be a mobile tester.
It is used to build blocks for creating a user interface. I'm sure you noticed repetitive elements in your favorite apps, like similar-looking lists or menus. Check how they are called here. This knowledge can help you with communication and understanding in everyday work.
Manual testing concepts
You should train how to create test cases and how to test apps manually. You can choose your favorite app or website and try to cover each path.
The iterative approach to project management is very popular in IT companies, so it would be beneficial to learn some basics. It would be best if you also understood the difference between agile and waterfall development models.
Soft skills can be as important as technical skills for Quality Assurance Specialists.
The vast majority of IT companies work with foreign clients and teams, so you have to be ready for meetings and documentation held in English.
It is an excellent way to show your future recruiters that you take it seriously. It means that you've already invested some time, effort, and money to get the basics, and you have the knowledge needed for the junior position. You have to be aware that being certified doesn't automatically guarantee getting a job, but this could make your QA entry smoother. The most popular certificate for testers is ISTQB. You can read more about this exam here.
Take a course
Don't let the lack of experience bring you down. If you feel you can't make it on your own, take a course. Search the Internet for courses that are available right now (stationary or remote). Check course plans and opinions. The courses aren't the cheapest, but you can be sure that qualified trainers will provide you with the appropriate knowledge in less time than during self-study at home. Classes won't compensate for the lack of a non-computer science background, but they can help you learn more effectively.
Can my non-IT experience be useful?
It depends. Working in IT is not just about hard skills. More and more employers pay attention to your soft skills. If you have no professional experience, try highlighting your strengths in different areas. Make your resume/CV skill-based and not experience-based. Think about what you'd pay attention to as a recruiter. Are you good at English? Do you know other languages? Or maybe you're a good trader and a company you want to work for makes applications related to stock exchange? As a future QA specialist, you should also be interested in technology. Add a note about yourself. Taking a job is always about a win-win rule.
Apply for the jobs when you're ready
But don't wait too long! You're not able to learn everything at home. It's crucial to build foundations, but nothing beats real hands-on experience. When you start your first job, your knowledge begins to grow exponentially. You can start with an internship, a part-time job, or even work for a month as a volunteer. You'll gain valuable experience without paying for courses and certificates. Your soft skills and basic knowledge can compensate for the lack of experience in the beginning.
How long would it take to find a job?
It's the worst part for people looking for the first job or trying to enter a new industry. You can't get hired without experience, but you also can't get experience without getting hired.
Here, I have news for you. As usual, in such cases, good and bad one. The good one is that we all have started once, and the great majority of us have succeeded. Why would you fail? The bad news is that it might not come right away. It could take a while to find a dream job. It is hard to say how long it will take - weeks, months, a year? It all depends on how much effort you put in your preparation, but it's not an IT exclusive thing. I guess we all agree that reading one book won't be enough if you want to become an accountant. It takes a lot of time, failures, patience, and learning, but trust me. It's all worth that.
If you have read the above article, you already know how to make your first steps, but I still have one more (maybe the most important) piece of advice. Never give up! Really. It may not be easy to start a career in the IT industry, especially if you have no educational background or work experience, but it's still possible. As the most popular Walt Disney quote says, "If you can dream it, you can do it."
Good luck! We keep our fingers crossed ;)