Two weeks ago I passed my motorcycle driving exam. I’m now illegible to drive a (high cc) motorcycle. It wasn’t my first (driving) exam. In Holland you first have to pass a skills exam and theory exam before you can have your final exam.
I was thinking, how does this align with testing? You could see this as getting my license is like getting certification, but I disagree. I now have my driver’s license and I’m allowed to drive. The more kilometres I drive the more experienced I get and hopefully, even better. But with certification you are already allowed to test (it’s your work/assignment) and you think you are better than before you got certified. That’s complete bullshit!
“Certification doesn’t get you more skilled in testing”
Let me start by saying I’m not against certification, but against the thinking that if you’re certified that you are a good tester or that companies only hire certified testers (read this post by Andréas to read why). No, you have a better knowledge of testing. You are not more skilled. You have to earn that! And when you get more testing kilometres and learn ‘hands on’ from some more experienced testers you get more skilled.
But you have to update the knowledge and skills you have mastered in your career. When we hire testers we make sure they are intelligent enough, teach them the basic testing knowledge and let them perform some exercises. And then we send them into the big, bad world. For a starting point it’s not bad. As long as you let them be taught by experienced people with vast enough knowledge.
“We only use DCT”
New testers will user this knowledge in their first assignment as best as they can do and (hopefully) learn from others around them. But after a few years and a bunch of different assignments they forget what they have learned. In Holland for instance we do a lot of checking during our testing. We learn a lot of test design techniques which we should put to use. But we tend to forget them. Why? Because we only use PCT or DCT. But is that enough? Sometimes “yes”, but most of the time “no”! And by the time we are promoted to a testing coordinator we only let our projects be checked with PCT or DCT. And what happens? The testing quality goed downhill, because the test coverage is not good enough.
I think we should keep up our knowledge and skills we’ve learned in the past, our basic toolkit. Before we get a promotion we should show we still have the basic skills and learned a few more. That way we continuously challenge ourselves to think more in terms of the best way, instead of the normal way.
In my opinion this is the same with a driver’s license. People tend to drive their way but don’t learn new rules and when they get older some people are still allowed to drive even if they are an accident waiting to happen. We should also update their knowledge and skills sometimes…
So update your testing skills once in a while. Get better at what you do and learn from others.