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How to start your career in software testing

Pretty much every week I get asked how to get started in software testing.

What follows is my collection of some of the many resources I tend to share with those asking.

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Some of these resources are directly related to the act or industry of software testing, some are not.

Feedback about this list is good but I know the list is by no means complete.

The reality is there are countless more resources out there for those new to testing.

The following represents my current thinking about good sources of inspiration, learning and advice for those new to testing. My thinking changes over time – please don’t hold me to this list. I may return to this list and edit it. I may not.

Sorry to anyone who felt left out from this list, but the nature of creating a short and useful list means that I will inevitably have left some great resources out. To include some things, I have to exclude others.

Feel free to add links to your own useful resources in the comments.

The order does not represent any importance or significance. It merely represents my brains order of thinking up these resources – make of that what you may.


I have also included many pieces of my own work. I have included my most popular work – according to what Google Analytics tells me anyway.

Push The Button

My own post on the many ways in which a button may be used, understood and tested.

A button is not just a button – it has a lot more meaning than that.

Vanguard Videos

Some videos from Vanguard, John Seddon’s company. They’re all worth a watch, but this one about PRINCE Project management is an all time favourite.

“Did you know PRINCE stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments…..have you ever worked in a controlled environment?”

Remaining Relevant

No list of mine would be complete with some shameless self-promotion of my very own book.

My book, Remaining Relevant, is now on Amazon, and although no longer specifically test related, it still contains the same advice on learning, writing a good CV and rocking an interview. It’s as relevant for testers as it is for advertising execs.


For those who are able to get to the UK then the UKTMF event is a pretty good one to get to. It’s usually a good laugh with interesting discussions. The informal, often heated discussions are great and the event is supported by people passionate about testing – does it get better than that for a mini conference? Oh, and it’s pretty affordable.

Python For Testers with Kris

I’ve not actually sat this course…yet…but Kris offers an interesting course in learning Python specifically aimed at testers. I know Kris well and his love for python and testing will no doubt come through in this course. He’s a man on a mission, and a savvy dresser too.

Attend EuroSTAR

If you get the chance then it’s worth getting to EuroSTAR. The last couple of years have had some very modern and interesting subjects discussed with good social events too. It’s expensive but there are ways to get there for free or cheap – keep your eye on the EuroSTAR feeds and you’ll find ways to volunteer and enter competitions to get to EuroSTAR.

Person Of Interest – Amy Phillips

If you ever want to meet someone who is incredibly motivated to make the testing community better, is working at a great company, is sharing her work with the wider community, is helping to organise the Pipeline conference (oh and the weekend testers) and is a good laugh to be around then Amy Phillips is that person.

Attend Agile Testing Days (ATD)

ATD is a great conference if you have the means to get to it. I haven’t been for the last couple of years but went to the first 4 years in a row and it’s a lot of fun. Great vibe, good talks, good atmosphere and brilliant social events. A real highlight.

Join Weekend Testing

The Weekend Testers are testing at the weekend. What better way to get stuck in to the world of testing when you’re new and meet other people in the industry than to volunteer some of your time at the weekend.

Read ExploreIT!

Great book by Elisabeth Hendrickson on Exploratory Testing. It’s compulsory reading for the test team here at NewVoiceMedia.

ExploreIt on Amazon

Join The Software Testing Club

Early in my testing career I was Creative Director at Software Testing Club and created some of my favourite content whilst working alongside Rosie and co. I’m no longer involved with the STC but the community, conference and content is epic. Test Bash is growing from strength the strength and is quickly becoming a highlight conference.

Person Of Interest – Adam Knight

Adam’s blog is a great place for inspiration and ideas about testing and how to apply testing in a growing company. Adam’s a great guy and brilliant manager who is working really hard to share his passion for testing with a wider audience.

Read The Blazingly Simple Guide To Web Testing

This is my own book and is a free PDF download containing lots of hints and tips for uncovering problems with websites and web apps. I’ll be removing this ebook soon as I have a replacement coming along – grab it whilst you can.

Person Of Interest – Michael Bolton

Michael has been a great inspiration for me and I’ve been lucky enough to meet Michael on many occasions. He’s interesting, passionate about testing and thankfully, writes about it a lot on his blog. I’ll never forget how he helped to calm my nerves at my very first major talk at Agile Testing Days – I’ll always be indebted to him for that single act alone, let alone the new ideas, thoughts and general good thinking he brings to the community.

Join a local meet-up

No matter where you are in the world the chances are there is a meet-up near you. If not – create one. There are testers everywhere. Getting them all together to talk about testing is a great way to learn more about how testing differs in different companies. The Meetup website is pretty good for listing local meets.

Read Testing Circus and Testing Trapeze

Great magazines put together by people in the community. Excellent resource for those looking to learn more about software testing.

Read Diary Of A Test Manager

Are you a test manager? Ever had a job like this one? I hope not…but I suspect you may have. For those new to testing please don’t be put off – not all companies are like this J

There are problems with software testing

My own book about the many problems we face as software testers. There are loads of problems with testing – but also lots of opportunity for growth, development and awesomeness. A comical look at some of the problems we face as a community.

Read “Perfect Software and Other Illusions about Testing”

An all-time classic book. Perfect Software and Other Illusions About Testing is a great walk through of some of the beliefs and ideas in our industry. It’s compulsory reading for the testers here at NewVoiceMedia.

Sit a Coursera course

There are loads of free courses on Coursera. Why not pick one and sit it. The majority of courses on Coursera will be useful in your work as a tester.

Person of Interest – Alan Richardson

Alan Richardson is the Evil Tester. He’s got a course on Udemy about Selenium and he’s also got a great blog (

Person of Interest – James Lyndsay

Seek out James Lyndsay and read about his work, ideas and training courses.

Free Cheat Sheets!!

Read, use and print out the Cheat Sheets by Elisabeth Hendrickson et al.

Try out Rapid Reporter

Use Rapid Reporter and see if it could become your tool of choice for Exploratory Testing.

Download Fiddler

Fiddler is a great tool for testers. Being able to test is great, but doing this testing with Fiddler will open up a whole new dimension of testing.

Install and use Firebug

Becoming good with Firebug will help you to understand a lot more about how web pages work and how you can start to see behind the screen. Great for those exploring how to do web testing.

Firebug is a browser extension and may not be available for all browsers, alternatives do exist.

Read the “Dark Side of Metrics’ by Doug Hoffman

Not all metrics are created equal.

Get your head around Linux and the tools that come with it

Linux is a great tool for testing. It’s free and it’s easy to get running on your own Virtual Box (again free). It’s also got some super tools with it.

This is a good course to sit:

Understand the OWASP Top Ten

Understanding the OWASP Top Ten security concerns is a good start for many testers.

Read More Agile Testing

More Agile Testing is a good book by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory. It’s got a lot of content to work through, lots of ideas and concepts and lots of inspiration for those working in agile teams.

Read Switch

Switch is a really good book for those people who find themselves needing to make changes within themselves or their teams i.e. everyone 🙂 Switch is a good book to read if you ever plan on trying to make a personal change.

Attend Nordic Testing Days

Nordic Testing Days was a standout event for me last year. It really was a great event with an awesome set of talks and a great vibe. I’m lucky enough to be a Keynote this year as well as running my fun tutorial on communication for testers. If you can’t attend then check out the hashtag #ntd2015 for updates.

Person of Interest – Dan Ashby

Dan’s a conference speaker and authority on mobile testing and all round great guy. Dan did a talk for our test team recently and this was a big hit.

Person of Interest – Stephen Janaway

Stephen is an inspiring speaker and thought leader in the community, especially within the mobile world. He’s also a good laugh and regular on the speaking circuit.

Person Of Interest – Huib Schoots

I first met Huib about 7 years ago at an Agile Testing Days conference and was blown away with how passionate and enthusiastic Huib is about testing. He also holds strong opinions and is helping to define a new way of testing. Self learning is key to Huib’s approach as you can see on his blog.

Speak at an event or conference

Speaking at a conference has many perks despite the terrifying nature of standing on stage and speaking to groups of people.

You get in to the conference for free. Yes free! Some conferences also pay for your flights.

You get to mingle with lots of interesting people.

You get feedback on your ideas and thoughts.

You get to travel the world.

If you’re speaking at conferences or wanting to get started then I would whole heartidly suggest you check out the Presentation Coach book by Graham Davies – it’s very very good.

Install a load of Firefox extensions

Firefox has a vast array of extensions and add-ons that can help you dig deeper when testing. Here is a chapter of my Web Testing book on my website with a list of browser extensions.

Person Of Interest – James Christie

James’ experience as an auditor and then as a tester shows in the way he approaches the world of testing. He’s got some great talks, great articles on his blog and he’s probably also the world’s tallest tester.

Person Of Interest – Rob Sabourin

I had the pleasure of getting stranded in Denmark after a EuroSTAR one year and was able to sit with Rob Sabourin in the cafe of the hotel. He’s a clever guy with a great outlook about the world of testing.

Read I Want You To Cheat

I loved this book. I took so many lessons from each page. I Want You To Cheat is not about testing – it is about doing the right thing for your customers. This book is compulsory reading for the testers and scrum masters here at NewVoiceMedia.

Person of Interest – Alex Schladebeck

Alex is a well-known conference speaker and she’s also incredibly passionate about software testing. She’s a great laugh at conferences and is doing some amazing work in the Eclipse eco system.

Read Specification By Example

Spec by example is a good book about the world of BDD and writing example tests to demonstrate the functionality and feature. Good book indeed if you’re trying to implement an acceptance test driven approach to your work.

Person Of Interest – David Evans

I’ve known David for many years now and we only really see each other at conferences but it’s always a good laugh. He’s talented and knowledgeable about testing and one of the coolest guys in the testing world.

Person Of Interest – Julian Harty

Julian is well known in the testing world and he’s done some great work, especially in the mobile space. He shares this work liberally and is definitely worth seeking out.

Person Of Interest – Bob Galen

I first saw Bob Galen at a EuroSTAR many years back. It was a cracking Keynote where he had the whole room stood up and talking to each other. Worth checking him out.


Check out Evernote. Lots of testers are now turning to Evernote as a place to store charters, notes, data and much more. Evernote is a great tool for storing pretty much anything you want. It’s on every device and the growing number of integration tools means you can pretty much hack together any system you want.

If you’re liking Evernote then Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials is epically good (aff link)

Read What everybody is saying

If you’re interested in developing your super sonic skills when it comes to working with others, understanding a deeper level of communication and general being able to bring about epic change then its worth delving deeper in to non-verbal communication.

I’ve studied non-verbal comms since my college days and the most accessible book I’d recommend is “What Everybody Is Saying”. It’s a cracker and has some really practical tips on reading people’s body language.

Of course, be careful about what you conclude from somebody’s body language. The author, Joe Nevarra does a good job of explaining how these non-verbal tells may be important, but also sometimes misleading. Good introduction to non-verbal comms.

Person Of Interest – James Bach

James’ has been a leading figure in the testing world and has brought to the industry a number of important concepts.

Person Of Interest – Matt Archer

I first met Matt at EuroSTAR in Amsterdam and we got on really well. He’s got some great ideas on testing and delivers these ideas with passion and enthusiasm.

Person Of Interest – Cem Kaner

Cem Kaner has been a huge inspiration to me in my career and his writing is helping many people I know in the community grow their thinking.

Person Of Interest – Tony Bruce

I’ve known Tony Bruce for many years now and it’s always a good laugh catching up with Tony. If ever there was someone who looked at the value people can add to the community above all else it’s Tony. He does so much for the community and he’s passionate about helping spread the word about good testing.

Person Of Interest – Steve Green

You don’t often hear too much about Steve Green but he’s doing some great work in the community and his company, Test Partners, are doing some great work especially in the field of accessibility – a topic close to my own heart.

Test Bloggers

Check out this monster list of bloggers on Software Testing Club and follow some of them.

It’s not a definitive list – so be sure to also keep your eyes peeled for other sources of good blogs.

Join The Conversation On Twitter

Sign up to Twitter and follow the #softwaretesting hashtag, then meander through people and their followers – something cool will turn up


And there you have it. A list of useful resources on how to get started in software testing.

It’s not exhaustive and by no means complete, but a list for those who may find themselves new to testing, or looking to expand their world of testing.

As usual – feel free to leave your suggestions for other resources in the comments.

11 thoughts on “How to start your career in software testing

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for commenting David. Thanks for the kind words.

      Fixed the Testing Circus issue.

      Thanks for listing Lynn’s resources also – indeed very good.


    1. Yep – and that’s why Black Ops Testing is a great initiative 🙂

      Thanks Tony.

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