The basement is much crowded, but there is plenty of room up-stairs

The other day someone sent me an email asking me how to stand out from the masses in the Testing world. I responded by suggesting they engage in the community, join groups that interest them, read about any other subject that interests them but isn’t directly considered a Testing information source and to start learning and practicing Testing.


Image courtesy of :

There was some quote or reference that was nagging me though which I felt would sum up this delima.

The following popped in to my head this morning at around 4am..I believe this was the quote I was searching for. It was from P.T.Barnum in his book “Art of Money Getting Or, Golden Rules for Making Money” which I think sums up a commonly held view about Testing. It is a conversation between two people.

“I have not yet decided which profession I will follow. Is your profession full?”

“The basement is much crowded, but there is plenty of room up-stairs,” was the witty and truthful reply.

As more people flood in to this industry we are seeing a devaluing of our role and are a-wash with testers, many of which appear to all have the same skillset.

I know there will always be a market for interchangeable test “resource” but believe me, many people I speak to are having serious problems recruiting good testers.

It’s not from a shortage of applicants, but more from a shortage of talent.

So as we see the “basement” being filled with even more testers, with an even more bewildering set of certifications and best practices I can’t help but wonder what people will start to do to differentiate themselves from the masses in the future.

Do you think our profession is getting full?

Do you think there is a lack of talent or are companies becoming more specific?

Do you think it’s a lack of talent, or an unwillingness to be open minded about Testing?

Do you agree that there is a shortage of excellent testers? (I know this is subjective)

How do you think Testers could start to make a difference to their skillsets?

One thought on “The basement is much crowded, but there is plenty of room up-stairs

  1. Greetings, just catching up on some old RSS feeds so forgive me for the late response.I think like with anything there are a lot of people giving testing a try. If you ‘try’ to be a developer, you can make the product worse than before you joined. If you ‘try’ to be a tester, even a bad tester will make the product better or at least no worse than before you joined.So you tend to see people staying in testing, even if they aren’t very good.If you get onto a big enough team and there are a few star performer they will make up for a few bad testers. Over time a bad tester might improve. This increases their chance of staying in testing.I have worked at 7 companies as a tester and met, literally, hundreds of testers over the years. Many did it because they weren’t good enough to get into programming. Some stumbled into it and figured it was a pay cheque. I’d say I only met a dozen who were truly passionate about testing. So, yes. I think there is a shortage of excellent testers.I think I’m an excellent tester. I have recruiters calling me all the time. They seems to have a serious problem finding excellent testers. Of the dozen excellent testers I know, none are actively looking for work because the company they are at treats them well. They have no reason to leave. They are highly valued.The best testers, in my opinion, think outside the box. They are lateral thinkers. They look at things differently. They are good at figuring things out without a lot of help. Hackers make good testers because they often work with systems they have little or no knowledge of and want to know more about it. They are good at learning, probing and figuring things out.Right now I’m looking at a laptop lock on my desk and wondering if I can open it without the combination. Is there a flaw in the design that will let me open it? Having this curiosity and desire to break things is a must for a good tester.I don’t know if this is something you can learn or if it comes from childhood.

Comments are closed.