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Career in Performance Testing vs. Development?

Chandella Montero
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Joined: Feb 18, 2011
Posts: 89
I'm in a big dilemma regarding career options, I wonder if anyone here can shed some light? For a bit of background: I have just landed my first java job. Ever since I've started learning java, I have always wanted to work in development. I like it, I enjoy the creativity it involves, I think it suits me. I have applied for an entry level development job, and I was offered a pretty good one.

Now to complicate things, I have been also offered another opportunity to embark on a different career path: Software Performance Testing. I don't know much about it, but I was told it would use my java skills and pay significantly more. I was also told that the opportunities for career progression with this kind of role are fantastic, etc, etc.

I like development. I don't know anything about testing. Does anyone here have any views on what exactly it entails, and how it compares to the day to day work of a developer? Are there any websites or resources I could use to do some research before making up my mind?

Thank you very much.


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Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
I like development. I don't know anything about testing.


Based on this statement, it seems like your development experience is very minor. And you surely don't have enough experience to be thinking about a "career."

Testing is a critical part of software engineering and typically occurs in one way or another in all areas. Moreover, there are many different types of testing which have different objectives, e.g. unit testing, integration testing, performance testing, security testing, etc.

If the position being offered to you is with your current employer and they are offering an increase in salary, I suggest that you eagerly accept the new position.

If the position being offered to you is with a different employer and they are offering a higher salary than what you currently have, I suggest that you eagerly accept the new position.

Keep in mind, if your current employer is suggesting that you stop development work, this could be an indication that you are not doing well as a developer and they would like to develop you in a different area for now.

Chandella Montero
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Joined: Feb 18, 2011
Posts: 89
Thanks for your reply, Jimmy. Interesting assumptions, none of them right

I have no experience in either, they are both entry level positions and neither of them is my current employer. This is why it is important that I make an informed decision.
Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Sounds good. In reality, you cannot build a "career" in performance testing. It is too small of an activity and is part of a much larger process. Keep in mind that you could certainly involve yourself in a position where this is all you will do, but this is not career development and your salary increases will not keep up with inflation.

In takes many, many years to master the skills required to be a "proficient" software engineer. If you spend too much time involved in other related but different activities, it is possible that you may never have enough time or the opportunity to excel. Entry-level testing positions and entry-level programmer positions are quite different. You have a difficult choice to make.

Good luck!
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30752
    
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I think performance testing is a better job to move to once you have more development experience. That way you have time to experience how things fit together, architecture, etc.


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Joe Harry
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Joined: Sep 26, 2006
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I guess having enough experience in coding and then taking up something related to preformance testing / analysis would make sense. Since you are just beginning your career, better stay with development. You have a long way to go.


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Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
...but I was told it would use my java skills and pay significantly more.



These are good suggestions above. However, if the testing position will truly pay significantly more, then I would suggest that you take the testing position. Keep in mind what I mention above, and in a year or two start to look for a developer's position.

Also, Java is a name so the first letter should be capitalized, e.g. Java. It is best to get in the habit of writing proper English at all times. Poor spelling fosters an impression of bad communication skills and a non-caring attitude.
Chandella Montero
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Joined: Feb 18, 2011
Posts: 89
Thanks a lot, Jeanne and Joe. It makes sense not to limit my options in the future. If it turns out that development is not for me, I can always move on to testing. The other way around sounds more complicated.
Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Keep in mind that testers typically command a significantly lower salary than developers and software engineers. And, in many situations future salary
offers will be based on what you are currently making. And yes, it is complicated. As an entry-level programmer (in the beginnning 6 to 12 months) you most likely will be put in a testing role regardless. Wouldn't it be nice to get paid more?
Chandella Montero
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Joined: Feb 18, 2011
Posts: 89
Jimmy Clark wrote:in many situations future salary
offers will be based on what you are currently making


Very true. But eventually, don't developers end up earning more? Let's say in 5 years' time?

Hmmm... I believe if they take you on as a trainee developer, they will train you to be a developer. It might take some time, but they can't get you doing something else forever!
Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
In most situations an individual significantly increases their salary when they change positions and companies. If your second position's (developer) salary is based on the higher of the two first positions, which one of the first positions has a high salary?

First position developer - 26K ------> Second position developer -------> 33K


First position tester - 34K ------> Second position developer -------> 41K



Hmmm... I believe if they take you on as a trainee developer, they will train you to be a developer. It might take some time, but they can't get you doing something else forever!


As I mention earlier, testing is a critical part of the development process. Furthermore, one of the best ways to train an entry-level programmer is to assign them testing tasks. This will give the programmer a good opportunity to first learn the codebase with least potential for damage. It is a good learning experience and has the lowest level of risk.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30752
    
156

Jimmy,
That assumes one can get a better paid development position without development experience.

Also, keep in mind we are talking about performance testing not functional testing here. You don't always learn the codebase/development skills as a performance tester. Performance testing is a fairly specialized niche.
Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
You don't always learn the codebase/development skills as a performance tester.


If you don't learn them AS a tester, then you can certainly learn then WHILE you are a tester. Train yourself and take control of your own destiny! Earn more while you do it.
 
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