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How can I course-correct my testing career path?

Don't get stuck in QA monotony. Show your technical knowhow and expand your horizons to boost your career -- even if it means throwing out the map.

There is often a divide between the tasks a QA tester wants to perform and the ones she is assigned. Many QA professionals want to advance their testing career path with new skills and technologies, but their employers often reject these overtures, even when they make testers more valuable assets.

It's difficult to watch opportunities pass you by, such as when a company hires outside testers to take on a project that requires advanced skills. If you can't even get an interview as an internal candidate, it can feel like you've run up against a wall blocking your testing career path.

To win over reluctant managers, apply exciting QA skills to a legacy application to demonstrate your diligence. While this approach might require time and patience compared to testing a relatively new technology, I know some testers who made a big impression working on such assignments to get moved to a more cutting-edge project.

If your company engages in cloud, mobile, IoT or blockchain development, concentrate your efforts to get a job with those projects. Schedule some one-on-one time with your manager or use your annual performance review to express interest in advancing your testing career path within these areas. You can further your skills with outside education and demonstrate depth of knowledge with course completion certificates.

Get good at exploratory testing to make an impression

Exploratory testing is one practice where QA testers have ample opportunity to show off new skills they've learned, plus deal with unexpected changes and then improvise -- deeds that might catch management's attention (in a good way). In this podcast, testing expert Matt Heusser detailed some approaches to take for exploratory testing, as well as scripted testing.

However, your employer might still think you lack practical experience or that you are too valuable in your current role to make a career change. When you've truly exercised all options internally and your testing career path is at a standstill, it's time to see what other employers offer. A different organization might place higher value on your knowledge and education. Sometimes the grass really is greener.

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