The 5 points that Sérgio covers are:
- Blame Magnet
- Feeling undervalued
- Minimal Wage Compensation
- Career Growth Easily Capped
I’ve worked as a software tester for 10 years now, I fell into it. It’s not like I went through school thinking, “when I grow up I want to be a tester”. However I have a knack for it, have developed some solid skills and have grown a decent career out of this path.
If you find yourself ever receiving the blame for bugs in production, this is a huge red flag. This indicates the company culture around quality is sub par. I personally have rarely been made to feel like I was solely responsible for bugs in production.
I believe quality is a team responsibility and would only work with teams that shared that same value.
If you are interviewing you could ask, “how does the team respond to bugs in production? Was there a big bug recently? What happened?”. This should give you an indication if the company has a blame culture or a team culture.
Yes, there is an average pay gap difference between test engineers and software engineers. Graduate developers can get paid up to 15K more per year when starting in their career here in Australia.
BUT, test engineers do start with higher wages than support engineers. So we are definitely not the lowest in the pecking order.
Those poor web developers can be some of the lowest paid on this list. A database admin gets paid on average more than a software developer too. Interesting stuff.
My salary over time
Here’s how my salary as a tester has grown (all values are in AUD):
|2011||$18 per hour||Was initially offered $15 per hour, I negotiated up to $18 because I was also working in supermarkets for $23 per hour. This was a part time gig while at I was at uni.|
|2013||$1000 per week||this was a 6 month full time contract while I was finishing uni.|
|2014||60k to 65k a year||Graduate job in Sydney, went up to 65K a year after 6 months|
|2015||72K to 79K a year||Test engineer role that saw a decent pay bump|
|2017||90K a year||Contracted out to a big corporate client|
|2018||95K to 110K||The year started off shakily, I broke my ankle. I had a bit of instability in my job hunting efforts|
|2019||$650 per day||Took up a short term 4 month contract in between gigs because I was made redundant from the previous start up I was working at. Testers are expensive.|
|2019||120K per year||Big financial institution, senior QA engineer position|
|2021||150K-ish per year||I’m now running my own company and I’m on a 6 month contract on a pretty awesome day rate. The contract is likely to run longer and this is my projected income (minus business expenses) if I work 46 weeks in a year.|
Sure, my salary started low. But I’m now consistently getting paid the same level as the software engineers I work with. I’ve been getting paid about the same amount as other engineers since 2015.
I have not felt like my career growth has ever been “capped”. My wages have grown with the ICT industry average (I’m around a level 4 now):
Lonliness and undervalued
Sometimes testing can be lonely. In my previous role the work from home arrangement made me miserable. I get a lot of energy for my work from interacting with people. And towards the end of that gig I didn’t feel like my manager appreciated the value I brought.
As testers we are more like an insurance policy, you have testers to help reduce risk with software. Hopefully if we are doing our jobs correctly everything is ticking along smoothly and we are helping our teams prevent issues before customers see them.
I prefer to work in a collaborative environment with other software engineers. I’m often seen as being on the same level but with a slightly different skill set. We are all working towards building quality products.
Sérgio raises some valid point but they should also be seen as red flags. If you aren’t enjoying your work or not feeling appreciated, it might be time to try and find something a bit more engaging.
See my career tips for testers if you want to explore this path more.