For the past few years now, I have heard countless exhortations for software testing to become a "professional" community.
Generally speaking, those exhortations are a sales pitch - come earn by certificate and be a professional.
Sorry, guys, I don't buy it. The root word for professional is PROFESS - to say out loud. To stop saying http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif"testing is what I do" and start saying "a tester is who I am."
You do not need a certificate on your wall to do that. All you need to do is to *care*.
The next step is to get involved.
Now, not everyone is going to go out in public and speak, and not everyone is going to publish - or even blog. But there are other opportunities.
The fact is, for every guy on stage at a major conference, there are probably two behind the scenes. Printing out ID Badges. Dealing with registration. Putting the website together. For non-profits, the work is generally unpaid, but it has considerable value - you get in the conference free and you get to know other people who share common interests.
Right now, somewhere near you, a conference is calling for volunteers. It might be in West Michigan, it might be PNSQC in Portland, it might be Test2008 in New Delhi, India.
If your company doesn't have budget to go to a conference, I have very simply advice:
Schedule and Events
March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email: Matt.Heusser@gmail.com