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:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What is a professional?

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"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:

Go Anyway.


Anonymous said...

Blog posts are good.

Unknown said...

Agreed - but only up to a point; "certification" in IT today is mostly a vendor trying to get you to buy a particular brand of snake oil. Our craft is in dire need of becoming a true profession, for reasons that should be obvious by observing other professionals.

A "profession", like engineering or law or architecture or nursing, involves a basic level of standardized education, augmented through a specified amount and type of continuing education throughout one's career. In addition, a professional (in the legal sense, in the US, Japan and Singapore, at any rate) has passed formal, industrywide, vendor- and product-neutral examinations and earned a certification or charter (in the Commonwealth). Finally, and this is key, a professional agrees to abide by and promote a core set of ethical and operational principles; this agreement is binding to the point where sufficient violation can result in disciplinary action up to and including revocation of the individual's certification, membership in the professional organization, and therefore loss of the right to practice said profession. Think 'malpractice'.

What would IT be like if we were true professionals? For one thing, we'd be able to push back against the shady "entrepreneurial" management/marketing types who, when told that project X would take six months, promise it to customers/investors in six weeks instead. We'd have the legal right and supporting framework to refuse to do substandard work, and make it stick. (Of course, we'd also have the responsibility to be competent and accurate; most professions have some sort of peer review.) We'd stop having our jobs taken away and given to hemisemidemiqualified people half a planet away who work for six cents on the dollar, and provide almost that much value. We'd be able to clearly differentiate between those of us who take our work seriously and try to do the best possible job, and those who are just in it to BS their way to a fast buck.

We as professionals would benefit; customers would benefit; society as a whole - which is increasingly dependent upon software and software-related artifacts - would benefit. The only obvious losers would be the poseurs and the snake-oil salesmen.