Senior QA Lead Tester Analyst Engineer

What's in a name? One of the biggest bugbears I see in the testing community is the lack of consistency around role names when compared with other disciplines. For example, if someone was introduced to you as a "Senior Developer" you would know roughly where they stood - somewhat of an expert in their field, highly skilled maybe in a particular language or technology. But "Senior Tester"? To me that can mean a number of things; a higher level of responsibility (i.e. if issues are missed they will have a substantial impact on the bottom line),  responsibility over other testers (so an indicator of managerial rather than "pure" testing skills) or even just an indication of a few years experience (but with no guarantee that those years will have made that person a better tester).

One of the reasons for this is that the skillset of a tester is not clearly defined; while there are some core principles that you would be expected to be able to apply, particular specialisms will very much be driven by the range of products routinely being tested as well as the methodologies and tools being used to carry out that testing. This may include manual testing, automation (in any number of guises), or simply knowledge of a technology or business sector, which may or may not be skills that can be easily transferred to another role - e.g. moving to a different sector may mean the learning curve has to start all over again (although there will be some underlying test principles that will always apply).

Job adverts in particular are prone to this problem - I've often read role descriptions that don't seem to match the title, such as a senior tester who is only required to do a basic level of manual testing. And then we have the various terms that some recruiters use interchangeably - tester, QA specialist, test engineer, analyst - all of those could be advertising the same job, it's only the description that will truly tell you what the position entails. I've held a variety of positions over my career, from Testing Consultant (= "hired hand"), Test Co-ordinator (co-ordinating  entire product test strategies, test runs, other testers and, quite frequently, myself) right through to my current position as Lead Test Analyst, which, whatever my wife may think, does not mean I am looking at accessories for dogs.

I'm not suggesting a standardised  list of names (although I have a few suggestions, from the top down: Head Honcho / Project Manager Liaison / Chief Pedant / Test Monkey) - often the name reflects the corporate structure rather than being an objective description - it's just a plea (possibly to recruiters, although I doubt if any will read this) to look beyond the role name. To steal a line from The Prisoner: "I am not a job title, I am a tester!".


  1. I like to use the name "Test Specialist" for what I do.
    Test Specialist: A person who professional depth is in understanding testing and quality.

    It doesn't mean that:
    - I only test - I can contribute to coding of production code or people/team development.
    - I am not the only one testing / gatekeeper, etc: Everyone can (and should be motivated to) test in the regards of their skills and interest.

    1. I like that - allows you to focus on achieving the goals of testing (delivering a higher quality product) without necessarily being tied down to specific test activities.


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