Welcome to QA, you'll go far if you leave soon

A view into how fellow professionals assumptions about QA as a career is damaging and how we can change that.

Typically, you'll know of a bright eyed, hardworking individual who is looking to get a start in the Games Industry. They want to be a Designer but haven't had any luck. They are passionate and you've told them that QA is a great stepping stone into the industry. A recently acquired degree (that they've never used in that field) is now their primary qualification and justification for a role that requires a different subset of skills from what they've trained in. But hey, how hard can finding bugs be? They will know a bug when they see it so that makes them qualified, surely?

I don't call it a promotion when a QA'er gets a start in another discipline. It's a career move.

You're confident in your advice as no-one stays in QA longterm and moving into another discipline is the natural order of progression, isn't it? The only people that stay behind are the ones who work in management or don't have a "secondary" talent to move into another discipline.

Besides, they may be in good company as you give testimony of how X person who is now Lead Designer / CEO started off in QA. Unfortunately, these celebrated rags to riches stories reflect the notion that being in QA is something you should shed and advance from.

QA contend with the notion from observers outside the industry that we "just play games". It doesn't help that some professionals within our industry also hold this view and look upon QA as a transient state of wannabe developers. This has the result of finding it difficult to attract, train and retain talented individuals. It can also be self-fulfilling because if we're not encouraging careers within QA, how are we to grow and help deliver products to the ever higher standards our customers expect?

Having passionate ex-QA'ers moving into other disciplines helps the organisation as a whole

Cards on the table, going through QA can be a great way into the industry. You can learn how the development teams work from the inside whilst building connections and getting first access to available positions. But we shouldn't be seen as a recruitment way-station. QA should be seen as it's own vital discipline within the development team with it's own career progression. Financially, salaries are competitive and falling in line with equivalence bands of experience in other disciplines.

It's worth pointing out that I'm completely supportive of team members having or discovering a passion for a discipline outside of QA. Having passionate ex-QA'ers moving into other disciplines helps the organisation as a whole due to quality minded individuals being injected across the business. To that end, I've changed my use of language when describing such events. I don't call it a promotion when a QA'er gets a start in another discipline. It's a career move. Yes, it is advancement but that's their personal advancement on their own career path. 

This change in thinking has some implications for the other disciplines. With QA looking to retain and develop more of their own talent, it means that the QA team is no longer going to be as rich a talent pool in which to fish in. If disciplines want to hire Juniors, they could seek out applicants via jobs roles that are open to everyone rather than having QA "incubate" potential applicants.

QA has matured as a discipline. It's professional, embedded across teams, promotes quality and through their efforts are the multiplier that enables every discipline to shine. Join us and stay with us because you want to be a part of that journey, you'll find that you can go quite far in QA.

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