Why is QA not considered a separate engineering path?

Last year I started thinking about how important it is to have good testers in a development team, and that companies and the public are (finally) more aware of this fact as well.

The perception of testers as a positive and driving force behind delivering a quality product has definitely changed for the better ever since I began in the field over ten years ago.

Stories about how products and services are failing on a public and large scale are seen in the news more often as the dependence on technology grows everyday.

The importance of QA in development and as early as possible is also improving. With companies increasing more in the “shift left” thinking, testers are getting involved in product development earlier in the development process (as it should be) and within the iterative cycles all the way through to deployment.

Is the practice of QA and Testing as important for universities?

So, we now as an industry, widely appreciate the need for great testers, but why are the universities not producing courses on the same level as software engineering courses to help produce outstanding QA engineers and testers? Is it because testing is still not given the same respect as development? Do I believe having courses taught at universities about QA and testing would help improve the perception of test engineers? Well, yes, maybe it would.

It would show that QA and testing is a field in itself and is a reputable job to aspire to. I’m not saying that you should have to go to university to become a QA engineer, but the simple addition of a course being taught within universities to train individuals about QA and testing would elevate how many perceive QA.

Courses and Training for Testing and QA

When I was in university, the only exposure to testing practices we got was a short module in a four year course. And yet, it doesn’t seem that much has changed since then.

Other than the STE Software Testing Course from Oxford University, universities seem to be leaving the education and training of future testers to online facilities like Pluralsight, Test Automation University, Udemy and certification boards like ISEB.

Why is this? The field of testing is certainly complex like the field of development and programming. I would argue that you could share courses for programming that teach the basics in the first year but have modules delving into any of the following in the latter years like:

  • Automation and useful design patterns
  • Performance
  • Load
  • Security
  • API
  • Contract
  • UI
  • Exploratory
  • Regression and sanity
  • Manual
  • Test plan creation and management
  • CI and CD tools

Surely, even a short two year course could be made from this? Gaining a degree in testing from a university would give credibility to testers, showing that the field of testing and QA is a skilled and technical engineering discipline, and an area that people choose to stay and progress within and not just always a stepping stone job or something that individuals just find themselves within.

Recognised courses = Better Respect for QA and Testing?

The addition of these university courses, I’m hoping, will help to start changing the mindset that people in testing roles are skilled no matter if they’re performing only manual or non-functional testing practices.

Maybe I’m wrong and I haven’t googled enough, but I think that this needs to change in order to help change the perception of testers for the better.