How do I get a test specialist job with IBM?
December 21, 2013 7:20 PM   Subscribe

I have 17 years experience in the computing industry at 33. Web design, hardware, etc. I am looking to either move sideways and learn more, or exit the industry (which I do not want).

My most recent job was with NCR. I worked as a field technician.

My little town is not very developed in the computing sector - it is primarily blue collar and manufacturing (Michigan). There is an IBM facility in town, and the jobs they have available that I'd like to try for are as test specialists.

What does a test specialist do?
What training can I take to prepare for this job?
What software is used for this job?
How can I best prepare for this job?

The requirements say that I need at least one year experience, but I am going to try anyway because I am a very fast learner.

I will have more questions as information comes in.
posted by squirbel to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What type of test specialist – technical or functional? Do they specify anything about the types of projects you would be working on?

What a tester does, depends on that. I'm a functional test expert, which means I develop and implement test strategies based on functional specifications. As a test specialist with little experience, however, I imagine IBM is looking for someone in a "tester" role. A functional tester would perform tests written by a test expert or test manager (terminology can differ). Functional testing essentially involves checking that an application performs as specified. If/when you come across problems (bugs), you then create defects, although even that can depend on the position. Sometimes brand-new testers can really only run a test; if they find a defect, they may need to alert their manager so that the manager can confirm it's a defect and create it. When a bug is corrected by developers, the defect is returned for testing. And so forth.

There is a testing qualifications board, ISTQB, and you could take their Foundation level certification training. It's a very good base, since they teach you methodology, not tools.

There are different types of testing software, though the best-known is Quality Center.

You could prepare by reading documents you find on ISTQB's site, and also reading up on test strategies. I've only touched on very generic stuff here, there's much more to it: test requirements, test automation, reporting... Testing is a career in and of itself nowadays. Without test experience, you're going to want to tailor your approach based on the sort of tester they're looking for. If functional, accentuate your software background and note anything related you've done, like finding bugs in specs. (Indeed, sometimes you don't even need to run a test in order to find a bug!) If technical, focus on your hardware background. To become a tester requires something of a sixth sense for where problems will be, so if you have that and can illustrate it, you'll be a step ahead. On the other hand, if you've only corrected bugs, that's not quite the same thing.
posted by fraula at 12:03 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

This might seem like an obvious, dumb answer...but why not just call and ask? Explain that you're interested in applying, but would love to have a better understanding of what day-to-day work looks like. :)
posted by semaphore at 1:35 PM on December 22, 2013

I've bought Rex black's Foundation book, and looked at several sample tests. I managed to answer correctly 80% of them, so after studying, I believe I can do this :D

Thank you so much for answering my question (and seeing it)!

I am excited to begin studying :)

I am also watching Quality Center YouTube videos.
posted by squirbel at 8:47 AM on December 23, 2013

This is the job ad:

What type of tester is this?
posted by squirbel at 9:13 AM on December 23, 2013

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