In the StickyMinds.com column, "May I Take Your Temperature?" by Linda Hayes, you were asked to rate the state of the testing industry and your current level of satisfaction as a tester. Many of you responded to Linda's survey, and the results surprised her. In this week's column, Linda shares a revision of her state of the industry, as reported by you!
Good news: My pessimistic view of the state of the testing industry, as described in my last column, " May I Take Your Temperature? " was disproved by the survey results. Not only are a majority of responders enjoying their jobs as testers, but they offer useful and even profound advice. Here is what we found:
The average tester stays in a company for just under three years. That's a range from a high of about ten years in one place to only six weeks. Many are contractors, which may skew the numbers lower. Those who spent a long time at a single company typically rotated through a number of roles and/or divisions. The average time spent in testing as a career was almost nine years, with a high of thirty years. If people can stay in testing that long, it can't be all bad.
Do You Enjoy Your Job?
Think about whether you look forward to going to work and feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of the day. Rate this on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means you are a candidate for anti-depressants and 5 means you spend your free time improving your testing skills.
As the graph below shows, most testers actually enjoy what they do. The average response was 3.6 out of 5. Again, shows what I know. Far from being depressed and downtrodden, most testers show enthusiasm for their job.
As you will see when we get to the bonus question, a lot of this can be credited to individuals' adopting healthy and realistic views of their job as opposed to external influences.
Do You Feel Your Efforts Are Recognized?
This is about non-monetary rewards--a.k.a. "psychic income"--that make you feel like a valued member of the team. They might take the form of a promotion, plaque, or even just favorable mention in a meeting or memo. Rate this on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means you have to remind people who you are and what you do and 5 means you have a wall of certificates and plaques, a desk covered with trophies, and drawers full of thank-you cards and letters.
Here the answers averaged 2.9, which is barely lower than exactly in the middle. In other words, we feel reasonably recognized--not great but not bad. However, at the ends of the scale more people feel under appreciated than highly valued. Since the curve on enjoyment was skewed exactly the other way, this reinforces the perception that testers often provide their own job satisfaction. In my opinion, this is actually healthy as it puts you more in control of your own emotional state.
Do You Feel Reasonably Rewarded for Your Efforts?
This is all about the money. Are you paid fairly for the amount and quality of work that you do? Do you have a chance to earn bonuses or raises that are based on measurements within your control? Use the same scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means you are always looking for transfers to other jobs or companies that pay more and 5 means you have a plausible opportunity to retire early and enjoy your golden years.
Here, again, is a surprise. The average was 3.1, slightly higher than exactly in the middle. So the idea that testers are underpaid is not borne out. I find this particularly hopeful, since I believe that historically we have been underpaid but that things are changing for the better. Many respondents said they receive equal pay to developers. Hallelujah!
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