On my personal business card, it says “Software Developer/Tester”. I usually call myself a “Software Engineer”. I develop, and I test. And my CV has plenty of skills and experience in both.

But, can I really do both? Surely I can only do one or the other? Does it make me indecisive about my career choice and career path?

The short answers are yes, no, and no.

Let me give you the long answers

Can I really do both?

Why not? There is a lot of overlap in development and QA. Good project teams generally, in my opinion, are more successful when the developer and the tester are in constant communication.

It’s true, I prefer to test software than develop it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t develop software (or write automated tests) when the need arises. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have my own personal projects where I’m developing.

Surely I can only do one or the other?

We all know that in the tech industry, there’s specialists and generalists. Some argue that being one is better than the other. Me, I think that both types of people have very valuable skills that are useful in a project.

Very early in my career, I decided I was going to be a generalist. I was interested in a lot of things (I still am. My secret to being a good listener is I am genuinely interested in what the other person is talking about. Even if it’s about their trip to Morecambe with Aunt Sally. I just love to know things).

So I learnt as much as I could about development. I learnt PHP, and I learnt JavaScript. I learnt about Linux, because that’s what web servers ran on. There are people out there who know lots more about topics than I do, and honestly, it frustrates me. But I also know, I have enough baseline knowledge to be able to pick stuff up.

It’s the same now I’m testing. I might be a tester by day, but by night I’m learning Swift. I’ll never be the expert in iOS development, and I’ll probably have to Google some syntax, but I know enough to do a very good job.

I would prefer to also be able to test very well. I’m almost certain that there will be a “Selenium expert” who knows more than me, but does that really matter when I have enough broad knowledge to learn what I need to know?

Does it make me indecisive about my career choice and career path?

No. My day job is as a tester, with my career plan being to one day, be a test manager. And, if you ask me, the best managers are generalists. But that’s probably a blog post for another day…