I am a SQA professional with 15 years of experience. My industry experience is in games and in social network mobile platforms. I'm a very accomplished team leader and mentor, with more than a small amount of department and project management experience as well. I've founded new QA departments for small companies and managed up to 65 testers in large ones. In other words, my resume is fairly robust and my QA fundamentals are rock-solid.
However, my experience is at least 95% black box. And if I am seeing the writing on the wall correctly, the need for black box QA professionals is on the decline, while the need for SQE professionals is on an inevitable rise. I'd like to see my pool of employment opportunities grow over time rather than dwindle.
I've an opportunity to take myself out of the job market for the next 6-12 months, during which I'd like to do some combination of: - learn some programming - learn how to use some test automation tools - acquire an overview of SQE implementation
I won't be able to take any physical classes, but will have plenty of time for reading, online classwork and maybe find some open source projects to practice on. Obviously I don't think that 6-12 months is going to make me into a competent SQE. And my goal is not to entirely reboot my career and start again as a dedicated SQE. But if I could learn enough to be able to 'speak the language', hold my own in a strategy meeting, function as a competent liason between SQE and other departments, etc... I think those skills would really broaden my resume.
I'm not yet sure if I should try to become a generalist, with a broad overview of SQE, or perhaps pick something like Selenium (to pick an example out of thin air) and just learn everything possible about it. I could see myself doing contract work, say going into companies with no automated QA processes and doing all the work of implementing Selenium, training the testers, establishing the protocols, integrating the processes between departments, etc. I'm great at all that kind of stuff, I just don't know Selenium :).
Right now, I'm just at the beginning of trying to figure out what I need to learn and how best to learn it. It's a rough sea of too-much information and too many acronyms out there for me to set out without asking for some guidance. Recommendations of books, blogs, websites, discussion groups, forums would be most welcome at this time, as well as any other advice you feel like sharing.