I've been working in various helpdesk/software support positions for several years now, but my goal has always been to work in the field of QA. I enjoy problem solving and I'm always trying to learn about what causes bugs when I encounter them.
I haven't had any luck yet finding a position since I haven't finished my degree and I also don't live in a very large city, so job opportunities are slim.
I've been researching entry level QA positions and it seems like there's a ton of software that employers desire. Some of the ones listed that I've seen include RequisitePro, ClearQuest, Rational Test Suite, Caliber, Quality Center, QTP, Selenium, Load Runner and more. Is it necessary to learn all of these?
Also, is there an easy way for me to start using these applications? Many of them aren't free it seems like. Can I learn how to create automated tests just by writing simple ones for common web applications like Gmail and Youtube? Or should I look into testing open source web applications?
I've already found a thread on here about books for novice software testers, so I'm going to be reading some of those soon. Thanks for any help or suggestions!