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How long does it typically take to progress from Test Analyst to Senior TA to Test Lead to Test Manager?

I've been working as a TA for almost a year and was wondering how long it typically takes to progress between roles.

A ball-park figure would be nice- also what influencing factors are there with regards to progressing from TA to Senior TA and so forth

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  • Given you an answer but wondering why titles bother to you? May 21, 2013 at 2:39
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    It it takes more than 3 years, there's something wrong with you. Just kidding. You might try asking a good recruiter or HR person -- they have have better data than any of us will.
    – user246
    May 21, 2013 at 3:05
  • Phil: It's not the title part that I'm particularly interested in, but an idea of a typical route in software testing (functional). I heard that many people have titles that don't exactly match the job description- so I guess I'm more interested in when I can expect the responsibility that come with the title.
    – Nicola555
    May 21, 2013 at 3:54
  • User246: Thanks for the heads up with asking a recruiter or HR person
    – Nicola555
    May 21, 2013 at 3:54
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    @Nicola there's lots if other career routes - consultancy, contracting etc. One problem with the typical route is that great testers move on to become mediocre managers... May 21, 2013 at 13:39

3 Answers 3

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Depend on industry, domain and whether companies give out titles or not Some companies will have a rigid structure where you need X years before you get a title change

I've known 'test managers' who have 2 years or less experience and you can find people who've worked for many years who are happy just to be called testers

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My favorite answer here: it depends. As Phil said, each company handles things differently.

As a thumbnail guide, most of the job ads I've seen treat 1-2 years experience as a junior role, where there's likely to be a fair amouont of guidance needed. 3-5 is usually seen as an intermediate level, where the tester is largely self-guided and is starting to mentor juniors. 5-8-ish is usually the senior level where a tester is expected to mentor others, act as a resource for the team, and often as a stand-in for the lead/manager. I've seen lead positions advertised at anything from 7-12 years experience, usually asking for technical lead type duties (mentoring, guiding the team direction, sometimes giving team members reviews, but rarely including hire/fire or budgeting). Actual test team management (as opposed to a title with regular tester duties) seems to be a 10+ experience thing - and if you want to continute to test, may not be what you want to be. Some places will explicitly designate technical leads who are "manager level" but choose not to follow a management track.

If you're looking for promotions, I'd suggest taking a good look at the duties of the next level you're aiming for, and start doing them as much as possible. It's pretty common for places to have an unspoken promotions policy of "we promote them when they're doing the work of the role we're promoting them to".

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  • Thanks heaps for the advice on taking a look at the responsibilities at the next level and making an effort to do them ASAP.
    – Nicola555
    May 21, 2013 at 20:31
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Title is not relevant with respect to long term career goals. Your question is about different career path - Being an Individual Contributor Vs Being a Manager.

The goals and expectations are different for both the roles.

Answer to your question - You grow up in your role based on your experience, contributions, taking up more responsibilities, demonstrating skills for senior levels. This is purely based on your effort, learning skills, adapability and passion for your job.

Industry Standard based on Job Descriptions - 10+ for Test manager roles, 8+ for Lead roles

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  • I would just add one more thing to "Industry Standard": Depends on the type of company and I would not strictly go by job description as most of them have pretty exaggerated requirements. I have led the teams ever since my 3rd year working. May 21, 2013 at 16:38

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