I have a BA degree in Biochemistry. I worked at a research lab for 5 yrs before I quit my job to be a stay at home. Now I want to change my career and get into the field of QA. I don't have much knowledge as to what the best way is to get into this field. I cant afford to take online courses, so I want to self teach it to me. Any suggestions and help would be greatly appreciated.


I'd suggest you start with the software quality blogs and forums around the Internet. Some of the online portals I like are:

If there are any tester meetups or testing weekends in your area, look at going to them - I'm quite sure you could find someone willing to mentor you and help get you started.

If you want to look into the automation side, I'd suggest working through tutorials for one of the free tools (Selenium has a large user community - the IDE is rather old and won't be supported for too much longer, but it's a quick way to get a feel for how Selenium works).

If you're not comfortable with programming, automation may not be for you, but in my view that isn't a major issue because there's always a need for manual testing.

You could also take a look at some of these related questions:

This should give you somewhere to start.

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  • @MichaelF - but nothing about testing, right? – Joe Strazzere Apr 22 '14 at 13:57
  • @JoeStrazzere It's always a good idea to improve your testing with a little programming or computer science, which is why I added it as a comment and not an answer – MichaelF Apr 22 '14 at 14:03
  • @MichaelF - fair enough – Joe Strazzere Apr 22 '14 at 15:12
  • I'd also suggest Coursera coursera.org and even the Khan Academy khanacademy.org have courses on programming and computer science online, and free. These can only help to augment whatever testing knowledge you get from Kate's links – MichaelF Apr 22 '14 at 15:21
  • Another good, and free, class is Software Testing from Udacity. – jruberto Apr 23 '14 at 0:10

First of all, it would be great if you expose the reasons that drive you to move to the QA world. What attracts your attention. As you studied Biochemistry there are great opportunities for you for instance in Pharmaceutical or Petrochemical industries, where high risks products and processes require a high level of Quality Assurance and Control. Its professionals are very well paid. No much extra study you will require to begin as a junior.

If you think in the software sector instead, you would need to study some software fundamentals, which will require some time. If this is the case I recommend beginning with the path of the ISTQB certification that will take you 3-4 months of part-time study and it will let you begin to work as a junior Software Tester.

As I mentioned before, everything depends on where you want to develop your career, and it is not a trivial decision. So let's clarify this before :D

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My answer is that there are much free online courses available, you can opt for it and with free time use selenium IDE , QTP trial version in your system and gain your knowledge. Google it for more free courses and tutorials for tools and learn them there.

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I myself comes from a purely Science field (nothing technical) before being a QA.

I suggest you read books related to QA and software testing. Anything you can get a hand of those books are worth it. A lot of free downloadable ebooks are available online. Familiarize yourself with the common terms used, especially the different types of testing used. Then be honest to your employer that have no experience but really want to learn and pursue being a QA.

Honesty is the key. Don't pretend to know something when you don't. Instead, persist to learn. Good luck!

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6 years since the question was asked. I wonder how such a situation has changed over the years.

I can't find where the OP was located, some cultures/countries might be more competitive and such a transition might be more difficult.

I did a similar transition (from management/psychology/human resources field) into testing (I don't consider myself QA) about 3 years ago. However, I live in a smaller country in Europe with about 3 % unemployment rate, so virtually everyone who wants to have a job does have a job. And virtually anyone who wants to make a transition into IT/testing/SW development succeeds in doing so unless you're deliberately sabotaging yourself during interviews.

On the other hand, I've also met people who have found a job easily, perhaps transitioned from other fields, but lost their job quickly because they couldn't handle first couple of months in their new role. Getting yourself a new job is only part of your overall success. But that's a different question.

Getting to the point of how someone can transition into testing/QA:

  • find out what's the situation on the job market, how much competition you can expect
  • read blogs/books about the desired field, but don't procrastinate too much here, the point is to get at least some idea what the field is about, but do not expect you'll find everything before your first interviews
  • embrace the fact you don't know much and you'll just say "I don't know" many times during interviews
  • it's actually better to include how you'd find information, how you'd go about figuring stuff out instead of just saying "I don't know"
  • I'd recommend getting your first testing/QA job at a place where you'd have more experienced colleagues around; it's important to learn and it's tougher if you're the only tester there
  • learn at least a few technologies and tools you'll likely need to use/understand - for a standard entry-level testing job nowadays, it'd be something like SQL, JSON, XML, Postman, having some idea about client-server architecture (e.g. find requests/responses in browser dev tools); in my case, I virtually went into testing with only knowing SQL (to some very basic level :D), so you can see how low the bar was
  • it helps to have analytical thinking
  • many testing roles require knowing some automation (mostly Selenium-based tools and frameworks), but even now I can find many job adds where only "manual" testing is a must (this could be only in my country, I don't really know)
  • be creative when it gets to getting your interviews - responding to job adds is one way, but you can go to conferences, you can find communities online, you can use LinkedIn, ...

Also, I've met people who have first been in Technical Support roles and later transitioned into testing/QA. It seems to be a popular path if one has no experience with testing/QA. If I was to do such a path, I'd try to find a company where it's possible to change roles over time if you show interest and ability to do something else. Some companies are strict about it but some let you do more if they see potential. This could be a company policy or simply a good boss.

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To pursue a career in software QA and work for a software testing services company, you could do the following to get the ball rolling.

  • Look for free online courses to understand the concepts of software QA
  • Watch videos on how Agile methodologies work in a product development and QA cycle
  • Could make sample use cases and test cases for a functionality of any common application.(Say use cases of a social media platform and test cases for sign-up and login feature)
  • Read blogs published by reputed software QA companies to stay up to date with latest trends
  • Attend free webinars held by reputed companies to know what clients need in current environment and what companies have to offer as solutions.
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