Career Advice

I was recently asked “What are the best career advancement steps for someone who is a junior to intermediate QA professional?”


If you want your career to move into programming, study programming.

If you want your career to move into management, read everything by Jerry Weinberg.

If you want to be the best tester in the world, read everything by Jerry Weinberg.

If you want to do what I do, read Weinberg.

On second thought, read Weinberg if you want to be a programmer, too.

I can say a lot more, but I’m not sure how much more I can say that is as valuable per word. Most of my work, anyway, is some variation or elaboration of Jerry’s ideas, and he in turn credits his teachers, such as Bateson, Boulding, and Satir. I think the future of the testing craft lies in the humanism and general systems approach these pioneers represent.


6 thoughts on “Career Advice

  1. If you want to be the best consultant in the world, read everything by Jerry Weinberg…

    You know, this blog should have been titled:

    “There’s something about Jerry”


  2. Maybe it should of had, thanks for the tips, im a programmer my self, at age 14 i don’t think that there is anything that i can do besides go to school and study, Visual Basic 6.0, C++, C#, J#, the languages that i want to know , maybe ill get that in college. Any more ideas besides

    “read Weinberg if you want to be a programmer, too?”
    LoL, thank’s, have a great day, or night, or evening, or after noon, which ever.
    See ya

  3. Steven:

    I’m sure you’ll find a lot of things worth playing with and/or studying in the next four, six, or ten years.

    I think the point of reading Jerry Weinberg’s stuff is that it has a lot more to do with what is actually going on with the people you are going to be “interfacing with” than many technically savvy people give credit to.

    That is to say, the number of job interviews you are going to get because (let’s say) you’ve put Weinberg books on your resume, or even A.Y.E. conferences attended, might be vanishingly small. But the number of horrible jobs you can avoid interviewing for–and the number of difficult work situations you can “aikido” yourself out of–because you understand the kinds of cues Weinberg books clue you in to might be significant indeed.

    Listening to what’s /not/ being said in a workgroup meeting, for instance, is not the kind of skill most HR people (or even tech managers, unfortunately) rate as highly as whatever specific technical fad they are pushing, be that .NET or XML or whatever.

    But I’ve used that skill to get a lot of things done, including looking for a new job–when I remember to use it.

    All best, always,


  4. I was reading through your old blogs — this one where you mention about Jerry’ teachers – Satir, Boulding, Beteson led me to read lot about these great thinkers. I read about Boulding’s papers, Bateson’s adductive reasoning and so on. A must read for all testers.

    If I consider these people as first generation of modern thinkers that influenced software testing, Jerry would second generation and you (James Bach) I think would be in third generation. It really great to read the works of people like you… It is mind boggling

    I would be wondering who first figured out the connection between works of Boulding, Bateson, Jerry and others to Software testing … Is that you? Or Jerry?


    [James’ Reply: Jerry himself makes that connection. Those were his influences. In personal correspondence, he also identified the following people as people he worked with who greatly influenced him in his early career: Fred Brooks (author of Mythical Man-Month), Ken Iverson (creator of APL), Anatol Rapaport (chairman of his doctoral committee).

    To quote Jerry: “Perhaps the biggest influence on my approach to testing was Bernie Dimsdale, who worked with John von Neumann at Aberdeen. Bernie learned technical reviewing from Johnny, and passed his learning on to me. He also introduced me to Johnny’s works on computer design, with its emphasis on error prevention and detection. I consider Johnny my “grandfather” in computing, though I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.”] 

  5. Dear James,

    I am a classical newbie in the testing field. With which Jerry Weinberg’s book should I start my adventure?

    [James’ Reply: An easy choice is Perfect Software and Other Illusions. A challenging but profound choice would be Introduction to General Systems Thinking.]

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