Why are testers paid?
I think often about the differences, common threads, and relationships between each of the roles on my team at work. Product Manager, Design, Web Developers, Platform Engineers, and Me (the tester). As a team we are paid to create the product that we were intending to build. The best product we can given the circumstances.
But we aren’t paid as a team. We don’t get one team salary that is then split evenly between each member of the team. Since that is the case we must, individually, be paid to produce different things and the perceived value of that work must also differ from role to role.
Maybe that’s obvious. But for me, as a tester, I began to ask “What do I produce of value? What am I actually paid for?”
Design and development create a product. I help them create that product but I do not create it, so I cannot be paid for making that product. Am I paid to be an assistant to the development team then? Well, yes, but surely I can be more specific than that. Do I get paid for testing? What does that even mean? What is the value in testing? What do I produce of value to my team or company?
As I was wandering down this path of thought, I stumbled across this tweet:
Oh. That’s it. That is definitely it. Nobody pays for testing, they pay for what testing produces, and what does testing produce? Information.
Saying testers are paid for testing, is like saying developers are paid for coding. There would be no consideration of the components/services/features that their code actually produces.
I like to say that there are two primary functions to my testing: I acquire information and I provide information. I learn and I communicate.
- Explore our product and the products/services we integrate with — Generally what we think of when we think of testing.
- Seek info wherever it is available: — Specifications, Design docs, Testing books/ blogs / forums.
- I ask a lot of questions.
- I talk with my squad about what I have learned, I deliver information.
- I write up bug reports.
- I create and add to documentation about our product.
Information is what I produce of value to my team.
We move fast. The information I acquire decreases in value over time. I have to deliver information in the most efficient and effective way possible.
This is why testers are paid. Being good at both acquiring information and delivering that information is crucial to not only our teams success but to our personal success and growth as testers.