Less Technical Career Options for Testers

Some software Testers may get tired of a long career in testing or do not want to pursue a career technical career, such as becoming an automation specialist, or a developer. Such software testers can go on to become product owners, business analysts, scrum masters, project (program or product) managers, or engineering managers. There are many other non-technical roles to choose from, but here I will focus on the most common ones. Let us explore these non-technical career options and dive into the details of each of them. Final remark before we go on: even though these roles seem non-technical, each of these roles benefits if the tester has a technical background, and most contemporary testers do. 

Product Owners

As a tester often you would think about in what way would a customer use a product, and how a particular functionality could be made easier for the customer to use. As a product owner, you would be able to influence those kinds of decisions - after all the product owner is the one coming up with the stories in the product backlog. Software testing as a career does produce very good product owners, you just have to bear in mind that testing is no longer the main focus in your new role. Speaking in Waterfall terms, a product owner could be considered as a proxy, or an intermediary, between the customer and the development teams. 

Tests often become very good at communicating, due to the nature of their role. As it turns out this skill carries over and can be very useful, as product owners must communicate with multiple stakeholders regularly. To transition from software tester to product owner, it is important to take on new responsibilities, when possible, such as leading user research studies, product development, and leading team members. It is also important to seek mentorship and guidance from experienced product owners and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in the field. With the right skills, mindset, and experience, a software tester can successfully transition to a product owner role and have a greater impact on the products they work on.

Business Analysts

A software tester seeking to become a business analyst can take several steps to make that career transition. One important step is to gain a good understanding of the software development lifecycle and the role of the business analyst within it. This can be achieved by learning more about industry standards, such as the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), and by attending various courses or workshops and such.

Another important step is to get experience in the areas that a business analyst is typically responsible for, such as requirements gathering, analysis, and documentation. Software testers can do this by stepping up and taking on additional responsibilities within their current role, such as participating in requirements reviews (like 3 Amigos, or formal reviews) or acting as a liaison between the development team and the business stakeholders.

In addition to gaining knowledge and experience, software testers looking to become business analysts should also network with other professionals in the field. This can be done by joining professional organizations, such as the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), and by attending conferences and networking events.

It's also important for software testers to develop their soft skills such as communication and problem-solving. Business Analysts spend a lot of time communicating with stakeholders and need to be able to effectively convey technical information to non-technical audiences.

Finally, a software tester looking to become a business analyst should update their resume and online profile to reflect their new area of focus. This can include highlighting relevant skills and experience, such as requirements gathering and analysis, and listing any relevant certifications or training.

In summary, a software tester can become a business analyst by gaining knowledge and experience in the software development lifecycle and the role of the business analyst, networking with other professionals in the field, developing soft skills, and updating their resumes and online profiles.

Scrum Masters

Software testing is an integral part of Agile software development. While software testers are responsible for validating the software, Scrum Masters are responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of the development team. Many software testers are interested in transitioning to the role of a Scrum Master, especially testers who have a strong knack for communication and collaboration.

The journey from a software tester to a Scrum Master is not an easy one, but it can be an enriching experience. The role of a Scrum Master involves a wide range of responsibilities, such as facilitating meetings, managing conflicts, and ensuring that the team is following (and learning about) the Scrum framework. Additionally, the Scrum Master must also have a deep understanding of the software development process. It is also a big advantage if the Scrum Master has domain knowledge of the product, and with a testing background, this shouldn’t be an issue!

One of the biggest challenges that software testers face when transitioning to a Scrum Master role is a change in mindset. Software testers are used to working in a more focused manner, where they focus on reporting bugs, exploring the product, automating features, etc. On the other hand, Scrum Masters very much need to be more collaborative, working closely with the development team to ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s not to say that testers should not collaborate (it’s very important), but for Scrum Masters, collaboration and communication are the bread and butter of their work.

To become a Scrum Master, software testers must first familiarize themselves with the Scrum framework and Agile philosophy. This can be done by reading books, attending workshops, and participating in online courses. Testers who aim to become Scrum masters should have concrete experience working in Scrum. This can be done by volunteering to be a Scrum Master for small projects or by shadowing an experienced Scrum Master.

Another important aspect for software testers is to understand the soft skills needed for the Scrum Master roles, such as communication, leadership, and conflict resolution. These are crucial for the successful facilitation of meetings, ensuring that the team is working towards their goals, and ensuring that everyone is heard and respected. Scrum Master should be empathetic, organized, and have the ability to prioritize - all skills that testers already have. Testers need to focus and hone these crucial skills to be successful as Scrum Masters.

In conclusion, the journey from a software tester to a Scrum Master is not an easy one, but it can be very gratifying. Software testers who are interested in transitioning to a Scrum Master role should first familiarize themselves with the Scrum framework and gain some experience working in a Scrum environment. Additionally, they should also develop the soft skills needed for the role such as communication, leadership, and conflict resolution. With the right mindset and preparation, software testers can become successful Scrum Masters and make a positive impact on the development team.

Project Managers

Testers can make really fine project managers, as testers get knowledge across the development process they gain a lot of broad knowledge. This can be very helpful for a project manager, as it’s a role that benefits from seeing the bigger picture. Testers are good at thinking about risks and this is one of the most important duties of a project manager.

Those software testers who can communicate with others with ease, empathy, and efficiency make good candidates for the project manager role. New testers-turned-project managers can think about certifications to add a bit more credibility to their new role. Most notably the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification from the Project Management Insitute.

The biggest challenge for a project manager, with a tester background, is to make sure not to favor too much testing, at the expense of the project. This means that a tester must be able to control their bias to be effective in their new roles, which is not primarily focused on testing the software, but rather on handling many different aspects of the project.

QA Engineering Managers

This is yet another role that a lot of testers move into, especially the ones with advanced people skills. Testers make good classical engineering managers but are even better suited to be Quality Engineering Managers, due to their fitting background experience with quality practices.

To become a quality engineering manager, a software can consider obtaining an official certification, such as the Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE) or the Six Sigma Green Belt. Additionally, they should have a good understanding of industry standards, such as ISO 9001 and CMMI - especially applicable to those in industries with strict quality standards.

For many testers, this can be a considerate step up in their careers, as quality engineering managers do not only focus on usual engineering manager duties but are also involved in improving quality across the product. With the authority that this role can bring, a former tester can do more to raise quality standards and awareness in their org.

Test Managers

A software tester can become a test manager by developing skills that are required for the role, this is a pretty natural process for many testers. Test managers are the ones responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing the testing of software products to ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction. Do bear in mind that not all organizations have this role, as it tends to gravitate towards a more traditional approach to testing. Modern testing practices don’t usually have a dedicated test manager role, but, the responsibilities of a test manager are shared among the members of a cross-functional team.

One of the main skills that a software tester brings to the test manager role is the ability to think critically - as it is with any other testing-related role. A tester must be able to identify potential issues and bugs in the software and come up with a plan to address them. This same skill can be applied to managing a test team, where the manager must try to anticipate and mitigate risks. Note that some test managers do not manage testers directly, but rather handle the communication with management, deal with the reporting activities, and process-related stuff.

Another important skill that a software tester brings to the table is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. We know that a tester must be able to clearly explain the issues they have found to the development team and collaborate with them to find a solution. A test manager must also be able to communicate effectively, but, not only with the development team but also with stakeholders (such as upper-level management) clients, and other departments within the company.

As a software tester, one must have a strong understanding of the software development process. They know the stages of development, what to expect at each phase, and how to test the software at each part of the SDLC. This knowledge can be applied to managing a test team (and the testing activities) where the test manager must also have a deep understanding of the development process, in order to contribute to it effectively.

In addition, a test manager should be well-versed in testing methodologies and tools. They must know how to create test cases, execute them, and report the results, which come from previous experience as a tester. A test manager, who is an experienced tester, will be better equipped to understand the needs of the project in order to test better and meet the project deliverables on time.

In order to become a test manager, a software tester can consider obtaining a relevant certification, such as the Certified Manager of Software Testing (CMST) or the Certified Tester Advanced Level Test Manager (CTAL-TM). Additionally, they should have a good understanding of the industry standards, such as ISTQB - especially for test managers working in highly regulated industries, like healthcare, banking, etc.

To conclude, a software tester can often make an excellent test manager, as they bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to the role. It could be a natural evolution for a tester to become a test manager. With the right training and development, a tester can learn the additional skills required to excel in the test manager role and lead teams to deliver high-quality products. Lastly, this role is the best fit for testers who are even more organized and responsible than the average and have exceptional soft skills as well.


As explained above, there are plenty of career options for testers who are not fond of or interested in automated testing, or other aspects of technical testing. Most of these roles are entirely or somewhat managerial in nature, meaning that they are best suited for those testers with advanced soft skills. Apart from these more conventional career paths, testers can always get creative and find other alternative non-technical roles to explore and grow into. These would most likely require specialization within a certain domain, meaning that a software tester would become a subject matter expert or a domain expert in a certain field. All in all, software testing is a very broad field, and as such testers are well-equipped to transition into a plethora of different roles!


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