As a Senior Business Development Consultant for Rullion IT Plus, I recruit quality IT testers across a whole range of specialisms on a day-to-day basis. The last year has definitely been an exciting one, with a really buoyant market across the UK.
In fact, the market is expanding exponentially, so there’s always a need for good testers. The fact is, every company will need a software tester at some point, it’s part and parcel of modern business, so really there’s always a reason to source talented people in the field.
Good automation testers are harder to come by though, which can present a challenge. And because their skills are highly valued, they tend to work on a contract basis. As more and more companies move to automation, the demand for these types of professionals is increasing too. We often find that although companies are making this move to automation, they only hire a specialist in the last stages after the framework is built, which can be troublesome. I try to advise companies to recruit an experienced automation tester from the start of the process, that way they can continually test as they build the framework, leading to a more robust system at the end. It’s just good practice essentially, but because this market is all so new, many businesses are learning as they go along.
This means that roles in automation testing are consistently in high demand.
Put it this way, roughly 99% of companies run testing. Many do it in-house and perhaps get a developer to look at it as a side-line, but this is what I was saying about it being an afterthought. A skilled automation tester will know exactly how to run a project from beginning to end to ensure everything goes really smoothly. That’s why they’re so valuable. Also, because it’s such a new area with things changing constantly, sourcing a highly skilled automation tester with relevant, up-to-the-minute experience is harder than finding a manual tester.
I’d also say that performance and data testers are highly sought after. Again, it’s all a new and rapidly developing area, so there are less people out there with solid experience.
Ultimately, the testing market is massively project based and it’s so broad. From SAP to UAP testers, there’s a need for so many different skills. That’s why I’d say it’s also about nurturing talent in these fields, giving professionals the opportunities to work across new projects to build up their skillset in a fast moving market.
This also means there’s a big difference between the remuneration for permanent and contract roles.
The more standard tester jobs tend to offer around £25k-£30k per year. That would be for say a manual tester recruited on a permanent basis, and the job will be less technical than some other areas of testing.
Something like automation testing on the other hand is all about the skillset, with businesses looking for specific experience for a certain project they have in mind. These quite often run as contract roles, and can pay anything from around £250-£320 per day.
The other interesting thing is that recruitment needs don’t really vary by sector, business or geographical area much.
Most companies need testers, so a job could come up just about anywhere.
I suppose it goes without saying that the big cities are busier for this type of work, but again, it’s down to the fact that many more, larger companies are based in the major UK cities like London, Manchester, Leeds and so on. The bigger the company, the more need they’ll probably have. Blue chip companies for example would usually have more call to use experienced testers than an SME.
There are definitely challenges to sourcing in this space.
The tricky part is finding the right people with the right skillset for companies based in remote areas.
For example, you might get a business that has a factory and head office set up in a rural location, but they need a great automation tester. The pool we have to fish from when it comes to highly skilled testers with the right experience is smaller, and although I’d say around 60-70% of people will travel for work, they may not want to come from a great distance.
As for how it’s looking for 2017 …
I think it’s very much going to depend on Brexit. Contracting work could go up or down as a result. I mean, there will always be a need for contractors in the IT testing market. Because it’s so project-based, it just stands to reason. But we may find more permanent roles coming up as companies look at budgets. It’ll be interesting to watch it unfold!