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Purpose of Software Testing Associations
A software testing association is an organization that helps provide training, guidelines, networking tools and a professional affiliation for software testers. Think of the association as a community focused solely on software testers and their needs. Software testing associations are available in local, national and international varieties. The two front runners are the Association for Software Testing and Software Test Professionals, which both offer many of the same benefits for testers. The desire of these associations and others is to develop and maintain a high level of professionalism for software testers and test researchers.
Image credits: Used with permission from AST
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One of the main benefits of joining a software testing association is education and training. Testing associations keep members up to date on the latest training materials, workshops and conferences. With a membership, testers and researchers can sign up for exclusive training at discounted prices.
Every different association has different benefits. For instance, the Association for Software Testing provides members with a professional affiliation, which can be used to prove your dedication to the software testing industry. With AST, you can also benefit by joining or creating a special interest group to tackle important issues within the software testing industry, such as ensuring professional testers have access to proper education.
Discounts and other privileges are often the reason why you may decide to join a software testing association or not. In addition to discounted or free training, you often have access to limited attendance or exclusive conferences as a representative of your association or special interest group. If you have questions, you have a community of professionals, along with coaching, available in chat sessions, webinars and regular meetings. If you publish articles and resources on the software testing industry, a membership will help you get your ideas to more people through blog and article syndication.
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With the all the benefits, it's hard to see a downside. However, unless you are devoted to your industry, joining a software testing association may be overwhelming. Casual software testers receive little benefit from a membership. Memberships are best for industry professionals, such as those creating software testing methods, researching how to better software testing and professional software testers and groups. If you plan to test software professionally, a membership can jump start your career by providing you with the proper education tools and advice.
Membership comes at a price. To join for free, you receive very little benefits. Typically, you only receive a membership newsletter, community newsletters and occasional invitations to special events (most discounts do not apply). Depending on the association you choose to join, membership can start at $50 to $100 per year. You often have the option of joining for life, which in the case of the Association for Software Testing is 20 years, for a flat rate. Some associations offer discounts for age, such as AST's lifetime membership, which is $1275 for members under 30, but $425 for members over 60.
Even though you pay a membership fee, all benefits aren't free. You must still pay for travel to conferences in addition to a registration fee. You must also pay for hotel and other expenses occurred. In order to make the most of joining a software testing association, you will find yourself paying for training, such as classes and webinars. To fully network, you must also pay to go to conferences and meet-ups, which may or may not be local. Unless you are willing to devote time and money to the association and your own training, a software testing association is not for you.