A discussion that often arises during conferences, on twitter and different blogs is the approach to learning - what is the "right way" to learn, and what is the wrong way? Is certification the evil of all times, or is it okay, should we learn about testing by reading books about flying hot air ballons or should we do a TMap or ISTQB training?
I can't answer that question - i don't have "best practice", but I can tell you a bit about how I learn. In order to do that a few words about my background:
- highschool (I survivied - didn't exactly excell :-))
- 9 years in the airforce as corporal
- 17 years in Systematic as tester, test manager, test architect and last program test manager
- 2 years as consultant in Sogeti Denmark
- scout (not currently active)
- creative, love using my hands
- love interacting with other people with the same interests as me
- read books about testing... or fantasy... sometimes
- ISEB foundation
- ISEB practitioner
- Certified scrum master
- Certified CAT trainer
- TPI foundation
- TMap Test engineer
- BUsiness driven test management
- Test management training with SQE
- and probably others over the years ;-)
I participate in networks in Denmark when I have time. Sharing knowledge, giving some to others and getting a lot back. And that is also what I love about the conferences, not just the track sessions, but all the discussions in the breaks and in the evenings - I grow and learn from every meeting with new practitioners.
I read books. That is; I attempt to read books but lack time. My library is always growing and I always bring home an extended list of books when I have been together with other testers. I don't always read the entire book, there might be parts that catches my eyes and others that doesn't sound too interesting - some books I buy but never get to read! (an example; how to test SAP... I thought I really needed to learn but I never got around to read it, it's just standing there).
I read blogs. Not as many and as often as I would love to - time is still a factor here. But I try to read regularly. And from twitter I get pointed in the direction of interesting blogs all the time.
I do other things than testing! yep I said it, my life is so many other things than testing - and I prioritize to have a full life with people I love, doing other things that I also love and more than anything else... have fun.
A long story but what is it really I am trying to say: I honestly don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to learn, I will not fuss about certifications being the evil of all time or the best of all - ask your self -what is the best way for you to learn. If you cannot stand the thought of going to formal training and get certificed... then don't. If you think that is the best way for you to get started, then by all means go. The main thing is that you find out what works for you, no one else should tell you how to learn - you know best. But don't justt just do ONE thing - there are many channels of learning and I think we should use as many as possible to get as diverse an approach to testing as possible.