Stephen Bickerstaff RITTech MBCS

Stephen Bickerstaff RITTech MBCS, explains why he joined and explains how this has supported his development in his testing career path.

Stephen is a Lead Test Analyst at the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) working in Enterprise Digital Development (EDD). EDD sits within Digital Shared Services (DSS) and provides an in-house digital, data and technology capability for the development and support of bespoke digital services.

After working as a developer and senior developer for 8 years, working with legacy and agile development, in January 2019 Stephen decided on a career change. He switched specialisms becoming a Senior Test Analyst in EDD's Test team.

How did you find out about BCS membership?

For years I had attended various BCS Northern Ireland Branch events in Belfast City Centre, so I was aware of BCS and what they did, but never got around to joining.  I had received Associate membership after completing a BCS course, and then in 2019 Digital Shared Services (DSS) started an organisational membership scheme. I applied for the opportunity for membership via the DSS Scheme Coordinator and subsequently received Professional membership status (MBCS).


What have been the benefits of BCS membership?

BCS, is the recognised UK Professional Body for the tech profession and have specialist groups you can join and then you receive invites to events and conferences. I’ve signed up to:

• Software Testing
• DevSecOps

Being a member of BCS, you also get regular newsletters, IT industry news updates informing you what is happening in the wider IT sector.

I was also eligible to apply for and achieve professional registration on the Register for IT Technicians (RITTech). This is a standard designed to recognise the talents of IT technicians; as someone who applies their technical knowledge and skills in an IT work environment with confident competence, and who shows professional behaviours whilst doing so.


What qualifications have you achieved?

Over the years I've been supported by EDD to attend multiple BCS courses across the software development lifecycle, such as Business Analysis, Requirements Engineering and Foundation Software Testing. I’ve previously completed security training as a certified ethical hacker and secure programmer, though the certification has now expired, and I also hold Professional Scrum Master Level 1 qualification.

With moving into the Software Testing specialism, I wanted to enhance my knowledge of this field.  BCS has a certification pathway for software testing. Having formerly completed my ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing while working in software development, I wanted to take this understanding to the next level. The BCS software testing certification pathway, in collaboration with global partner ISTQB®, recognised my already completed learning and supported progression in the software testing industry. A couple of months before lockdown I attained the ISTQB Advanced Level Technical Test Analyst (CTAL) and in February 2022 I passed my ISTQB Advanced Level Test Analyst (CTAL).

This has allowed me to provide a higher level of testing services to our customers and further assist in the implementation of a high quality Test Service within EDD.


What would you say to other ICT staff who may be considering BCS membership?

With IT being a small community within the NICS, I think it's useful to be part of a broader group of IT professionals. BCS has a lot of resources available and the membership has given me a career path to focus on, and targets to develop myself technically in software testing. The courses and exams can be tough sometimes, but I think they're well worth the effort. At events and courses, you get to meet with others in the industry, based both locally and sometimes internationally and build up a network of contacts in the same technical specialism.


What do you plan to do next?

I am currently on the Register for IT Technicians (RITTech) which is aimed at ICT level 3 grade.  Following my promotion to ICT5 Lead Test Analyst role just at the start of lockdown, I'm now looking at applying for Chartered IT Professional (CITP) status - the independent standard of competence and professionalism in the tech industry.

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BCS has provided me with SFIAplus, a development tool I used during my early career goals. The access to webinars and local events has been invaluable.

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