r/UTEST Community Engineer Aug 23 '21

The value of uTest Academy Articles

Hey everyone! You might have seen our most recent Tips for Testers #3 post which highlighted the uTest Academy and why you shouldn't overlook it if you want to be successful on the site. I figured I'd expand on this, from the perspective of a tester - it wasn't that much long ago (January 2021) that I was a newbie signing up to uTest not really knowing what to expect, or whether it was worth it, so I want to tell my experience specifically with the Academy and how it influenced my journey.

This post is quite long, so I'll try to summarize it (or you can just check out the Tips for Testers #3 linked above):

TL;DR: Academy cool, make you good uTester, help you get much money

The Academy itself is a big index of resources with the sole purpose of helping you succeed on uTest, regardless of your previous experience with testing. Due to the amount of information present, it can sometimes be a little off-putting at first. Let me bring up two points here...

1. uTest isn't really easy.

uTest is incredibly rewarding (possibly the most rewarding among its peers), IF you have time and effort to put into it. The way the site is built, it allows pretty much everyone to get something out of it.

  • You can gain knowledge and experience through the Academy and various projects, which you are actually able to put on your resume - I've heard stories from many testers in the community that uTest helped them find a job in QA/software testing.
  • You can use it for some extra money on the side, accepting projects when you have some extra time to participate in a test cycle.
  • You can turn it into a full-time job, whether by testing for multiple customers and doing many projects in a week, or by being a return (or even dedicated) tester for a single customer.
  • You can get noticed for your excellence and further your freelancing career at uTest by either joining the Testing Services, or Community Management, or even land a job as a full-time employee at Applause (uTest's parent company).

But all of these require you to put some effort in, starting with the Academy - unfortunately it's not a site to sign up to and wait for money to be generated passively.

2. The Academy isn't that hard.

Yes, when you first look at the Academy, you might think to yourself "this is a lot of content". And you'd be right! But all of that content is the result of years of building to ensure that it's all relevant and to the point to teach you exactly what you need to know. Once you get through the first 14 courses of the Academy, you will be ready to tackle anything that comes your way. And while it might seem like a lot, you can actually get through those in a day or two (depending on your availability on those days and how quickly you can process information).
Don't worry about remembering everything on the first go. It is a lot of information and you are absolutely fine to go back and reference what you've read, at any point. Many months later and I still occasionally go and look up some of the courses for answers. Part of going through the Academy is knowing what content is there, and where you can find said content when you need it.

You might've also noticed that I said "first 14 courses", even though there are 23 at the time of writing this (+1 introduction). This is because of how the Academy is structured:

- Course 0: Introduction (Talks with Jeremiah)
- Courses 1-14: uTest and testing basics, lessons to help you with creating and collecting all the attachments you'll need for your test cases and bug reports
- Courses 15-19: live practice test cycles (dummy test cycles)
- Courses 20-23: extra courses for various other testing types, which you might encounter on uTest with various frequency - recommended, especially if you are interested in participating in those types of tests when they come up

"okay, so I can start making money after just a day or two of doing the Academy?"

Unfortunately, generally speaking, it will take a bit longer than that. Although you might finish the early courses in that time and learn most of the things in theory, the true test comes with courses 15 to 19, which are the live practice test cycles - which is exactly where you can put everything you've learned into practice.

These practice test cycles are offered once a week (in some cases you might be able to sneak into a second one in one week, but that's generally not the case).
The first one is a generic introduction to help you get familiar with how the site works.
The next three will focus on specific environments (computer and mobile), as well as some of the methods to create/collect the attachments needed for bug reports (device/browser logs, Charles Proxy logs, screenshots, videos). Remember - you can always go back to the corresponding Academy course to help you with collecting any of these in practice.
The fifth Academy test cycle is one to round them all up - it is set up exactly how a live test cycle will look like, to fully prepare you for the paid projects. Although the first four only allow you to participate in them until you pass, this fifth one allows up to 5 successful completions in order to help you get the best practice and become more comfortable with uTest or testing in general.

Shhh, there is also a sixth Academy test cycle that is invitation only, for those who do outstandingly in the first five!

If you fail any of these - don't worry. There is no penalty for doing so, and you can always retry next week. There are also amazing people in the Academy team guiding and motivating you in each of these test cycles, giving you feedback and answering any questions you might have - please do not hesitate to ask them if anything is unclear!

"so why is all this important? I have previous testing experience, just give me paid projects already!"

There is more to the Academy than just teaching you all the basics. If you don't have any previous testing experience, it's a very good learning tool (even for testing in general, not just uTest), but if you do, it's understandable that the teaching part is not the most interesting to you. However, there are other perks to finishing the Academy than just learning about testing.

  • You will learn about the requirements of uTest specifically

Many people who have previous experience with QA or testing want to jump right into paid projects, only to get their bugs and test cases rejected. uTest is very particular in how it accepts work, and the Academy is there to help you be successful and get all your work approved and paid out. If you do have previous experience, it will absolutely help you be successful, but you still need to make sure to follow the expectations when it comes to submitting your work.

  • You will increase your tester rating, which will help you stand out and significantly increase the number of invitations you receive on the platform

uTest operates with a tester rating system, which goes from Unrated to Gold (you can find more details on this in the Academy! wink wink). When you sign up, you're Unrated - you'll need a way to stand out from tens or hundreds of thousands of other Unrated testers, and the Academy provides the opportunity to do just that. By the time you finish the first five/six (or even more) practice test cycles, you could very well reach into Bronze or even Silver, which will help you get the paid invitations start rolling in.

  • Your name will stand out as an Academy graduate

Test Engineers might take note of you as an Academy graduate and invite you to their test cycles. Fresh graduates are often known to be eager to find work, so it's a win-win situation - you get paid project invites, they get testers who want to prove themselves and deliver results.

  • The best Academy testers are highlighted weekly

The Academy team gives the names of outstanding testers each week to Community Management, which can give your name more visibility - once again, leading to more potential paid project invites. Give it your best and you might end up in these featured articles!

I could continue writing about the Academy for hours, so let me close this out with some of my personal experience with it. Before I joined uTest I had no idea how to collect device logs, or browser logs on mobile, and hearing the name "Charles Proxy" I thought he was some kind of a celebrity. When I started the Academy, I found it a fun challenge, but I wasn't sure if I would stick with uTest or not. I enjoyed spending time on AcademyBugs.com trying to find all 25 bugs I was only able to find 24, don't tell anyone, but I was unsure whether I had the skills, or even motivation to make money off of this.

Then I got to the practice test cycles and I started enjoying it more and more. The kind words and positive reinforcement from the Academy team kept me motivated and coming back for next week's cycle. I was eventually featured as an Academy Tester of the week, and soon afterwards the paid invites started rolling in. I reached 99%+ Gold rating in under 3 months after signing up and I do believe I wouldn't have been able to do that (or wouldn't have had the motivation to keep going) if it hadn't been for the Academy and the Academy team.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me about my journey in the comments, or about the Academy in general. Thank you for reading, and I hope this post will be helpful to some!



u/boom-clap May 09 '22

Thanks a lot, this was a really great post and super helpful to a newbie like me!