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How to start a career at IT and get $70–100K a year from the very beginning

Job Market
Jan 09, 2020
How to start a career at IT and get $70–100K a year from the very beginning

Max Glubochansky won a green card in the lottery and came to San Francisco in 2013, at the age of 26. He chose California, because he knew that there were the highest salaries. There were a lot of technological companies around, but Max was into humanities and had neither experience in IT nor the wish to study it.

That’s why he enrolled in the testing course, where he was promised to study a speciality that would give him $70 000 a year.

“It sounded like a flimflam, but I decided to take a risk, the salaries were so high”, Max tells. 

The course cost $3 500. 

Just three months after Max finished the course, he got his first job as Quality Assurance Engineer or QA (it is a way they call a tester) at the biggest shopping channel QVC. But he was paid only 30$/h. Unfortunately, the school where Max studied didn’t prepare him well to get a high salary immediately. 

“I tested a website, checked the functionality and design, surfed the pages and checked if the links worked, if the pictures were of the right size and so on. I expected them to teach me and show anything. But they didn’t. I tried to get some experience and knowledge, but they didn’t entrust me anything”, Max describes his first job. 

At the same time he was not so busy and most of the day played chess with the developers. So Max decided to find another job whatever it took. Fortunately, he had advanced friends who trained him in testing and getting more skills for effective job search. 

He submitted the resume on the websites,, and recruiters started to call him. 

The first phone interview seemed to be very easy, Max was asked something like “Tell about yourself”, “How do you write a bug report?”. Then he was invited to the interview onsite at the employer’s office. And some hours later Max got a job offer for 30$/h at the company which worked with an app and website for the car manufacturer Toyota.

Max agreed, but was very surprised to be chosen. 

“Besides you, I had the same five clowns with the same resume and the same answers, but you were the most smiling”, told him his future colleague and boss, a Chinese. 

Three months later Max told his employer that he got an offer for 35$/h from another company. Although it wasn’t really the truth, but the trick worked and he got promoted.   

How sushi brought Max to Apple with the salary $100 000 a year

“I rented a room in San Francisco for $800 a month and felt that life was great. But then I had an interview at another company and there I was offered $80 000 a year, 10$ year bonus, a vacation, benefits, medical insurance, pension, three meals a day and an open bar! Moreover, there were rooms for meditation, sleeping and games”, describes Max his new employer Ooyala, the platform for videos like YouTube. 

And again Max didn’t exert himself a lot. “I don’t remember working very much. On Fridays I left at 1 p.m. Honestly speaking, I could handle everything almost always in an hour or an hour and a half a day, not eight hours. There were beautiful parks near the office where I often had a walk. My friends from Google came there to eat, because our food was tastier. Everything was perfect till a company from Australia bought that office. ANd new employers didn’t know what to do”, tells Max. 

Everything changed with the fact when they canceled a sushi day, which was once a week previously. 

“That’s too much! People started to leave, thinking that the company did not have a bright future”, Max describes that tragicomedy.

He left too and took a half-year trip around Europe. Having come back, he continued his QA career in Apple, Intel and other companies. 

“I didn’t have sushi anymore, the food was awful. And they even required to work for that food! 

But I earned 50$/h at Apple ($100 000 a year). 

And note that it’s a very simple job to be a usual manual tester, who just presses the buttons according to a written scenario. What is more I had a lot of time for other projects”, tells Glubochansky. 

Those who have ambitions can develop more and get much more. You can become a testers’ team lead or study automation testing. 

According to a popular job search service Indeed, the salary in the manual testing sphere in the USA varies from $53 000 to $134 000 a year for a Quality Assurance Engineer. An average salary for Software Test Engineer is $99 512. Managers and specialists of automation testing earn even more. 

“But not everyone needs to study management and automation. I did easy work. I wanted to get a good salary and not to have a headache, if only I got much time for other projects and private life” explains Max.

Why is such an easy job well-paid in America and not transferred to outsource? The IT-industry in the USA is growing very fast and so is the demand for testers. Mistakes in programs can lead to million losses, that’s why they have a budget for a good payment for testers’ work. Moreover, if a department has a budget and does not spend it, the next year it will not get money.   

Careerist is a school where he himself wanted to study at

If becoming a QA-manager seemed to Max to be too much of a headache, then he was always happy to train and help his acquaintances get a job as testers. And soon he began to do this most of the time.

Then Glubochansky thought a bit and decided to open his own school of testers Careerist with two partners, “the one in which we ourselves would like to study”.

Max himself began to teach the courses at and found three more teachers (all from California) with an impressive set of experience (in addition, they also hire people!):

  • Natalya Atif (QA lead with over 9 years of experience at Intel, Apple) provides introductory knowledge and talks about writing test cases.
  • Lana Levinson (7 years of experience in all areas of manual and automation testing) is responsible for getting you ready to go through the interviews and know the “tools”, i.e. the testing tools (such as Jira, Xcode, Android Studio).

Max himself finished a school of testers and knew flaws. “They taught me to look for work for $60 000 - 70 000 a year, but could for more money! In addition, there was a lot of “water” and unnecessary theory and information, there was not enough basic knowledge to go through interviews and internships”, recalls Max.

In addition, studying at that school in Silicon Valley cost almost $ 5 000 and required a personal presence, and you should waste a lot of time and money on the ride. Careerist decided to fix these flaws and made a program that has no analogues:

  • 50 hours of intensive trainings in 4 weeks, all classes are in the evenings and online (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in California or at 9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.  in New York). If you missed one, there is a record of it.
  • Individual approach. No water or unnecessary theory. Just what you need in order to get a job and successfully do it.
  • Internship at any time - even immediately after the third lesson! Thanks to this, you will enter the market as a mid-level specialist with an excellent base, and not as a beginner.
  • You pay only after getting a job (the teachers are so confident in the success of you as a student and in their methodology). If you didn’t find a job as a tester, do not pay nothing more than the registration fee of $695. And even it can be paid only after three free lessons.
  • Help with preparing a resume, a profile on LinkedIn, including keywords so that algorithms fall in love with you and you are at the top of the list of candidates - the school staff themselves post profiles for students on job search websites so that recruiters call a lot! At special lessons and during individual consultations they will also teach answers to the questions that are asked in the interview. The school is financially interested in you finding a job soon!

Careerist charges students 15% of the monthly salary during 2 years after employment (conditions are valid on 12 February 2021). Those who wish can pay $2 999 upfront and do not worry later.

Max and other teachers are only interested in serious candidates, so all potential students are interviewed. Requirements: at least an intermediate level of English and a work permit, as well as the ability to learn. Age does not play a role - at the school there were students both 50 and 18 years old.

How to look for a tester job (Software Quality Assurance Engineer)

“You can bring any street cleaner - and (if he does not drink) he can become a tester. This is a simple profession - it’s important to have communication skills, the ability to smile, and the ability to learn. Because it is important for developers and managers to get pleasure working with you! Well, at the interview it’s important not to look like you need a job desperately - stay confident (we teach this too)”, advises Max.

Based on his own successful experience, he and other teachers encourage, advise, and correct you every day during the lessons and individual consultations.

At the beginning, of course, you need to make a good resume.

The initial filtering is most often done not by people, but by algorithms.

Therefore, it’s important to use the right keywords in your resume. This is also taught at the lessons of Careerist and at personal consultations.

Many job positions require you to have work experience, but having the right presentation of your internship and previous experience, you will be a very worthy candidate. “And even those positions where it is written that a tester needs knowledge of automation and programming languages ​, in most cases this is not true, because these are already requirements for the programmer, and for 40$/h he will not take this position. Therefore, it is worthwhile to understand that it’s most likely that the recruiter made a “copy-paste” from some other position, and you need to submit and not to hesitate, even if your profile corresponds at least 50% to the description of the position. Let the recruiter decide whether to filter you or not, this is his job, not yours”, he says.

The first call is often not from the company itself, but from a recruiter from an agency that is most likely not located in the USA, but in India, and speaks with a strong accent. Recruiters do the mechanical filtering of candidates and do not really know the specifics of the position, and simply have to make sure that you are not dumb, have a work permit, know something about the profession and agree to a certain hourly rate. Then they will transfer you to the company itself, which will invite you to an interview call, and if you pass it, it will already be an interview at the office. There, the conversation can last up to three hours, different people will interview you, and in case of a successful completion you can expect a job offer in a few days (sometimes weeks).

In addition, after finishing the course, Max and other teachers meet with students in person (if they are in San Francisco), or online (if you are in another city), analyze situations, correct mistakes, and bring students who got a job, so that they share their experience. Of course, no one charges any additional payment for this - due to its model, the school is financially interested in students getting a job and getting as much as possible.


At Careerist, we tried to create a dream school that we ourselves once wanted to get into, but could not find such important and necessary knowledge. Based on our mistakes, we created a solution that will help to avoid wasting time and focus on what is really needed: going through an interview, getting a job and the work itself.

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