A Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Software Tester
Software testers play a serious role in application development. They are quality assurance experts who put applications through the wringer to root out bugs, poor performance, and funky interface problems. To do this they run all tests – stress, scalability, functional, performance, user acceptance – at different stages of the software lifecycle. Because testing is important to the quality, testers are brought in at the development stage and remain involved throughout the post-release support.
Testers work on groups that develop vendor software. A Software is pushed through DevOps teams, where development, testing, and delivery are on a loop using the Agile, Lean Scrum or frameworks.
The software tester is a silent hero of the development projects. They save users from working with buggy software that just doesn’t work well, greatly decreasing tech support calls from unsatisfied customers. They also make the development team and the vendor looks good in the eyes of customers.
Important Education, Background, and Skills for Software Testers
Most of the employers look for software tester applicants with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, math although it’s not always mandatory. If you’ve got a lot of experience, a stable work history and solid references or letters of recommendation, it’s possible to land a job without a college degree. An intermediate-level position requires three to six years of experience in software testing or some combination of education and experience.
Regardless of how you prepare for a software testing career, here are the abilities you should have or plan to develop:
- Form and document automated and manual test plans and processes, execute tests, analyze results and report on test difficulties and anomalies (document bugs)
- Perform software testing in all segments of the design-develop-test-release-maintain software life cycle.
- Understand several development methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum, and platforms.
- Possess thorough knowledge of numerous testing tools.
- Be fluent in UNIX, Linux and/or Windows, as well as scripting and command-line tools.
- Be a multi-tasker.
- Be an exceptional communicator (written and verbal) with development, operations, product management and customers.
Some positions necessitate programming skills and an understanding of databases. You don’t need years of programming experience to be a tester, but that wouldn’t hurt a bit.
Software testers should consider getting one or more certifications to prove their mettle and get the attention of managers. Most tester certifications are vendor-neutral and recognize knowledge applicable across all aspects of software testing. Here are the two most popular software tester certifications:
- ISTQB Certified Tester: The American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) offers the vendor-neutral ISTQB Certified Testercredential at the Foundation and Expert levels. ASTQB also offers Agile Tester, Advanced Test Analyst, Advanced Security Tester, and Advanced Technical Test Analyst certifications, among others aimed at mobile app testing, test automation engineers, test managers and business analysts.
- Certified Software Tester (CSTE): The International Software Certification Board (ISCB) supports eight certifications for software testing, quality reassurance, and business analysis. In addition to passing a certification exam, the CSTE necessitates (1) a bachelor’s degree and 2 years of experience in information services, (2) a two-year degree and four years of experience or (3) six years of experience. Plus, you must prove you’ve worked in software testing within the last 18 months. If you don’t meet CSTE work experience necessities, opt for the Certified Associate in Software Testing as a starting point.
Vendor-specific or platform-specific software development certifications are abundant, but it’s harder to find vendor-specific credentials that emphasis on testing.
Software tester training and resources
Candidates interested in software tester training can take advantage of some free starter courses available online. Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) offers several relevant courses, such as Software Testing Fundamentals, Testing PowerShell with Pester and Live Unit Testing in Visual Studio 2017. And the ASTQB website has a New To Software Testing page that includes its glossary of software testing terms in PDF download and online searchable formats, as well as sample ISTQB exam questions.
Interested candidates should also check out the Association for Software Testing (AST) website. The site is full of resources, including a link to the AST YouTube channel, which features webinars and keynote presentations from the group’s annual conference. The International Institute for Software Testing (IIST) lets anyone sign up for interactive and on-demand webinars, and live seminars in select U.S. cities when available.
If you’re willing to pay for training, head back to the AST site to read about the four-week Black Box Software Testing course, and then follow the link to see other AST courses on test design, bug advocacy and so on. Udemy’s QA Software Testing Training Course has 27 hours of on-demand videos. At $100, it’s a bargain, and sometimes it costs as little as $15. Lynda.com, a well-known subscription-based service, has several testing courses as does Pluralsight.
You’ll find plenty of other software testing courses and boot camps by doing a quick search on the web.
Surveying software-tester opportunities
PayScale says the average salary of a software tester is about $55,000, but it can climb much higher depending on the company and city.
Like any other career, getting started generally means spending time on job boards like Monster, Indeed, Dice and LinkedIn Jobs. Consider posting your resume on each site, and be sure to set up alerts to be notified of new software testing and quality assurance job listings so you can apply right away. Once your resume is online, you’ll probably be contacted by recruiters with inside opportunities at companies that don’t necessarily advertise. And if you want to work for a specific company, cruise its online job board regularly and reach out to HR to make a contact.
Take advantage of free resources like LinkedIn software tester groups, Reddit, and other forums and online communities. They can be great sources of information about good/bad employers, which tools you should learn and leads to jobs.