How To Become a Software Tester
Who’s the Sherlock Holmes of the software industry? This role requires a good eye, a lot of patience, and a deductive mind. Their job is to make sure that the software built by developers runs according to the client’s requirements.
A Software Tester’s Typical Day
Even though the daily tasks of manual and automation testers differ, there are many touch points in their day-to-day. Those who have just started their adventure in the IT industry might have very few responsibilities, and their presence might not be necessary at meetings.
Meetings - Most software companies use the Agile methodology, which relies on specific meetings and cycles called sprints. Sprints usually last two weeks, and they're set off by a planning meeting, followed by a refinement meeting, and rounded up by the review and retrospective meetings. The development teams meet daily to discuss what they've been working on the day before, what they'll be working on that day, and if anything is blocking them. Testers need to attend most of these meetings to stay in the loop of the product's development.
Finding Bugs - The primary job of testers is to locate and report bugs. They're the first line of feedback for developers once they produce new lines of code. Without testers, buggy software could be shipped to end users who could become skeptical about the quality of the entire product and lose trust in the company producing it.
Stay Updated - A tester must stay updated on the latest product changes. Whether through meetings or correspondence, they're required to stay in the loop by scanning their emails and tasks regularly, as well as monitoring the status of the bugs they reported. Once they're fixed, they need to recheck them and resend a ticket to the dev team if the problem still exists.
Testing - Testing can be generally divided into two groups: functional and non-functional. The former includes four main types: unit, integration, system, and acceptance testing. On the other hand, the latter comprises security, compatibility, performance, and usability testing. Each of these groups is further divided into more tests that make no software tester's day like the other. At the beginning of the sprint, the dev team has just begun crunching their tasks, leaving space for the tester to do some exploratory and accessibility testing. The middle and end of the sprint are reserved for all other types of testing, such as regression, compatibility, stress, visual, and smoke tests.
Difference Between Software Testers and QA Engineers
Testing and quality assurance (QA for short) are often used as synonyms. If you're trying to land a job in the tech industry, you should know the main differences between these two job posts.
|Software Tester||QA Engineer|
Involved at the end of the development process
Involved throughout the entire development process
Making sure all errors and mistakes are found
Making sure no errors and mistakes are made
Focused on checking if the produced software works properly
Focused on the overall product quality
Keep an eye on code modules and processes
Verify if the software meets the defined quality standards or customer agreements
Many people try to become software testers and for good reason. The average base salary for this position is $67,810 per year, according to Glassdoor, and $56,468, according to PayScale. We've also explored the wages of similar job posts.
Becoming a Software Tester: Get Started
If you're interested in becoming part of the IT industry, becoming a tester might be one of the quickest ways to enter it. A bachelor's degree in computer science or related fields is a plus, but those without it can also start their career as software testers.
A Software Tester’s Career Path
It's fairly easy to get into the testing career, and people say you can get promoted quickly to a higher position.
You'll start as a testing trainee, so don't expect big bucks immediately. In a year or less, depending on your skills, you'll become a software tester and get the chance to learn much more about code and work more closely with the development team. Then, it's time to become a QA analyst or software test engineer.
You might be promoted to a QA team coordinator if you show leadership and communication skills. They're essential for leading and managing a team of testers, many of whom are only beginners. In time, you could end up as a test manager.
The good side of this career is a high promotion rate. Only a few years could pass between being a trainee and becoming a team lead. But here's the catch: it becomes tough to advance any higher after a certain point and a year in this job post is less valuable than that in development.
Unfortunately, testers are considered second-class citizens in the software industry, even though they provide valuable information and feedback. Many testers switch to a career in software development which can pay off more in the long run.
Testers use a broad palette of tools to make sure the product is bug-free on every device and browser before its release to end users. Whether they're testing software manually or creating programs that run various tests, the list of the apps they typically use is quite long.
Hiring a Software Tester
Company owners might ask themselves whether hiring software testers is really necessary. Here's a related question: would you prefer to fix bugs before releasing a new version of your app or after your users notice them? It's easy to think developers should test their own code, but in reality, there's so much more than just making sure it runs well. Development teams often won't have the time to test all new software versions on every device and every possible browser a customer will use. Also, they won't be able to focus as much on their user experience or notice if there are any typos. Not only will they do the job partially, but they'll also waste valuable time that could be invested in developing software and shipping new versions faster.
Although it seems like a paradox, hiring a software tester will help you build software faster and cheaper. Finding bugs and app malfunctions immediately doesn't let them evolve into more significant issues that are harder to solve. If a serious problem isn't addressed right away, developers will keep working until they find themselves blocked, and the only way to move forward is to take many steps back. To avoid this scenario, companies hire software testers and QA engineers who will ensure no such mistakes are made.
Now that we've covered why you need testers in the first place let's go over what you should be looking for in an employee. Searching for the right candidate has its challenges, but the tech industry is relatively straightforward, and technical skills often take the lead. Look for certificates and experience in the resume. If you're not sure, ask around about the quality of the courses and certifications. You can also request recommendation letters from previous employers if there are any.
Personal skills are important for this role, too. The ideal candidate should be communicative and open to cooperation as they'll need to work closely with the dev and design teams. Attention to detail is paramount for this job because if testers overlook any mistakes, the users will certainly find them.
Software companies aren't the only ones that need testers. Marketing agencies that develop websites or apps should also hire someone who will test whether the site functions properly on all browsers and devices. This includes checking all the buttons, menus, and the overall user experience.