If software testing sounds like something interesting, read this article to find out whether it’s a good career choice for you.
In this guide, we will:
- – explain what software testing is,
- – tell you more what a software tester does,
- – list the required technical and soft skills,
- – and finally – provide a step-by-step guide to becoming a software tester.
- Ready to explore the world of software testing? Let’s dive in!
What is software testing?
Software testing consists of a wide range of activities that aim to check whether the actual results of a software system match the expected ones. The other goal of software testing is ensuring that the solution is free of any bugs or defects. Software testing is essential for identifying errors, missing requirements, or requirement gaps. It can be either carried out manually or with the help of automated tools.
What does a software tester do?
Software testers play an essential role during application development. They are the Quality Assurance experts who test new digital products thoroughly to ensure they have no bugs, eliminate poor performance, and get rid of interface issues. To do this, testers perform various tests at different stages of the software lifecycle. Some examples of such tests are stress, performance, functional, scalability, or user acceptance. Since software testing is so critical to the quality and usability of the final product, testers are usually brought in at the early stages, such as planning and design. They remain involved throughout the process and later during support as well. Most testers work in development teams. Today, many software products are created following the DevOps methodology, which combines development and operations. In this methodology, development, testing, and delivery work in a continuous loop with the help of agile, lean, or Scrum frameworks and approaches. All in all, software testers make sure that the software looks good in the eyes of customers and works just as advertised.
Technical skills every software tester need
Here are the most important technical skills and hands-on experience you need to become a software tester.
- Basic knowledge of Linux commands – the vast majority of software applications (like application servers, databases, or web services) are deployed on Linux machines. That’s why it’s critical that testers have sufficient knowledge about Linux and its commands.
- Basic knowledge of databases and SQL – software systems usually operate with massive amounts of data in the background. Today, this data can be stored in different types of databases like MySQL or Oracle in the backend. Sometimes, as a software tester, you will have to validate this data. In that case, you will use SQL queries to check whether proper data is stored in your databases.
- Hands-on experience with test management tools – test management is a key aspect of software testing. You need to be equipped with proper test management techniques and tools. Otherwise, you risk that your testing process fails. Test management is all about managing your testing-related artifacts. For example, test management tools help to track all the test cases written by your team. Since most companies use such solutions, you need to know how to use them.
- Knowledge and experience in defect tracking tools – defect tracking and lifecycle are key aspects of software testing. It’s hard to manage and track defects properly if you don’t use the right tools. The entire team should be aware of the defects, including all of the project stakeholders. That’s why testers use special tools to lock defects such as Bugzilla or Jira.
Non-technical skills you need to become a software tester
These skills and capabilities are just as important as technical knowledge. They indicate whether you have the potential of becoming a good software tester or not.
- Analytical skills – it’s essential for software testers to have sharp analytical minds. You need to know how to break up a complex software system into smaller units and gain a better understanding of it in order to create test cases.
- Communication – a software tester needs to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. After all, you will be the one creating testing artifacts such as test cases, test plans, test strategies, bug reports, and many others. All of them need to be easy to read and understand. Moreover, you will be working with a development team. Dealing with developers when issues happen will require some diplomacy.
- Organizations and time management skills – testing can be a very demanding job, especially during the release. A tester needs to manage their workflow efficiently, be productive, and have outstanding time management skills to make it all work. You need to become an asset to your team, not someone who disrupts the work.
- The right attitude – to become a great software tester, you need to have the right attitude. We’re talking about things like an orientation to detail, willingness to learn, and proactive approach in suggesting process improvements. In the tech industry, technologies evolve at an ever-increasing speed. That’s why you need a degree of independence and ability to take ownership of the task allocated to you – and upgrade your skills to match the changing technology landscape.
- Passion for testing – to become great at any job, you need to be passionate about it. To determine whether you can like software testing if you’ve never tested before, just try it out. You will see whether the field seems exciting or you better switch to something else.
So, how do you become a software tester?
It all comes down to getting the right education and training. Employers looking for software testers don’t necessarily search for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. In fact, hands-on experience, technical skills, and certifications (for example, ones issued by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board) are far more important. Knowledge of scripting or coding isn’t necessary, but it will always be a great bonus for employers – and it might widen your job opportunities a lot. Let’s dive into the details now.
1. Learn how to code – programming is often the first step to becoming a software tester. After all, since you will be performing tests on software, you’d be far more effective if you could tell what the code means. You don’t need to have any programming experience at a commercial company to become a software tester. But it’s good to know a few things about programming. For example, software testers should know some programming concepts and fundamentals like the basics of architecture, algorithms, object-oriented programming, etc. You should also know how to read code in various languages and have a high-level understanding of several. Since programming languages rise and fall, knowing the fundamentals is essential – they work across different languages.
2. Learn the particulars of software testing – the next step is learning what software testing is all about. You need to know everything about all the different types of testing, what testers use them for, how to run tests and determine the result, and how to create test reports. If you’re a software developer, you probably learned about this at a high level. As a software tester, you need to have more in-depth knowledge. Most of the time, this is the gist of an online course about software testing from an experienced and qualified provider.
3. Learn performance testing – performance testing is a key area where you need to learn not only the concepts but also the tools. When learning to become a software tester, you can enhance the experience with performance testing tools. If you don’t have access to them, you can always get trials and then train using them to get the hang of performance testing.
4. Learn automated testing – your next step is learning more about the concepts of automated testing. Automated testing is based on manual tests that have been running originally and putting them into a tool that runs them automatically. This is a very effective approach if you need to run a lot of similar tests. If you don’t have access to automation tools, it’s something you will learn on the job or during your online course.
Become a software tester
According to the data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for computer systems analysts (including software testers) is rising by 9%, much above average. Software testing has a bright future in front of it as an increasing number of companies are investing in the development of digital products. All of these products will have to be thoroughly tested before they’re released on the market. If you’d like to learn more about software testing, check out our online courses. They explore the ins and outs of software testing practices and tools used by companies today.