How To Become a Software Tester (and Their Primary Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 29, 2022

Published March 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software testers play an important role in the quality assurance department of different companies and businesses. If you're hoping to pursue a software tester career, it can be beneficial to develop impressive analytical skills and knowledge of computer systems to ensure that programs are running efficiently and will meet customer expectations. In this article, we discuss what a software tester is, their primary responsibilities and give you a list of steps you can use to start a software tester career.

What is a software tester?

A software tester is an individual who uses their skills and expertise with computers to make sure certain computer programs operate as intended. They often work to ensure that all the software functions operate smoothly, no bugs are present in the final product and help identify any holes in the program's security. This can help companies and businesses provide a helpful product to consumers and protect the software from any cyber attacks. Software testers can perform their duties manually, or use coding and automated tools to help them test computer programs more efficiently.

What does a software tester do?

Here are some major responsibilities a software tester might perform during their workday:

  • Reviewing software requirements and creating test scenarios

  • Detecting and analyzing software defects or issues

  • Collaborating with a team of colleagues to develop efficient testing systems

  • Reporting major findings to senior managers and executives

  • Designing and creating automated testing systems using computer code

  • Interacting with clients to understand software or product requirements

  • Providing feedback and assistance with software design or function

How to become a software tester

Here is a list of steps you can follow to help you become a software tester:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

Though some companies and organizations might hire a software tester based on relevant experience and training, it can be beneficial to first earn an undergraduate degree in a relevant area, such as engineering, math or computer science. Depending on your desired area of study, you can better prepare for different aspects of a software testing career.

For example, if you choose to major in engineering, you can better understand the qualifications necessary for creating great consumer products and how to identify user friendly components of a program. However, if you choose to major in computer science, you can learn more efficient ways to develop computer software and possibly how to create your own testing programs or algorithms to make your job more efficient.

2. Learn how to code

No matter which degree you choose to obtain, it can be beneficial to learn more about computer coding to help you increase your occupational skills and easily identify certain challenges or issues with computer software. If you're hoping to gain more coding knowledge, consider finding courses online to help you or contact your local universities and community colleges to find a coding class or certification program to help you boost your credentials.

Related: A Beginner's Guide To Learning How To Code

3. Gain relevant experience

Gaining relevant experience can help you develop as a software tester and make your resume more noticeable to potential employers. Depending on which degree you pursued, there are different career paths you can follow to help you gain the right experience for a software testing position.

If you earned an engineering or math degree, consider searching for quality assurance or data analyst positions that can help you determine consumer needs and develop key analysis capabilities. If you earned a computer science degree, most jobs that give you the ability to work closely with computer programs or coding can help you earn influential relevant experience for the software testing career.

4. Earn certifications

Though certifications are not always necessary for a software testing career, there are two major certifications you can receive that can help you pursue the job:

  • International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) Tester: This credential is vendor-neutral, which means it teaches and tests the knowledge and skills used in many aspects of software testing. It's offered by the American Software Testing Qualifications Board, which also offers other certifications, including Advanced Security Tester and Advanced Test Analyst.

  • Certified Software Tester (CSTE): This certification often requires a bachelor's degree and two years of relevant experience, or six years of experience with no degree, to qualify for the test. The testing service then judges your comprehension of software testing capabilities, quality control and knowledge of the IT profession.

Related: What Are Certifications? Definition, Benefits, Types of Certifications and Examples

Skills

Here are a few skills that software testers often use throughout their career:

Analytical skills

Analytical skills are important for software testers because it can help them examine computer programs more closely and better identify certain challenges or bugs in the software. It also can help them develop suggestions or advise for clients on how to improve their programs and make them more user friendly.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Communication

Software testers often use communication skills in several ways throughout their career, including relaying important information to clients, discussing coding challenges with colleagues and understanding the goals or objectives of certain computer programs. Written communication can also be helpful for software testers when they generate testing reports to deliver to managers and company clients.

Organizational skills

Often, software testers will need to examine multiple software applications at a time and deliver reports on program issues or bugs by certain deadlines. That's why organizational skills can be very important for software testers to help them manage their time more efficiently, prioritize their work by deadlines and break down their daily responsibilities into helpful schedules and to-do lists.

Related: What Are Organizational Skills? (With Examples)

Knowledge of computer systems

Not only is it important for software testers to understand the key concepts of coding and programming, but it can also be important for them to have influential knowledge in computer databases, automation programs and test management tools. Having this knowledge can allow them to perform their job responsibilities more easily and help them become more noticeable to potential employers.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019, the average salary for software quality assurance analysts and testers is $107,510 per year. However, the top 10% of software testing individuals make over $164,000 annually.

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