Software Testing as a Career Path: Tester Skills, Salary & Growth
This guide will take you through the In's and outs of software testing. If you plan to make a career in software testing, this is a MUST READ!
Software Testing is a process of verifying a computer system/program to decide whether it meets the specified requirements and produces the desired results. As a result, you identify bugs in software product/project.
Software Testing is indispensable to provide a quality product without any bug or issue.
In this tutorial, you will learn-
- What is Software Testing?
- Skills required to become a Software Tester
- Non-Technical Skills
- Technical Skills
- Academic Background
- What Does a Software Tester do?
- Software Tester Career Path
- Alternate Career Tracks as a Software Tester
- Common Myths
- How to Become Software Tester
- Certification Exams:
We will discuss the Technical and Non-Technical required to become a Software Tester
Following skills are essential to become a good Software quality tester. Compare your skill set against the following checklist to determine whether Software Testing is a reality for you-
- Analytical skills: A good software tester should have sharp analytical skills. Analytical skills will help break up a complex software system into smaller units to gain a better understanding and create test cases. Not sure that you have good analytical skills - Refer this link - if you can solve at least ONE problem you have excellent analytical skills.
- Communication skill: A good software tester must have good verbal and written communication skill. Testing artifacts (like test cases/plans, test strategies, bug reports, etc.) created by the software tester should be easy to read and comprehend. Dealing with developers (in the event of bugs or any other issue) will require a shade of discreetness and diplomacy.
- Time Management & Organization Skills: Testing at times could be a demanding job especially during the release of code. A software tester must efficiently manage workload, have high productivity, exhibit optimal time management, and organization skills
- GREAT Attitude: To be a good software tester you must have a GREAT attitude. An attitude to 'test to break', detail orientation, willingness to learn and suggest process improvements. In the software industry, technologies evolve with an overwhelming speed, and a good software tester should upgrade his/her technical Software testing skills with the changing technologies. Your attitude must reflect a certain degree of independence where you take ownership of the task allocated and complete it without much direct supervision.
- Passion: To Excel in any profession or job, one must have a significant degree of the passion for it. A software tester must have a passion for his / her field. BUT how do you determine whether you have a passion for software testing if you have never tested before? Simple TRY it out and if software testing does not excite you switch to something else that holds your interest.
This list is long, so please bear with us
- Basic knowledge of Database/ SQL: Software Systems have a large amount of data in the background. This data is stored in different types of databases like Oracle, MySQL, etc. in the backend. So, there will be situations when this data needs to be validated. In that case, simple/complex SQL queries can be used to check whether proper data is stored in the backend databases.
- Basic knowledge of Linux commands: Most of the software applications like Web-Services, Databases, Application Servers are deployed on Linux machines.So it is crucial for testers to have knowledge about Linux commands.
- Knowledge and hands-on experience of a Test Management Tool:Test Management is an important aspect of Software testing. Without proper test management techniques, software testing process will fail. Test management is nothing but managing your testing related artifacts.
For example - A tool like Testlink can be used for tracking all the test cases written by your team.
There are other tools available that can be utilized for Test Management. So, it is important to have knowledge and working experience of such tools because they are used in most of the companies.
- Knowledge and hands-on experience of any Defect Tracking tool- Defect Tracking and Defect life cycle are key aspects of software testing. It is extremely critical to managing defects properly and track them in a systematic manner. Defect tracking becomes necessary because the entire team should know about the defect including managers, developers, and testers. Several tools are used to log defects including QC, Bugzilla, Jira, etc.
- Knowledge and hands-on experience of Automation tool: If you see yourself as an "Automation tester" after a couple of years working on manual testing, then you must master a tool and get in-depth, hands-on knowledge of automation tools.
There is also a lot of scope for performance testing tools because applications need to be tested for their performance which is a part of non-functional testing.
That's it to technical knowledge. Please note you do not need ALL the technical skills listed above. The technical skill sets required vary with the Job Role and company processes.
Academic background of a software tester should be in Computer Science.
A BTech/ B.E., MCA, BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications), BSc- Computers, will land you a job quickly.
If you do not hold any of these degrees, then you must complete a software testing certification like ISTQB and CSTE which help you learn Software Development/ Test Life Cycle and other testing methodologies.
Compensation of a software tester varies from company to company. Average salary range of a software tester in the US is $45,993 - $74,935. Average Software testing career package in India is Rs 247,315 - Rs 449,111.
Also, a software tester is also given health insurance, bonuses, gratuity and other perks.
On any typical work day, you will be busy understanding requirement documents, creating test cases, executing test cases, reporting and re-testing bugs, attending review meetings and other team building activities.
Your Software Testing career growth as a software tester (QA Analyst) in typical CMMI level 5 company will look like following but will vary from company to company
- QA Analyst (Fresher)
- Sr. QA Analyst (2-3 years' experience)
- QA Team Coordinator (5-6 years' experience)
- Test Manager (8-11 years' experience)
- Senior Test Manager (14+ experience)
Once you have got your hand dirty in manual testing, you can pursue following specializations
- Automation Testing: As an Automation Test Engineer, you will be responsible for automating manual test case execution which otherwise could be time-consuming. Tools used IBM Rational Robot, Silk performer, and QTP
- Performance Testing: As a performance test engineer, you will be responsible for checking application responsiveness (time is taken to load, maximum load application can handle), etc. Tools used WEBLoad, Loadrunner.
- Business Analyst: A major advantages Testers have over Developers is that they have an end to end business knowledge. An obvious Testing career progression for testers is to become a Business Analyst. As a Business Analyst, you will be responsible for analyzing and assessing your company's business model and workflows. As a BA, you will intergrate these models and workflows with technology.
Software Testing as a Career pays Less Developers are more respected as compared to Testers
Contrary to popular belief, Software Testers (better known as QA professionals) are paid and treated at par with Software Developers in all "aspiring" companies. A career in Software Testing should never be considered as "second rated."
Software Testing is Boring
Software Testing could actually "test" your nerves since you need to make sense of Business Requirements and draft test cases based on your understanding. Software testing is not boring. What is boring is doing the same set of tasks repeatedly. The key is to try new things. For that matter, have you ever spoken to a software developer with more than 3 years' experience? He will tell you how boring his job has become off-lately.
For a complete newbie, here is our suggested approach to learning Software Testing
You start with learning Basic principles of Software Testing. Once done you apply for freelancing jobs. This will help you gain practical knowledge and will fortify the testing concepts you have learned.
Next, you proceed to Selenium - Automation tool, then JMeter - Performance Testing tool and finally TestLink - Test Management Tool. All the while you are learning, we suggest you apply for freelancing jobs (apart from other benefits you will make some moolah too!).
Once you are through with all the tools, you may consider taking a certification. We recommend ISTQB. However, this is optional.
ISTQB Foundation level is the basic certification in Testing field.
It is not mandatory, but it will help increase your chances of getting the job. Most of the companies have this criterion.
A software tester with ISTQB cleared will be given more priority as compared to others.
After this, when you apply for permanent jobs in big corporations you will have many Software tester skills to offer as well some practical freelancing experience which may be of value and will increase your chances of being selected.
You can also pursue certification in a Testing tool of your choice.
Learning Guides: -
- Software Testing Tutorials - link
- Selenium - link As an alternative you can also learn QTP
- Jmeter - link As an alternative you can also learn Loadrunner
- Testlink - link As an alternative you can also learn Quality Center
- Freelancing Jobs – UpWork or Freelancer
- Permanent Jobs - Any major job portal like monster.com or naukri.com
Hope to see you at a QA conference some Day! :-)
Here is a tool to help you make a career choice