Software tester/quality assurance engineer

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Introduction

Technology is continuously evolving and so too have the jobs within the sector. With the continuing evolution of mobile, cloud, social media and big-data; technology is ubiquitous in everything from our ATMs, smartphones, TVs, fridges, game consoles, in-car entertainment systems to our doctors’ surgeries. All of these devices are powered by increasingly complex software, so reliability and quality is paramount. The software not only needs to function as designed, but it needs to perform, to scale to millions of users, be resilient 24x7, accessible to users of varying abilities and ultimately, it needs to be secure. The ‘gatekeeper’ of this quality control process is the software tester or quality assurance engineer. Software testing as a career remains somewhat of an enigma amongst IT graduates in terms of the opportunities it offers. A modern software tester performs many roles and requires a diverse range of skills. While developers find creative ways of building software, testers find creative ways of breaking it so that the defects can be resolved before putting the software in front of end users.

What does the career of a software tester involve?

There are many paths that a tester can take within the IT industry. No longer is a software tester confined to writing and executing monotonous and repetitive manual test cases to ensure the software does what it is supposed to do – these tests can now be easily automated and executed across a myriad of devices out of hours, which frees up the tester to focus on more value-added tasks.

What skills do you need?

Testers need to have analytical skills to ensure requirements are clear and unambiguous. It is important that they are determined and systematic in their search for defects, not just proving that the system works but also that it can withstand the unpredictable actions of the end user. Software testers utilise troubleshooting skills when investigating why a defect happens and then locate the source of the problem. They require the organisational skills of a project manager to plan testing activities and to be able to work to tight deadlines. Being a good communicator and team player is vital as testers must work with developers, business analysts, project managers and end users. A software tester is a negotiator, an influencer and the provider of information on the quality of the software products and the risks. They should also have the ability to work on their own initiative. Software testing now encompasses skills more traditionally associated with programming or development. Automation or performance testers use software testing tools (open source or enterprise) as well as scripting languages to find faster, more efficient ways of exposing weaknesses in software. The advantage of this type of work is that it is often ‘green-field’ or starting from scratch. It involves a level of creativity and freedom not always experienced in development roles and provides the opportunity to be innovative.

Is this the right career for me?

Software testing offers a proven career path to graduates, starting as a test analyst and then growing into test leads, test managers, programme test manager and ultimately head of testing/ quality. Are you curious about how things work? Do you like to break and fix things? Do you like to meet new and diverse people? Are you interested in new technology across all business sectors? Do you have excellent attention to detail? Then consider a career in the world of software testing

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