How to Become a Software Tester

Software testing is an excellent way to work on a development project without being a developer yourself. As a tester, you’ll work closely with software products and get first-hand insights into the software development life cycle. To help you on your career journey we’ve compiled a list of five steps you can take to become a software tester.

We’ll go more in-depth on each of these below but, to summarize, they are:

  1. Analyze Your Strengths
  2. Polish Your Resume
  3. Read Up on the Software Development Life Cycle
  4. Take a Course in Technical Writing
  5. Learn About Agile Methodology and Scrum

 

What is the Job Description for a Software Tester?

A software tester is tasked with making sure a software product is ready for market by acting as a trial user. It is their job to find bugs, errors, or features that may not be user friendly. Then, they need to document their testing procedures and communicate their findings to the developers who can fix any problems. The whole process usually goes through multiple cycles so, after a developer fixes the problem, the software tester will test the feature again to make sure the fix worked and that there are no other problems. Sometimes, one fix might create or call attention to an entirely different problem!

In their day-to-day work, software testers work closely with software developers. In some cases, testers may be called in toward the end of the development process to test a product that has been in the works for a long time. More often though, the testers are a part of the development process for the duration of the work. Each time a new feature is completed or a new element added, the tester may be called upon to check its functionality. In the meantime, developers can move on to other work, which the tester can test next.

This whole workflow is often organized into a framework called Agile Scrum. In this framework, teams of five to ten people work through a project in short ‘sprints,’ which last between one and four weeks, depending on the company. During each sprint, software testers – and each other member of the team – have a certain number of testing tasks to complete, which are organized into a ticketing system. When a tester finishes one of their tasks they will mark the ticket as complete.

Apart from working with developers, software testers might also work with project managers, graphic designers, UX/UI designers, and even other software testers.

How to become a software tester

Manual Tester vs Automation Tester

There are a couple of different methods that software testers use to make sure products are fool-proof and user-friendly. Most of these fall under two large umbrella categories – manual testing and automated testing. Software testers may specialize in just one of these areas, or they might use both. Manual testers take on the role of the customer and try out all of the features of the product. This might not be quite as straightforward as it sounds though – to be a very thorough manual tester, you need to make sure that the features of the software work when used as intended, but you also need to find out what would happen if a feature is used incorrectly or if the wrong information is submitted by a user. Does the whole thing implode or does it generate a useful error message that can help users try again?

The other kind of testing is automated testing, which is done by automation software testers. These software testers need to be skilled in writing scripts and using other automation tools that simulate user interaction with the software. These methods can be helpful to test how product features perform when handling large amounts of activity or user data – more than one person could manually simulate.

Software Tester Qualifications

Working as a software tester is one of the few jobs in software that (usually) does not require a bachelor’s degree. Many of the skills you need for this role can be learned on the job or in independent training. However, this role is still considered a highly skilled occupation. Below is a list of qualifications that make an excellent software tester. You don’t need to have all of these as a prerequisite for starting out, but the more you have, the better positioned you’ll be to find a job!

  • Communication
  • Technical Writing
  • Agile
  • Detail Orientation
  • Time Management
  • SQL Server
  • ASP.NET
  • C#
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Software Development Lifecycle

Do You Need to Know Coding to Be a Software Tester?

No! You do not need to know any coding languages to be a software tester – if your job only requires manual testing. However, it would be useful to learn a coding language in this role for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will facilitate your communication with developers and help you “speak their language.” As a tester you’ll need to be able to describe and document any bugs that you catch in the software. Having a basic understanding of the code that creates each function in the software will help you describe your findings in a way that makes sense to the rest of your team.

Perhaps the biggest benefit you’ll find in learning to code as a software tester is that you will be able to branch into automated testing using scripts. These scripts can simulate user interaction with software in a similar (though less human) way to manual testing. Java is a popular language used for automated testing and would be a great first language to learn.

Furthermore, as a software tester you are well-positioned to move into other tech roles because of how closely you work with the products and developers. If you do aspire to move in this direction, it will be imperative to learn to code.

 

Can You Work Remotely as a Software Tester?

Most software testers can do their work perfectly well remotely. Oftentimes, job notices will include information about whether remote work is an option or whether everyone is expected to work in person. If you do plan to work remotely as a software tester, make sure that you have reliable high-speed internet and a high quality computer. (The latter should be provided by your company.) You will likely have at least one or two quick meetings a day and at least one longer meeting each week, especially if your company uses a Scrum framework. If you work remotely, you will likely join these via video call.

 

Software Tester Education Requirements

Education requirements for software testers can vary depending on the type of testing you are expected to perform, the type of software being tested, and other factors specific to the company. Some software tester jobs ask for applicants with a bachelors or technical degree, but there are many opportunities in testing for people who do not have advanced education or for those with a degree in a non-technical field.

Furthermore, once you have worked in the field for a year or two, you may be eligible for tester jobs that would otherwise require a bachelor’s degree. In these cases, your relevant technical experience can be even more valuable than a degree.

 

How Long does it Take to Become a Software Tester?

You can become a junior-level software tester with little to no work experience. Having some technical background or a bachelor’s degree will give you a boost in the application process but it’s not unheard of for software testers to learn most of their technical skills on the job.

As with any career, you will need to dedicate time to a thorough job hunt and put work into making your resume compelling and professional. When you have time available, it would also be useful to learn new skills online. Check out intro courses on SQL, Agile Scrum, and the software development life cycle.

All things considered, you should be able to start work as a software tester within a year!

How to Become a Software Tester

1. Analyze Your Strengths

You’ll see many job openings that seek applicants who are detail-oriented and great communicators. While these skills are no doubt useful in all roles, they are an absolute must when it comes to software testing. Teams of developers rely on you to catch the tiniest of flaws and to communicate about them quickly and clearly.

To judge your own strengths in these areas, think back on any times when you’ve had to comb through something with a fine-toothed comb. Have you ever had to track down a mischarge in a bank statement, or methodically hunt for a lost key, or proofread a colleague’s work? If you can tackle these kinds of tasks calmly and methodically you probably have a good mindset for software testing.

Software testers also need to be excellent at communicating their findings to coworkers. Do you enjoy communicating with others and are you able to overcome misunderstandings? These strengths will also make you a skilled software tester.

 

2. Polish Your Resume

Software testing requires a good deal of skill, but this role relies on soft skills over hard technical skills more than other jobs in software do. Make sure that your resume reflects your soft skills well. It is important for your writing to be clear and concise with no grammatical errors and clean formatting. This will demonstrate your strong detail orientation from the start. It’s a good idea to have someone else read it over too in order to catch any errors.

3. Read Up on the Software Development Life Cycle

As a software tester, you will play an integral role in the software development life cycle. In order to better understand where you fit in, it’s a good idea to learn more about the whole process. There are a number of useful videos about this on YouTube.

4. Take a Course in Technical Writing

Written documentation is a highly important part of a software tester’s job. Even for the best of writers, technical writing can be tricky but there are excellent strategies you can lean on to make your technical writing clear, precise, and accurate. A short course on the subject will allow you to practice this skill with the help of an instructor.

As a bonus, you’ll be able to list this coursework on your resume to show employers that technical writing is a skill you’ve actively pursued.

5. Learn About Agile Methodology and Scrum

A majority of software development teams organize their workflows using Agile methodology with Scrum framework. While the principles of this framework are simple, the terminology is quite specific and might sound a little odd at first. However, being able to discuss Scum processes with an employer that uses this framework signals that you are prepared for a role in software. Check out our guide to Agile Methodology.

 

Explore schools offering Software Tester Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a Software Tester

Software testing is expected to increase massively as a profession over the coming decade. Along with other software-related roles, there is predicted to be an increase of 22% in the number of jobs available by 2030. As more and more industries begin to leverage new kinds of software and existing software becomes more advanced, there is a need for testers who play a vital role in  bringing products to market.

Best Jobs for Software Testers

Software testing jobs can range from entry-level roles to senior positions. While entry-level jobs may focus on manual testing, senior positions may be tasked with leading large-scale initiatives and planning new testing strategies.

In your initial job hunt, you will find opportunities in small startups as well as in large software companies. At smaller companies, you may be tasked with more responsibilities to handle on your own, while at larger companies you may be a member of a large contingency of testers. Each of these scenarios has its advantages and depends on personal preference.

You can also find testing jobs as part of entire companies dedicated to QA and testing. If you’d rather work on a wide range of software rather than focusing on a particular product, this might be the kind of role for you.

More Job Titles Related Software Testing

  • QA Tester – In many cases, a QA tester and a software tester are the same role. Some software professionals argue that QA testing is a subset of software testing that focuses more on whether the product meets the technical specs. On the flip side, other professionals claim that QA testing is more broad than software testing in that it involves testing the quality of both the product and the entire development process.
  • QA Engineer – A QA engineer is another role involved in testing but is generally more advanced than the tester role. A QA engineer might write automated scripts or build testing environments that can then be used by a team of testers.
  • QA Analyst – In some cases, this is just another name for a software tester. In others, this role may be more similar to that of a QA engineer. It’s a good idea to inquire more about the specific responsibilities expected if you are applying for a job with this title.
  • Penetration Tester – While similar to the role of a software tester, this role focuses on testing a product’s security rather than general user experience and functionality.
  • Manual Tester – As we discussed above, a manual tester is a sub-category of software testing. This role uses manual testing methods that simulate a user’s interaction with a product.
  • Automation Tester – This is another sub-category of software testing. Automation testers use coding to write scripts that test software automatically rather than acting as the test users themselves.

Software Tester Salary

The average salary for software testers in the U.S. is $68,682. This is well above the average salary for the country as a whole, which was $56,310 as of 2020. 

It’s important to note that the salary you can expect to earn as a software tester does depend on a number of factors such as your geographical location, your experience level, and the types of testing you perform. Generally, automation testers earn more than manual testers because they are required to write more code. In the table below we’ve broken down salary stats by manual and automation-oriented roles.

RoleAverage Yearly Salary (U.S., 2021)
Software Tester (All)$68,682
Automation Tester$85,396
Manual Tester$63,383

 

We have a few useful resources that you can use to start your career journey right now! First off, be sure to check out our page about the Agile Methodology that we mentioned above. If you’re ready to dive into learning some coding skills you can check out our list of free coding resources and our comprehensive guide to choosing a coding bootcamp.

Best of luck on your career journey!

Browse bootcamps for Software Tester.

Explore some of the top schools offering Software Tester bootcamps and find the right fit for your needs and schedule.