As a software tester, you’ll play an important role in the development of new IT programs. Once a project reaches a certain stage of development, it’s your role to ensure it works exactly as it should.
This role will give you the opportunity to work within a particular industry that interests you, as computer programs are an integral part of many businesses, including automotive, gaming and consumer electronics.
When testing a new piece of software, it'll be up to you to try as best you can to ‘break’ it! This helps the design process and ensures a faultless program at every stage of development. By working closely with software designers and programme managers, you’ll be able to understand what the product is meant to do, its key features and its users.
Once you understand what the program is meant to be, you’ll then carry out tasks such as functional testing, customer scenario testing, stress testing, performance testing, scalability testing and international testing.
Because it's a technical role, it's useful to have a strong understanding of one or more querying languages, such as SQL, as well as programming languages like PHP, .NET or Java.
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Experienced software testers are in demand. Depending on your experience, there are various levels you can work as within software testing. From the junior positions, you can build up skills to progress through to software test lead, software test manager, software test architect and software test designer.
Whilst working as a software tester, it’s important for you to provide tactful, insightful feedback to maintain a good working relationship with other members of the design team. Additionally, employers will be looking for the following qualities:
• A good understanding of the software development process
• A understanding of business
• Good writing skills (for documenting the process)
• Good communications and consultancy skills
• Good presentation skills
• The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
As there aren’t many courses that focus specifically on software testing, the best way to become a software tester is to gain a level of software development experience. This can either from straight from university or from a previous job.
Employers will expect you to have excellent technical knowledge of as many programming languages and platforms as possible, and to have a good understanding of the software testing lifecycle.
The training you need will depend on the technical products you are testing, and where you want to take your career in the future.
Hours and environment
In many cases you could be working on more than one project at a time. Often they are done in phases, so you may be on the first phase of one project, whilst nearing the end of another. You could often be working on more than one project at a time, one product in first-phase testing and another in its second or final phase. Because of this, hours and working demands will be based more around the project that on specific times.
If you're documenting the tests, your typical working hours will be a 9-5 day, but if you're running tests it might be longer.
Salaries for software testers are very competitive and you could expect to start on approximately £35,000. With experience this could rise to around £50,000.
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