How to become a software tester. A guide from the Boosty Labs team

software tester

A software tester, or Quality Assurance tester, is a person who searches and finds bugs in a software product after its implementation. He does not test processes at the development stage – this is what the manual quality assurance tester (engineer) does – but he also helps programmers create a quality product. What QA stands for, what testers do, and how to become a tester – specialists from Boosty Labs company will help us figure it out.

What is QA Testing?

QA, or Quality Assurance, is a set of measures to ensure the quality of software. It includes an analysis of all conditions that may affect the quality of the development and the final product.

QA testing can be functional and non-functional:

Functional

Checks the operation of all functions of a mobile/desktop application or website and analyzes the interaction of the system under development with other software products. Functional testing shows how efficient the application is, how convenient it is to use the interface and install it. These tests verify the security and reliability of the system and its compatibility.

Non-functional

These tests examine the characteristics of an application or site that can be measured. Such tests demonstrate how well the program works.

Also, testers are engaged in:

Performance testing

Load tests show whether the software can handle the standard load and help determine the maximum possible load on the system. Stress tests study the performance of an application or a website under non-standard loads.

Regression tests

They check how the new program options and corrected errors affect the program’s functionality.

Unit tests (Module testing)

Check modules separately to find those that are causing the problem.

Security testing

Checking the protection of the software product from viruses, hackers, theft of confidential information.

Checking localized versions of the application

These tests show how correct is the translation of the interface, messages issued to the user, and explanatory documentation.

Usability testing

Testing the usability of the application/site for users, its clarity and simplicity. Such tests allow us to identify problems with navigation, basic and additional functionality.

In a word, a QA specialist is a person who checks a software product inside and out. A tester examines what happens to the application when a person who knows or does not know the system works with it – testing the «white box» and «black box», respectively.

Responsibilities of a software tester

A QA specialist deals with the following issues:

  • Studies technical documents;
  • Clarifies the wishes of the customer;
  • Identifies possible risks;
  • Writes test documents and describes ideas for improving product quality (so-called test cases);
  • Tests the application;
  • Finds vulnerabilities, documents and discusses them with programmers;
  • Tests the product after programmers have fixed bugs;
  • Optimizes the testing process;
  • Writes automation tests.

QA tester qualification

  • Trainee;
  • Junior: a beginner with 1-6 months experience, familiar with basic QA concepts (test plans and test cases, severity and priority defects), who can perform simple operations in SQL;
  • Middle level tester with experience up to 3 years, able to test products on their own and coach trainees/beginners;
  • Senior tester, able to cope with technically complex tasks and test applications in different ways. Senior QA engineer is a person who has mastered the profession, and can move in the direction of the QA team lead – QA-manager – Head of QA department. Also, he/she can become a developer or analyst.

What do you need to know to become a QA tester?

To become a QA tester you are obliged to:

  • Be able to work with the bug tracker JIRA, Redmine, YouTrack or similar;
  • Know the SQL query language in order to write queries to databases;
  • Those who are going to test sites need to master HTML/CSS layout , JavaScript , jQuery and HTTP, and those who like to work with mobile applications – Genymotion, VirtualBox and iOS Simulator systems;
  • Master the techniques of test design;
  • Know the features of client-server interaction.

This is not all that a novice tester needs to master: for attaining success in the profession, he must have certain skills:

  • Analytical and critical mindset, a tendency to perfectionism;
  • The ability to think strategically;
  • Responsibility and perseverance;
  • The ability to simulate situations and abstract from them;
  • Communication skills necessary for discussing controversial issues with programmers and customers and finding compromises;
  • Attentiveness and perseverance;
  • Ability to instantly switch from task to task.

Pros and cons of being a software tester

Pros

  • You will have to constantly improve your qualifications, and it will be interesting. The IT industry is developing dynamically and does not allow specialists to degrade intellectually.
  • The salary of a tester with experience is high and approaches the salary of a programmer.
  • QA testers and engineers are in demand, and there is no decline in the popularity of this profession.

Minuses

  • The work of a tester is routine, especially when it comes to manually conducting test cases and writing documentation. This job is suitable for people with the appropriate mindset.
  • You will have to sit at the computer a lot.
  • It is important to learn how to come to a compromise with a large number of people with different desires for the software product. The opinions of programmers, customers, and users may not be the same, and these issues will often have to be addressed by the tester.

How to become a QA tester?

The ideal option for becoming a tester is to get a degree in Software Engineering. This will help make knowledge systematic and make useful contacts. Attending courses and reading books is naturally also beneficial.

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