How To Become a Software Tester: Overview, Duties and Salary

Updated 17 August 2023

Software testers play an important role in ensuring that products meet performance requirements for users and clients. Professionals in this field use quality assurance skills to find bugs and deficiencies that can compromise the safety and efficiency of software products. Knowing how to become a software tester and how to start a career in the industry can help you decide whether it aligns with your interests. In this article, we discuss what a software tester is, how to become a software tester and other details of the role, including duties and salary.

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What is a software tester?

A software tester is a quality assurance professional who is involved throughout the software development life cycle to ensure that the finished product works as intended. Software testers use programming, manual and administrative tools to find weaknesses in computer programs, which helps keep the code clean, reduces the chances of errors and enhances the security of end-user systems. The importance of the function of software testers means they collaborate with the technical team, business team and the clients, which requires a wide range of soft and hard skills.

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How to become a software tester

Below is a list of steps you can take to pursue a software testing career:

1. Get an undergraduate degree

Many employers require a bachelor's degree from software testers. You can get an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics and related fields. Employers might require you to have a bachelor's degree in their industry. For example, a company that develops software tools for the manufacturing industry may want candidates with a background in mechanical engineering, while a firm that specialises in statistical analysis applications may look for people with a degree in mathematics. Whichever major you choose to study, ensure that it prepares you adequately for your ideal software testing role.

2. Learn programming

While coding is not always a prerequisite for software testing, a foundational knowledge of the dominant programming language in your industry can improve your chances of getting employed. Having decent coding skills not only improves your chances of employment, but it can also make it easier to collaborate with development teams and help you with daily software testing tasks.

If your undergraduate degree is not programming-intensive, you can find several coding courses online or go for a short certification course in the university or polytechnic near you. Make sure the coding language you learn is the prevalent one in the software testing environment you want to work in.

3. Gain experience

Relevant experience can be a requirement when looking for software testing jobs. You can gain experience through quality assurance, coding and data analyst roles. Any position that involves analysing customer or end-user needs can serve as relevant experience. You can also include coding projects, whether as a freelancer or part of your undergraduate studies, so long as it applies to the employer's activities. Internships can also serve as relevant experience.

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4. Acquire certifications

Earning certifications from respected bodies in the software testing industry can enhance your ability to get a good job and deliver results for your employer. You can go for the International Software Testing Qualifications Board Tester certifications or the Certified Software Tester (CSTE) equivalent. Note that the CSTE certification requires two years of relevant experience if you have a bachelor's degree and six years of experience for non-degree holders.

These qualifications check your software testing skills, knowledge of quality control and information technology expertise. Having these certifications can give you an advantage over candidates with only traditional education and increase your ability to earn higher salaries.

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What qualifications do you need to become a software tester?

Most software tester candidates require at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, physics, engineering or related fields to qualify for employment. Depending on the employer and specific job duties and responsibilities, candidates may need up to three to six years of experience for this role. Some organisations can consider candidates with extensive software testing experience and a stable job history in place of a degree. Software testers may also need specific certifications to prove their expertise in an employer's industry.

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What does a software tester do?

Here are some duties and responsibilities of a software tester:

  • Working with the business and software development teams to create performance parameters and identify business requirements

  • Collaborating with project support teams and software developers throughout the project life cycle

  • Designing software testing scenarios

  • Monitoring computer applications and software systems

  • Performing manual and automated tests, including stress testing, performance testing, scalability testing and functional testing

  • Identifying bugs and writing reports on findings

  • Assessing code and reviewing documentation of the software development team

  • Troubleshooting and solving problems related to software performance and safety

  • Providing feedback to software development teams for improved performance and timely project delivery

  • Compiling reports on the activities of the software development teams at the end of the project


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Is software testing a good job?

Here are some reasons software testing is a good job:

  • Helps develop transferable skills. Software testing can help you learn and develop coding and non-coding skills that can improve your employability in several other fields. You can become proficient in automation, quality assurance, project management and several other competencies that can improve your earning ability.

  • It is an important role in development projects. Software testing plays a crucial role in computer programs because it helps to find bugs, ensures products meet user satisfaction and meets industry standards. They also work to keep the security of the product intact.

  • Offers career advancements. Regardless of changes in the software development industry, testers are going to be a constant feature because of the importance of their work. While the job requirements might change a little, there are likely going to be several opportunities for software testers with up-to-date skills.

  • Offers good pay. You may think that software testers earn less than developers, but this is not always the case. Testers can also get decent salaries, depending on their skills, qualifications, employer and job responsibilities.

  • It is a specialised field. Software testing requires certain levels of expertise few people have in the software development industry. If you can develop these skills and keep yourself current with industry trends, it is possible to enjoy a secure income as a software tester.

  • The job offers challenges. Software testers have a challenging job that requires creativity and excellent problem-solving skills to deliver results. Companies and businesses pay generously for these skill sets if you can position yourself as an expert.

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How much money does a software tester make?

Software testers or software test engineers make an average salary of $73,838 per year. Several factors, including your location, employer, education, certification and experience, can affect your pay. Getting in-demand software testing certification and learning automation can improve your ability to get higher earnings in a software testing role.

Software tester skills

Here are a few skills software testers need to perform their duties effectively:

Programming skills

Software testers require an in-depth understanding of computer programs, applications and the languages developers use to create them. Having this knowledge makes it easier to find bugs in code, understand documentation and work effectively with technical and non-technical project teams. It can also make it easier to troubleshoot and problem-solve and make more meaningful contributions to the software development process.

Analytical skills

Successful software testers have excellent analytical skills. They can determine the most important performance characteristics that can improve user satisfaction and help clients achieve business goals. Their powerful analytical expertise also helps them to provide insights that can help the development team improve their work and make suggestions that can enhance client decision making.

Problem-solving skills

One of the primary roles of software testers is identifying and solving problems before the product reaches the customers. Testers not only know how to identify issues with software products, but they can prioritise which ones can have an unacceptable impact on user experience. This can help channel the efforts of project teams to resolve those problems, so that end-users get value for their investment and clients win loyalty and keep their reputation intact.

IT systems

Software testers are proficient in information technology systems. It is beneficial for testers to have at least a basic understanding of operating systems, databases, automation tools and test management applications. This wide industry expertise can make them more effective at their jobs, more versatile and better professionals in their fields.

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Software testers collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to perform their duties. Their job involves working with clients, project teams, users and project managers to create, execute, revise and improve the software development life cycle. These activities require writing reports, giving presentations and providing feedback to ensure the final product satisfies all parties.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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