Learning a variety of software tester skills isn’t as difficult as you might think. Today we put together a list of top 7 skills to help you improve yourself and land this job or take the next step in your career. These 7 skills will be divided into two types: technical skills and soft skills, which employers always look for in their potential candidates.
Note that a software tester job description often includes a preferred degree and years of relevant work experience, familiarity with specific databases, and other technical skills. Soft skills usually appear at the end or under an ‘additional skills’ category.
As a software tester, you need technical skills to understand how the system or the technology works, to use testing tools, to join the testing process, and to write detailed reports. Here are some technical skills that you should equip yourself as soon as possible.
Note: The first two of this list are actually technical knowledge that you need to equip for yourself.
1. Systems Development Life Cycle
Systems Development Life Cycle (a.k.a SDLC) describes phases to develop software with the best quality and optimized design, from initial feasibility study through maintenance of the completed application. It defines all the tasks involved in planning, creating, testing, and deploying a software (or probably hardware) product.
A software tester needs to know SDLC. It’ll not only give you insights into the software development process but also help anticipate common complexities, which might lead to a tough time in the testing process.
Scrum, Lean, and Kanban are some of the most common technologies companies use. By learning them, you can perform better in your work.
2. Testing Process
Software testing process involves evaluating software and its components to identify bugs. This process will be carried out before the launch of the software to ensure all defects can be fixed in time.
Two ways to conduct a software testing process are manual testing and automation testing. But, it depends on the project requirements, budget associations, and expertise of your team.
Manual testing: In this process, testers use the software like an end-user would and find bugs. Their responsibilities are solely executing all test cases manually without working with automation testing tools.
Automation testing: The name tells it all. You’ll use an automation testing tool to undertake the testing process. This helps reduce manual efforts and the time involved in the whole process of software testing. Also, automation testing is useful to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.
It’s not easy to understand the software testing process if you’re new to the profession. Hence, the best advice is to take a software tester course early on and find a mentor.
3. Testing Tools and Technologies
A software tester must have knowledge of testing tools and technologies. Without that, it’s hard for you to land the job, especially if you work in another profession before.
There are a variety of software testing tools available out there these days. You don’t need to keep track of all of them, but should know the most widely-used ones, as shown below:
- Automation testing tools like Selenium, Watir, and Ranorex. You use them to test functionalities of the software automatically, which helps run many tests in a short time efficiently.
- Agile testing tools like JIRA and SoapUI. You need to know them if you work for a company that adopts agile the Scrum software development methodology.
- Load testing tools like Apache JMeter and Tsung. You use them to perform load and stress tests.
- Test management tools like Zephyr, QMetry, and TestRail. You may need them to manage your projects, testing resources, record test results, and create reports.
Besides testing tools, you also need to understand technologies and update the latest and emerging trends. By doing that, you’re aware of upcoming challenges and adapt to changes quickly. Here are some ways to keep up with technology:
- Follow technology blogs, tech news websites, or IT publications. Searching for trends in technology on Google will give you a good start.
- Follow industry leaders on social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Join tech communities on Reddit, Telegram, Slack, etc. Those communities also offer group discussions that you can join to learn and share ideas.
As a software tester, your job is to sit down for hours analyzing the software and looking for bugs. After doing that, you’ll create reports and documents with stakeholders to present what you’ve found and what you think about software functionalities. That’s why good documentation and reporting skills will benefit you a lot.
No one cares about how many test cases you’ve run on the whole day. What they really want to know is the final result. Your report should be as much consolidated and concise as possible.
Read through the job descriptions for a software tester, and you’ll see a long list of technical requirements and desired experience in IT. It seems soft skills get short shrift, but they’re just as important as technical skills. The moment you walk into an interview, you’ll be judged on them, whether you’re applying for a manual software tester lead or looking for a new path as an automation tester.
The next parts of this article will walk you through the top soft skills for a software tester.
Testers have to communicate with team members, developers, and other stakeholders. Different projects mean different people with different types of personalities, perspectives, and requirements. No matter who they are, you need excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills to express your view effectively and handle difficult situations.
Bear in mind the following communication skills:
- Questioning skills: Ask the right questions and know when to raise your questions or when to keep quiet. When in doubt, always ask.
- Listening skills: Listen actively to discover scenarios that you may miss. There is always room for improvement.
- Persuasion skills: Develop them to clearly present defects to product owners and software developers. Make sure bugs will be known and fixed on time to mitigate risks.
6. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking helps you improve the quality of your thinking in the process of evaluating ideas and deciding on what to test.
Testing is the enactment of critical thinking about software. You call it critical thinking whenever you systematically doubt something that the ‘signs’ tell you is probably true. Working through the doubt gives you a better foundation for your beliefs.
Bugs don’t show up and say ‘I am here’ — they like to play hide-and-seek. In any test activity, ask yourself what questions drive your evaluation strategy: Are you testing within scope? What are you not testing? What do you need to focus more on?
The difference between average testers and excellent testers is how they think: Why do you choose that test strategy? How do you explain your thinking clearly and concisely? If you want to be an excellent tester, learn to think like one.
7. Organization Skills
As a tester, you have to convince others there is a bug in the code, monitor the application, and identify bottlenecks. There’s just not enough time in the day to get what you need to be done, to say nothing of the week when you are bogged down with so many projects you have to stay up late and wake up early in an attempt to catch up on work.
Even though you’ve created a master working plan and attempted to manage your time effectively, each day brings new challenges. Production problems, new bugs, or new codes from the development team, your day may not end up the way you expected it to.
With those in mind, you should hone your organization skills. Learn how to prioritize your tasks, say no to what’s not important, and keep your emotions under control. You should also evaluate each new demand concerning its urgency, revenue impact, and other key factors.
Staying organized can save you a great deal of time throughout a given project’s lifecycle. You can find so many books about this topic. If you’re struggling, pick one up.
A conclusion about software tester skills
Now you’ve learned the best 7 software tester skills that can boost your career. Remember that software testing isn’t just about ensuring the software works. It’s also making the program superior. Improving your skills and being constant to learn will help you contribute to the product’s quality, earn a higher salary, and reach to the manager level.