The position of a tester is considered to be one of the easiest ways to enter the information technology industry quickly. Rumor has it that this profession is easy to learn, that working as a tester is a lazy job, and that a software tester is paid almost like a programmer. How reliable is this information? Let’s figure it out.
Who are testers, what are they responsible for and what they do?
A software tester plans and executes application testing, debugs code, and improves program usability. Latin letters q and a are often added to the name of the profession: qa tester. The name qa engineer is also used. The essence of a tester’s activity is hidden in Latin letters.
What a tester is responsible for?
QA means quality assurance and it is the part of development that controls the quality of the product. QA is a broad concept, and work on quality assurance begins long before the first line of code for a future application is written. In an ideal world, a quality engineer works on a product, if not at the idea generation stage, then at the stage of market research and studying the needs of the target audience.
The broad concept of QA includes another area of activity: QC, quality control. QC engineers control the product during the development and support phase. Software testing is one of the quality control tools. That is, the tester checks the application as part of the quality control (QC) activities that are part of the quality assurance (QA) work package.
In a broad sense, testers are involved in creating software that is useful to users. More specifically, testers control the quality of the applications the organization is working on.
What does a tester do?
As stated above, testers test software. Let’s figure out how they work.
There is manual and automated software testing. Consequently, manual testers test applications manually, while automated testers work with software.
A manual tester essentially manually simulates the actions of an application user. The specialist makes sure that the program works as expected in different interaction scenarios. Manual testing is sometimes referred to as behavioral testing or black box testing. But automated tests are also most often done using a black box strategy.
A black box strategy is an approach in which an object is tested without using knowledge about its internal structure.
When planning behavioral tests, the specialist takes into account the technical requirements for the software. Example: the specification states that after registering a new user, the application sends a confirmation email to the specified email address. The tester registers in the application and checks if the corresponding email has been received.
Manual testing is the easiest way to assess the quality of an application. Testing an application manually is an “expensive” operation, since the speed and accuracy of tests is limited by the capabilities of testers.
Automated testing involves testing applications with software. This does not mean that testers are not needed for automated checks. On the contrary, an autotest specialist should know and be able to do more than a manual tester.
Here is a rough description of how an automated testing expert works.
- First of all, he selects test cases or application features that need to be tested. Usually, for autotests, functions critical for the operation of software are selected, for example, processing payments, saving user data. Autotesting is suitable when tests are repeated multiple times or when large amounts of data need to be used to test an application’s function.
- The tester then selects the tools, plans and implements the test design. At this stage, a specialist prepares data for tests, sets up tools, sets up a testing schedule. The tests are run, the test results are automatically recorded.
- The specialist analyzes the received data and transfers the information to the developers.
Test automation saves organization resources. It allows you to re-test applications with minimal effort, takes less time compared to manual tests, and reduces the number of errors.
Working as a tester: where do QA engineers work?
Testers work in teams that develop software. Not a single prototype development company can do without a tester, because the future success of the product depends on his/her conclusions.
QA engineers and QC testers are often recruited by teams that use DevOps. In such teams, software development, testing and support are performed cyclically using Agile or Scrum approaches.
What a tester should know and be able to do, what soft skills this specialist needs
First of all, a specialist must learn the basics of testing. Testing classification, methods and tools, creation of test scripts – this is the basic set of knowledge from which future QA testers begin their acquaintance with the profession.
You will need knowledge of the basics of programming, the HTTP protocol, the ability to work with databases and version control systems, at least basic knowledge of HTML and CSS.
The tester should be able to work with the command line, browsers and developer tools. You will also need to know how to work with automated testing tools, such as HP-UFT (formerly QTP), Selenium, Sahi, and so on.
Experts name different soft skills that testers should have. Soft skills specific to this profession include attentiveness to detail, critical thinking, and the ability to analyze information.
Myths about software testing and testers
- For some reason, the misconception is becoming more and more common, according to which testers simply click on buttons and enter random information into different fields of the program. In fact, this is not the case, if testers randomly pressed buttons and entered random data, then the test results would not bring any value to the developer. The results would be unstructured information from which it is impossible to get an idea of how high-quality the product is and how convenient it is for users. Testers always have a work strategy, a plan that allows them to get an objective description of the current state of the product.
- The second myth is that testers are responsible for software quality. In fact, the entire team is responsible for the quality of product development. Testers, on the other hand, help to improve the quality of development, as well as identify problems in the early stages.
- The third myth is that there are a lot of testers. In fact, there are few good specialists on the market. There are a lot of those who post a resume labeled “tester” without understanding the essence of software testing.
Any software tester company needs specialists, and therefore starting to master this profession is a very promising idea. A QA engineer is not a person off the street, but a qualified specialist who should know a lot and be able to practice and develop constantly.
A shortage of good talent is common in software testing, as it is in many other IT industries. Everyone always needs professionals. Now, in a pandemic, the demand for testers may decrease slightly, but if it happens, it will not be long.
Employers are willing to pay decent salaries to automated testing specialists. To become a tester, you need to study on your own or take courses. According to experts, the position of a QA engineer can be considered one of the easy ways to enter the IT industry.