So you want to be a software tester? Smart move. A career in software testing can be extremely rewarding and the industry growth potential is very high. If you’ve been tossing around the idea of entering into this fun and fruitful field, then read on to find out how to get your foot in the door.
Interview a group of software testers and you’ll find that they stem from a variety of different backgrounds. Some entered the industry from the business world, while others have trickled down from the more technical side of things. Regardless of where they came from, all effective software testers possess an unyielding attention to detail, communication skills, and a serious knack for thinking outside the box.
FAQ: Do I need a degree?
The simple answer is no, you don’t need a degree. The slightly longer answer, however, is that while holding a four-year degree – especially a tech-related one – is certainly not a requirement to become a software tester, it definitely helps.
The reason being is that Software Tester is a rather short title that can be applied to a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. On one end of the spectrum you have white box and automated testing, which require a pretty heavy background in programming, scripting, and a good understanding of how websites or apps are structured. On the other end of the spectrum there’s black box and user-interface testing, which tend to rely more on business know-how rather than technical prowess. In the end it all boils down to your areas of expertise, previous work experience, and where you find yourself fitting into this wide spectrum.
You may not need to be a programming mastermind to break into the industry, but it won’t hurt to gain a little bit of technical knowledge before throwing your hat into the ring. Luckily, the internet is rich with resources. If you’re completely new to the tech world, I’ve compiled a list of free and low-cost online courses and tutorials (see Resources below) that will gently introduce you computers, software development, testing, as well as web and mobile technology.
A quick Google search will also reveal that there are a number of for-profit institutions that offer both online and in-person training in software testing. These types of courses last anywhere from a few days to a few months and are worth considering if you respond better to more structured, formal instruction.
The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) is the golden standard in the industry, and earning a foundation level certification from them can go a long way in boosting your job prospects. The syllabus and reference materials for the exam are available for free online and cover important topics including the fundamentals of testing, software lifecycle, testing techniques and design, test management, and test tools.
Even if you don’t plan on earning the certification, I highly recommend reading through the learning material to get a crash course how testing works and how it fits into a larger software development lifecycle.
Getting a job
Even though the worst of the global recession appears to be behind us, the job market is still tough. Internships and freelance work are good places to gain the practical on-the-job experience that employers value so highly. When accompanied by a resume that shows you possess real interest in the field, it can open the door to a full-fledged career in software testing.
International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)
Udacity – No and low-cost project-based online classes
- Software Testing: How to Make Software Fail (free)
- Intro to Computer Science
- Intro to Programming (free)
- . . . and many more
Coursera – Free learning platform that offers courses taught by some of the world’s leading universities
- Learn to Program: The Fundamentals (University of Toronto)
- Human-Computer Interaction (University of California San Diego)
- Programming for Everybody (University of Michigan)
- . . . and many more
w3schools – Free online tutorials in a variety of web technologies
Crowdsourced Testing offers software testers an opportunity to work from home on exciting and challenging projects for partner companies with sporadic testing needs. We are looking for serious, dedicated, passionate software testers who understand the importance of good testing practices.
Whether you are currently employed looking to supplement your income, or you are looking for opportunities to work from home in an industry that you love, Crowdsourced Testing may be right for you.