How to Become a Software Tester: A Do'able Guide

27 Jul 2023
18 min read

The field of software testing has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity and growth, owing to its vital role in the software development process. As technology continues to evolve, the demand for software testers has become increasingly significant. Software testing is a critical component that ensures the quality, reliability, and usability of software applications prior to their release. With the rise in complex software systems and the ever-increasing expectations of end-users, the need for skilled software testers has intensified. This presents a promising opportunity for beginners or career switchers seeking to enter the tech industry.

What is a Software Tester?

A software tester is a professional responsible for evaluating the quality and functionality of software applications. They play a critical role in the software development process by identifying defects, bugs, and issues that may affect the performance and usability of the software.

Software testers employ various testing techniques and methodologies, such as functional testing, performance testing, security testing, usability testing, and regression testing. They may use automated testing tools to enhance efficiency and accuracy, but they also perform manual testing to simulate real-world user scenarios and identify potential problems.

The primary goal of a software tester is to ensure that the software meets the specified requirements and functions correctly.

What does a Software Tester do?

A software tester plays a crucial role in the software development process by meticulously evaluating the quality and functionality of software applications. Let's examine a real-case scenario to understand the responsibilities and tasks performed by a software tester.

Consider a software development company that is creating a new e-commerce platform. As a software tester, in this scenario, their primary objective would be to ensure that the platform functions flawlessly, offers a seamless user experience, and meets the specified requirements.

  • To begin with, they collaborate with the development team and stakeholders to understand the functionality and user experience requirements of a new e-commerce platform.
  • Design and execute test cases, focusing on critical functionalities like user registration, product browsing, cart management, and payment processing.
  • Utilise automated testing tools and manual techniques to simulate various scenarios and evaluate the platform's performance and stability.
  • Record and analyse test results, documenting any deviations from expected behaviour, such as errors during checkout or slow response times.
  • Communicate findings to the development team, using defect tracking systems to ensure clear documentation and resolution.
  • Engage in regression testing to verify that fixes implemented by the development team have resolved identified issues without introducing new problems.
  • Participate in meetings and discussions, sharing expertise and insights to contribute to the continuous improvement of the software.
  • Collaborate with developers, project managers, and stakeholders to enhance the software's quality, reliability, and overall success.

Software Tester Skills

Software testers should possess a combination of technical and non-technical skills to succeed in their roles. Here's a comprehensive list of these skills:

  • Understanding of Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC): It is crucial for testers, which includes different phases like requirements testing, test planning, test analysis, test design, test execution, and test closure.
  • Knowledge of Testing Techniques: There are various types of testing like Functional Testing, Integration Testing, System Testing, Unit Testing, Acceptance Testing, Regression Testing, and others. A good software tester should be familiar with these testing techniques.
  • Automation Testing Tools Knowledge: Nowadays, most companies are adopting automation testing to make their testing process more efficient. So, knowledge of tools like Selenium, TestComplete, Katalon Studio, Appium, etc. would be a plus.
  • Programming Skills: While not mandatory for all testing roles, knowing how to code can give you a significant edge, especially in automated testing. Languages like Python, Java, and JavaScript are frequently used in this field.
  • Database / SQL Skills: As a software tester, you will often need to validate data and check whether the correct values are getting stored in the backend databases. Knowledge of SQL will be beneficial for this.
  • Knowledge of Operating Systems and Networking: Good knowledge of different Operating Systems like Windows, Linux, Mac, etc., and the basics of Networking are necessary as testing may involve applications developed on various platforms.
  • API Testing: Understanding how APIs work and how to test them is increasingly becoming a must-have skill for software testers as more and more applications are developed with a microservices architecture.
  • Performance Testing: Knowledge of performance testing tools like JMeter or LoadRunner is a big plus. Performance testing ensures that the software performs well under its expected workload.
  • Security Testing: Basic knowledge of security testing is required. Tools like OWASP ZAP and Nessus can help in finding vulnerabilities in the software.
  • Knowledge of Version Control Systems: Knowledge of tools like Git and SVN is essential for maintaining different versions of the test artifacts.
  • Understanding of Agile and DevOps Practices: Most modern development teams follow Agile methodologies and DevOps practices, so having an understanding of these is useful.

Remember, though technical skills are important, non-technical skills like analytical thinking, communication skills, attention to detail, and an ability to learn new technologies are equally important in this field.

How to Become Software Tester: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming a software tester involves a mixture of acquiring education, developing necessary skills, and gaining practical experience. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to become a software tester:

1. Obtain a Computer Science Degree

While not always strictly necessary, a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, or a related field can provide a strong foundation for a career in software testing.

2. Develop a strong understanding of programming

Programming skills are not always necessary for manual testing roles, but for automated testing roles, knowledge of programming is essential. Languages such as Java, Python, and JavaScript are commonly used in automation testing. Even for manual testers, a basic understanding of programming can be very useful.

3. Learn about Software Testing

Gain a comprehensive understanding of software testing methodologies, types of testing (unit, integration, system, user acceptance, etc.), software development lifecycle, software testing life cycle, and the role of testing in software development.

4. Gain Knowledge in Testing Tools

Learn to use popular software testing tools. For manual testing, you might need to learn tools like Jira, and Bugzilla for bug reporting. For automated testing, tools like Selenium, Appium, TestComplete, and Katalon Studio are widely used. For performance testing, you might need to learn JMeter or LoadRunner. Also, get hands-on experience with databases and SQL, as these are crucial for backend testing.

5. Enroll in Online Certifications

There are several online platforms offering courses related to software testing. These courses can provide a structured way to learn new skills, and they often include practical projects for you to apply your new knowledge. Certificates from these courses can also help you stand out when applying for jobs.

6. Hands-on Experience

Practical experience is crucial. You can gain experience through internships, entry-level positions, or even contributing to open-source projects. Try to get involved in different types of testing to broaden your skills.

7. Networking

Join software testing communities, attend seminars/webinars, and connect with experienced professionals. Networking can help you learn from others' experiences and can also open up job opportunities.

Remember, the most important thing is to have a passion for quality and a curiosity to find and resolve issues. This will help you succeed in your software testing career.

Software Tester Salary

Software testers earn a competitive salary due to the critical role they play in ensuring software quality. However, it can vary depending on various factors such as experience, location, industry, company size, and the tester's level of expertise.

According to PayScale, an entry-level Software Tester with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of ₹206,893.

An early career Software Tester with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹343,922.

A mid-career Software Tester with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹577,204.

An experienced Software Tester with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹976,020.

Source: PayScale

Software Tester Career Path

The career path for a software tester can be diverse and rewarding. Here's a typical progression, although the specific path can vary greatly depending on the individual, the organisation, and the industry:

Role Experience
Trainee <1 year
Junior Tester/Test Analyst 1-2 years
Software Test Engineer/QA Analyst 2-4 years
Senior Test Engineer/Senior QA Analyst 4-7 years
Test Lead/QA Lead 7-10 years
Test Manager/QA Manager 10+ years


In conclusion, a career in software testing offers diverse opportunities for growth and specialisation. Whether you're just starting out or looking to advance your career, it's important to continuously improve and update your skills. This can involve pursuing a relevant degree, learning about software testing tools and methodologies and gaining hands-on experience. Alternatively you can also enroll in an online course or specialized training program which can provide students with a platform to enhance their practical skills.

NxtWave's Automation Testing course has proven to be successful with a reverse-engineered curriculum and expert-led training. This course includes hands-on exercises and project-based assignments that replicate real-world scenarios. It is also designed to be beginner-friendly and is suitable for students with zero coding knowledge.

The field of software testing is ever-evolving, so staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, such as automation, is essential. With the right skills and a dedicated approach, you can forge a successful career in software testing and play a critical role in ensuring software quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a degree in Computer Science to become a software tester?

While having a degree in Computer Science or a related field can be beneficial, it's not strictly necessary. Many software testers come from different educational backgrounds. What's most important is a good understanding of software systems, a logical and analytical mindset, and a thorough knowledge of testing methodologies.

2. Do I need to know programming for a career in software testing?

This largely depends on the type of testing you're involved in. For manual testing, minimal programming knowledge might be sufficient. However, if you're looking to go into automated testing, you'll likely need to know a programming language like Java, Python, or JavaScript.

3. Is software testing a good career?

Software testing is a vital part of the IT industry and offers a promising career path with ample opportunities for growth and specialisation. With the increasing focus on the quality of software, the demand for skilled software testers is on the rise.

4. WIll online courses help me in my software testing career?

Absolutely, online courses can be incredibly beneficial for your software testing career. They provide a flexible and accessible way to gain new skills or enhance existing ones.

Automation Testing Course by NxtWave provides a structured way to learn new skills and includes practical projects for you to apply your new knowledge. Also, the Industry-Ready-Certification from NxtWave can also help you stand out when applying for jobs.

5. What is the difference between QA and Testing?

Quality Assurance or QA, is a proactive process that focuses on improving development and test processes so that defects do not arise when the software is being developed. Testing, on the other hand, is a reactive process and it focuses on identifying defects in a software product.

6. What's the difference between manual and automated testing?

Manual testing involves manually executing test cases to find defects. Automated testing uses automation tools to execute test cases. While manual testing allows for human observation and ingenuity, automated testing is more efficient for repeated test scenarios or large amounts of data.

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