A software tester carries out manual and automated tests on software at the quality assurance stage of software development. They identify bugs and issues and ensure that software is fit for purpose before it is released to the end users. Other job titles include test analyst and quality assurance (QA) tester.
You could be:
working with software developers to get an understanding of what the system is meant to do, its functionality and who the end users are
breaking down complex or large systems into smaller parts to test
developing and executing test scripts and detailed test cases
performing manual testing for some cases
using specialist software to carry out automated testing where possible
carrying out a range of different types of test, including functional, stress, performance and scalability
reporting progress, risks and bugs identified to the software development and project management teams
testing in different platforms including operating systems, browsers and mobile devices.
The figures below are only a guide. Pay rates vary widely, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
The starting salary can be in the range of £18,000 to £25,000 a year. With experience, this can rise to between £30,000 and £40,000 a year. Senior or lead software testers can up to around £65,000 a year, sometimes more.
If you work freelance, your income will vary, depending on the contracts you get.
You will generally work normal office hours from Monday to Friday, but might sometimes have to work weekends or evenings to meet deadlines.
You spend most of your time working at a computer.
Entrants usually have a degree or HND in a computing or IT subject such as software development, software engineering or computing science.
If you have a degree in a non-computing subject you could take a postgraduate course in a related subject.
For entry to an HND course you normally require 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5. For entry to a degree course you need 4-5 Highers.
You might get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in IT and Telecommunications or Digital Applications at SCQF Level 6, then work your way up with experience and further specialist training, or a Technical Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 8.
Studying for a relevant Foundation Apprenticeship while in fifth and sixth year at school could count towards entry of a course or apprenticeship. Entry requirements vary between colleges, but you usually require some subjects at National 5 including English and Maths.
You may need to do a technical test as part of a job interview.
Knowledge of programming languages, such as Java and C#, databases and SQL is useful and maybe necessary.
There are jobs in almost all industries, including retail, IT, education, the media, central and local government, finance, the telecommunications industry and health care. Jobs are advertised in the press and on the internet.
work accurately under pressure and meet tight deadlines
work well as part of a team and individually
organise your workload and adapt to changes in timescales
learn to use new software quickly.
Training can be on the job with part time study.
With a Modern Apprenticeship you would work towards the Diploma for Information Technology and Telecommunications Professionals at SCQF Level 6 or Diploma in Digital Application Support at SCQF Level 6.
You would usually complete other short courses whilst working, for example in specialist testing software and programming languages.
You can work towards professional qualifications, ranging from foundation level up to expert, in software testing through the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB).
With experience, you might become a team manager, overseeing a number of other testers.
You might move into a more business-facing role, such as business analysis or project management.