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Job Photographs

  • A man is sitting at an office desk, using a computer.

    Checking the performance of an application.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Developing a program to simulate many users of a system.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  He is consulting a paper document.

    Using a test script to check that user logins and passwords work correctly.

  • A man is sitting at an office desk.  He is using a computer.  Five computers sit under the desk.

    Making sure that the software works on different systems. Each server under the desk has a different operating system loaded on it.

  • Two men sit at a long desk in a small office.  One of them is pointing something out on a computer screen, while the other man is watching and taking notes.

    Discussing proposals for testing with a colleague.

  • Software Tester

Software Tester

Introduction

As a Software Tester, you will plan and carry out tests on computer programs to see if they do exactly what they have been designed to do. You will identify the risk of errors, find any errors and report them. You will also assess the overall performance of the software and suggest ways to improve testing.

Also known as

  • Computer Software Tester
  • Test Analyst, Software

Video: - Abby: Web Systems QA

Work Activities

As a Software Tester, you will plan and carry out tests on computer programs to see if they do exactly what they have been designed to do.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • planning the testing procedures to be carried out
  • using automated testing tools or manual procedures to carry out testing
  • identifying and investigating any software problems discovered
  • making sure that any problems are dealt with correctly
  • re-testing
  • working as part of a project team, featuring Developers, Project Managers, Graphic Designers and marketing and sales teams

You must carefully follow the designs and plans for the software and its intended purpose. These plans include:

  • business design specifications - what role will the software play within the business as a whole?
  • a technical brief - the actual technical plans for the completed software, including charts and diagrams
  • a website wireframe - a visual plan of a website

You must make sure that the software:

  • meets the requirements of its design and development
  • works within an acceptable time (it's not too slow)
  • can be installed and runs correctly within its intended environment (where it will be used)

You could be working as part of a project team, featuring Developers, Project Managers, Graphic Designers and marketing and sales teams.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Software Tester, you'll need:

  • strong IT skills
  • the ability to work calmly under pressure
  • to be well organised
  • to think logically
  • the ability to plan ahead
  • to pay attention to detail
  • to be able to write clear reports
  • verbal communication skills
  • teamwork skills

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £26,500 - £30,000
  • With experience: £34,500 - £43,000
  • Senior Software Testers earn £48,000 - £54,500

Hours of work

Software Testers usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday, with extra hours as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers include:

  • computer games companies
  • computer hardware manufacturers
  • consumer electronics companies
  • large computer-using organisations and firms producing educational, financial accounting and design software packages

Opportunities for Software Testers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. A significant number of vacancies for IT and telecoms professionals are in London and the South East of England.

This career could include working for an agency.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Software Testers to work on a self-employed, freelance basis - usually on short-term contracts.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Short-term contract work is found through specialist IT recruitment agencies.

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

If you have completed at least two A levels, including one in a relevant subject, then you will be able to start work as a Software Tester.

Or you could choose to go onto university, to study a relevant degree. At university you will learn some of the skills, techniques and technologies, that employers need.

Another option is to get onto a Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area.

You will need to start carefully planning which A levels you are going to study. IT based subjects at GCSE and A level would help you to stand out from the crowd. Then once you are studying for your A levels, you will need to start looking for suitable job vacancies, or applying to universities through UCAS.

A degree isn't essential for this job. However, degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities. In order to get onto a degree course you will usually need at least two A levels.

An A level in an IT based subject would be a great help.

Training

If you would like some training, then the London Academy of IT offers a course in testing for beginners. The units that you could be studying include:

  • introduction to software testing
  • types of testing
  • the testing process
  • models used in software testing
  • automated testing
  • testing tools
  • measurement in software testing
  • hierarchy of testing difficulty
  • testing artifacts

Check the website for dates and availability.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in an IT position would be useful for this career.

Qualifications

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

For entry to a degree/HND course in a computing subject, the usual requirements are:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and maths at GCSE

Alternative level 3 qualifications to A levels include:

  • BTEC - computing and software technologies
  • BTEC - professional competence for IT and telecoms professionals
  • BTEC - software development
  • City & Guilds - ICT professional competence
  • City & Guilds - advanced technical diploma in digital technologies (application development)
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

However, course requirements vary so check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

If you are a graduate with a non-relevant degree, entry is still possible with some employers. However, taking a one-year information technology postgraduate conversion course will improve your chances.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in. These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education (HE). No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Another option would be an HNC in computing on a part-time basis, either evening and/or daytime, or a part-time foundation degree. Alternatively, taking short intensive courses in specific computing languages with private accredited IT training providers can help you to develop the portfolio of technical skills needed by employers. Courses are available on a flexible, evening, weekend or day part-time basis.

Many employers look for qualifications in software testing from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. A list of training providers, including some that offer online courses, is available on their website.

Distance learning

A number of educational institutions offer other qualifications on a distance/online learning basis.

The Open University offers degrees, a foundation degree and postgraduate qualifications in computing subjects.

Funding

Sponsorship for degree-level study of computing can be available through some of the larger IT companies.

Statistics

  • 11% of people in occupations such as software tester are self-employed.
  • 4% work part-time.
  • 26% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Software Testing: An ISTQB-ISEB Foundation Guide - Second Edition

Editor: Brian Hambling Publisher: Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Tech Partnership

Email: info@thetechpartnership.com

Website: www.thetechpartnership.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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