A software tester takes a computer software program through its paces to find glitches or errors that diminish the program’s usefulness and the user’s satisfaction. In these tests, the main purpose is quality control, so the tester tries to duplicate common user behaviors along with unusual actions that might occur infrequently. The tester’s main job is to find weaknesses in the software program that could result in a malfunction. Software testers may be asked to suggest improvements or modifications that the original programmers overlooked while creating the code for a software product.
User software has at least two sets of instructions. The software that lets a computer user write letters, balance a budget or create presentations requires a set of instructions, or program. The program users see — the interface — is different from the program the computer reads to perform the tasks the software is designed to complete. Each piece of software must also speak to the computer’s operating system and access resources that it controls.
The codes for each of these instructions combine to create a piece of software. In the course of developing these software programs, a software tester must verify that all the codes and instructions for the computer and the user actually work as intended. People who hold these jobs need to understand how computers work and how people use them.
The proliferation of computer viruses and malware means software testers often run special tests to check for vulnerabilities in software programs. Computer hackers write or use special programs that exploit weaknesses in operating system software and user software. Once he discovers these potential weaknesses, a software tester can communicate with the software designer so the vulnerability to hackers can be eliminated.
Common skills for software testers include attention to detail and the ability to analyze information. Logical thinking and the capacity to learn quickly are also important. Programming experience is helpful because it give the software tester some insight into the probable causes of software errors. A software tester must also be organized and detail-oriented to document software processes.
This job requires meetings with developers and writing reports along with testing the software. The majority of software testers have at least one computer certification. Quality assurance engineers are software testers with specific training and education in the field of software testing. An undergraduate degree in computer science is generally required to qualify for these jobs. To advance in this career, a graduate degree is useful.