QA Tester: Who is a tester? What skills are needed for this job? And what responsibilities has a tester got?

October 9, 2020

Testing is a growing profession, and you can clearly see why. Our world is filled with technology, of all different kinds. With all of this tech around the place, the only way for different businesses to compete is to bring prestigious and reputable products or services  to the market.

How do they do this? 

Easy, they do this by ensuring that their end product, whatever this may be, has been tested over and over by a Quality Assurance Tester to make sure that the product is in perfect condition before it goes out to the public. 

Let’s face it, there is no such thing as perfect, and even a top-notch team can make mistakes when developing a product, (and this perfectly fine!). But the way you can ensure that your product is as error-free as possible is to get it tested and checked by a specialized team. Because nobody wants to send out a glitch-filled product to the public.

Even small changes can influence the end-product or service. So, it would be foolish to skip out on this part and just send something to market! This is why software testing is an integral part of any product development cycle. 

Let’s take a closer look at this profession.

Who is a Quality Assurance Tester?

A Quality Assurance Tester (QA) is a specialist who works within the software development process. A tester generally works in a team, and this team works very closely on a project together. 

A QA tester is the one who makes sure that a product works the way it should, meets the client’s expectations, and satisfies the technical requirements that have been set out. 

This role involves identifying issues and reporting bugs, so that these problems can be fixed before the product goes anywhere near an end-user. It also involves, creating test plans, and supporting members of the team as they work through the project. 

All testing is usually done before the end-user starts using the product. 

The role of a QA tester is not limited at all, and there is potential for excellent career growth, for those who are interested. For example, QA testers may be promoted to an executive or managerial position as they progress in their career. But, and we should stress this, career growth is reliant on the individual, on company policies, and on internal structures. As a rule, successful testers are not ignored by senior management and do move between roles quite quickly.

Join us as we take a look at the role of a QA tester in more detail, and check out what skills are needed when you work in Quality Assurance Testing. 

Skills you need for a Quality Assurance Testing position

The role of a Quality Assurance Tester is quite lucrative, and therefore it requires a number of different skills. Some of the skills we will discuss with you may seem fairly obvious, but others may not be so obvious. Take a look below to find out more information.

This role is heavily driven by quality. So, a hiring manager is seeking to find an individual who shares company values, is detailed and attentive, is a skilled tester, and is able to work in a team. Additionally, a tester must have in-depth knowledge of coding languages and software, has the ability to work out designs and run tests, and can analyze the results. A result-oriented person, who is able to communicate problems with a team clearly, is an exceptionally desirable person.

Here is a list of soft skills that a QA tester should master (skills will develop as a tester progresses in their career):

  • Learning 
  • Ability to work individually when required 
  • Work in a team
  • Listening
  • Communication
  • Adaptable
  • Flexibility 
  • Great time management
  • Hold focus 
  • Can carry tasks 
  • Result driven
  • Knowledge of UI (user interface) and UX (user experience)
  • Empathy (understands the user)
  • Can share knowledge/mentor others
  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Knowing what to say when 
  • Prioritizing
  • Organization

Here is a more detailed look at some of the skills that a hiring manager is looking out for when they read over a resume.

Critical thinking

When testing a product, a tester knows that the product has to meet the client’s requirements and expectations. A competent tester can, and must, therefore think about the product from the customer’s point of view. It is essential that the QA tester has empathy towards the end-user, otherwise the product will not be suitable. The more ‘What if’ cases a tester can create, the better the software is going to be. The main purpose for creating awkward situations is to make sure that everything that could be done, has been done, so that the final version of the product is as flawless as possible. This then satisfies both parties: the product owner and the end-user.

Social skills

QA testers are expected to work in a team, along with programmers, engineers, and many others. Teamwork is absolutely critical and cannot be avoided. When working in a team you must be able to listen, to share work, and to collaborate with other individuals. If this is not the case, the a product will not end up in its best form, and it’ll be full of errors. 

Flexibility

When testing a product, there are usually different softwares and/or approaches that could be used to test the product. A tester should be informed about manual, as well as, automated testing processes, so that they know what is the best approach to use. A new QA tester should be at least familiar with various methods and ways to solve the tasks, even if they are not trained in both manual and automated testing. As a beginner, you must show that you can be flexible and can accept new challenges and changes daily. On the other hand, experienced testers should not be relaxed about testing, as they need to be constantly learning and researching about new testing features. 

Ability to learn

The project can change in a flash, so unexpected twists can make you change how you are working from one day to another. Any tester should be able to handle these issues and constantly work on their self-improvement so that they can overcome these daily issues. Plus, IT is ever growing, so you must keep learning to stay up to date. 

Communication skills

Testers communicate with clients, as well as with other team members, and that is the reason hiring managers highlight this skill. Perhaps you are curious why QAs discuss the process with their client? The answer is simple – along with developers, testers indicate the issues in a product, and discuss the solutions with the client. The tester is a ‘non-technical mind,’ while the developer is ‘technical talent’, so when both of these minds are put together they can help the client to understand what’s wrong, and how the product is going to be moving in the right direction with the noted solutions. If the client does not understand what is wrong with the product, they may become agitated and upset. So, effective and clear communication is a must. 

Additionally, here is a list of hard skills that testers usually have, but tester are not limited to this list (skills will develop as a tester progresses in their career):

  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving 
  • Troubleshooting and error documentation
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Competence in test management software (varies in different companies)
  • Communication proficiency
  • Knowledge of Agile frameworks
  • Project management experience
  • Familiarity with QA methodology
  • Valid experience in software testing
  • Ability to use Microsoft Windows, and Linux
  • Proficiency in Java, Python, XML, C++, and SQL
  • Discipline

As you can see there is quite an eclectic mix of skills mentioned above, but all of these skills can be learnt. Let’s now take a look at what responsibilities a Quality Assurance Tester has at work.  

Job responsibilities

A Quality Assurance Tester has many different responsibilities that are all connected to ensuring a product is of sound quality. In fact, there are so many that our list of responsibilities below doesn’t cover everything, because sometimes responsibilities change from organization to organization. Ideally, the goal is always the same: to search for bugs and glitches, that’ll ensure that an exceptional product, that stands out and gets positive end-users reviews, goes to the market. 

Our list below consists of the traditional responsibilities that you would expect a Quality Assurance Tester to have: 

  • Analysis of the product specifications
  • Reviewing the results of a test script
  • Code evaluation according to the given criteria
  • Assistance in troubleshooting
  • Box testing
  • Reporting and documenting any technical issues found to the team of developers
  • Test automation
  • Automated or manual case testing
  • Collaboration with QA engineers (to develop test strategies and plans)
  • Managing post-release testing
  • Collaboration with teams to ensure that the product is of high quality throughout the whole software development process

One of the main duties of every QA tester is to meet set deadlines, so that there is little delay for the client who owns the product, as this is typically costly for the client.

As you can see the role of a Quality Assurance Tester has many responsibilities, but don’t be put off by the extensive list. Everything on the above list can be taught to you and you could be working as a Quality Assurance Tester in a few months time. 

Conclusion

You’ve now got a lot of information about the role of a Quality Assurance Tester. Perhaps you feel a little thrown by all of the information, but we can assure you that QA isn’t as scary as it looks! In fact, a lot of people actually find the job rewarding, challenging, and very satisfying.

To put it simply, a QA tester is there to spot all the problems in a product, in real time, to make sure that a product of high quality goes to the market, and not some bug-ridden thing that everyone hates. There is typically a list of ‘quality requirements’ that should be followed. This will only make the product more user-friendly and credible on the market. The desired outcome of any QA project is to create a top-notch product that meets the end-user’s expectations.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done to become a successful tester, but once you get started you’ll quickly see that a lot of things mentioned here will fall into place naturally. It’s not hard to learn QA, and it’s not too difficult to become a Quality Assurance Tester, but it does require effort. 

If looking for errors and bugs, and software engineering in general, is something you quite like the sound of then you should head over to our website for more information!

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