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Testing and QA qualifications

By Sarah Jacob Subscribe to RSS | April 23rd 2012 | Views:

When using a piece of software or playing a video game, there are times when you find a bug, spelling mistake or error and often think to yourself – “how the hell did they miss that?”. Well, if pedantry is your thing and programming or developing takes up a large part of your professional or spare time, then maybe a job as a quality assurance technician or tester is the perfect career path.

The people who fill this role are vital to the development and production of a tech product and the jobs and areas that will be on the look out for are as follows:

Basic testing

Tuning a software package or video game


Refining (or at least making suggestions to the developers and programmers as to what changes need to be made)

Keeping these key considerations in mind, testers will go through a piece of software systematically and meticulously, keeping a detailed log of their analysis and recording performance in relation to the software architect’s original intentions. Their main aim is to test for any bugs – from minor annoyances and glitches right through to major problems or large-scale crashes – and the standard of job they do can often make or break a product.

Whether it’s a new game or program, a tester must always act as the first consumer or audience and therefore report on its performance not just from a technical standpoint but a customer’s point of view, too. This may well sound like your perfect job, but working for design studios, publishers and software companies is hard work, that often involves long hours and a lot of pressure as deadlines and a release date rears its ugly head.

What does the job involve?

Before even considering the experience you need to be a successful QA tester you need to understand how the job differs to say, a network analyst or lead developer role. It may seem like good fun, but to be successful you must be highly disciplined and motivated.

Looking for flaws in software, spelling mistakes, problems with localisation (how should the European version differ to the North American version, for example), audio and visual issues and even copyright problems is extremely challenging and is not for the faint hearted. Also, with tight deadlines, not everything can be sorted before release, so good project management skills and the ability to prioritise your workload are also essential attributes.

Using a piece of software or playing a game over and over again is tedious, laborious and nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds, while diplomacy when talking to lead developers is another important trait – after all, this project is their baby.

If you’ve thought about all this and you still want to take the plunge and start your career as a tester

then you will need the following key skills:

An almost superhuman attention to detail

Brilliant communication skills

Persistence akin to that of a small Jack Russell

Patience of a saint

Able to work for long periods

Excellent conflict resolution skills

A passion for programming and developing software or playing video games

When it comes to actual qualifications, many companies aren’t too fussy as long as you have the above attributes in abundance. Obviously programming knowledge is a pre-requisite but whether you got that on the job or in your bedroom isn’t really important. What is important is understanding the IT or games industry

in detail, having experience of using the type of software you’ll be using and of course an impressive and extensive IT knowledge

including the use of databases and spreadsheets.

Being a tester can be an arduous job, but when you see that software or game on the market and hear the positive feedback – those long hours in front of a computer screen seem well worth it.

Sarah Jacob - About Author:
Sarah Jacob is a contributing editor at EmptyLemon and an IT jobs expert with a number of years of experience in the sector. EmptyLemon is a specialist IT jobs board that puts employers in direct contact with job seeking IT professionals, removing recruitment agencies from the process. EmptyLemon is something different from the recruitment options you know and boasts a simple to use, time saving web site to make sure you find the right person for your vacancy, or the perfect job for your next move.

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