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How do I know if I'm cut out for a software testing job?

Do you wonder about the software testing field? Expert tester Gerie Owen knows exactly what kinds of traits and skills are required for success in this area.

Software testers bring a wide variety of skill sets to the software development process. Some have coding skills,...

enabling them to diagnose issues and implement automation processes. Others have domain knowledge and understand how an application will be used to solve a business problem. Still others have intuition and experience to identify weaknesses in software and describe them so that others can replicate them. Unlike many other professions, there is no single set of skills or characteristics that define a software testing job.

That said, a software testing job isn't for everyone. Probably the most common characteristics among testers are curiosity and attention to detail. Testers have to be willing to try new software and be curious about how it works. Although testers often work from requirements or user stories, there is a large element of, "What happens if I try this?" to their activities. They also have to have the discipline to follow through in investigating the software and its possible defects.

Although testing is a technical endeavor, people skills are also vital. You have to work as a team member, be able to explain what you found clearly in both technology and business terms, and persuade others to accept your point of view. This isn't a profession where you can hide under your desk. The ability to communicate -- especially the ability to frame your message appropriately for the audience -- is a skill that can make or break a testing career.

Last, training and experience also play a big role in a software testing job. Many successful testers start out in another field, and find themselves drawn to testing through experiences in that field. They do this usually through self-education, working with experienced testers and similar initiatives. You have to take responsibility for your career development and constantly work to improve your knowledge and skills.

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This was last published in November 2015

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How would you describe a typical software tester?
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A typical software tester is anything but typical. We all come from different views, different experiences, and different areas of expertise. It's common to say that testers have attention to detail, can be adaptive with ambiguous requirements, and are willing to deal with tedium to run down problems. those are all true, but in addition, there needs to be a strong creative streak. Test design and execution improves significantly when the testers's natural creativity is allowed to be implemented. 
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I agree that there are no typical software testers, unless you’re talking about a commodity tester, which doesn’t really count. Instead, I think there are typical attributes that a software tester needs, most notable of which are to be intellectually curious and not afraid to ask questions. For a more detailed list of skills, see the list generated by the Association for Software Testing’s Workshop On Self-Education in software testing (WHOSE), found here.
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These are people that tend to think outside the box. We focus on details and the way things should be and then have to think like the others and do the unthinkable. We tend to think logically and follow the rules. Then we have to play devils advocate and do things most people would do illogically.
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Communications, teamwork and trust in relationship  to explain why the defect you found should be fixed.

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Typical Software tester is curious,elucidative,active listener,versatile and adaptable
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As a tester myself, I believe the traits of a software tester is that we look into the depth of things. Most people think we are just testing the surface of something, which is partially true. But we are testing the entire application as whole. Front, back and in between. Which makes us knowledgeable of the end product as a whole. Also as a tester, I believe you have to be really creative. Creative in the sense that your test script should be easy to read, reusable and the key thing maintainable. Also, a typical tester should be ready to face constant drawbacks that we face many times. Hence why I love being a tester, the challenge constantly keeps me on my toes. 
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In addition to being curious and wondering "what if", I think software testers need to bring a journalist's level of focus and desire to root out the story of an application or a bug. Jonathan Bach, I think, was the first to champion this idea, and I have considered it exceptionally worthwhile. Additionally, a software tester needs to be comfortable acting as the proxy advocate for customers, and any time they fight for the resolution of bugs, they need to be able to do that.
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I think you also need some solid problem solving skills, and be able to think critically. You also need to be able to communicate effectively with different technical levels, from users to developers. Perhaps the main thing is that you also need honesty. If a software tester is purposefully dishonest, they lose all credibility.
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If you like challenges and have good problem solving skills that's a big part of the job. You need to think it this how it should work then flip over and say what happens if I try this? Documentation is another aspect of the job. You need to be able to follow written procedures and then document the results of you findings. 
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Approaching from another perspective - personality types.
Note: those are heuristics, not rules. They describe most common personal preferences, but a mature, self-aware person can transition between different types.

References: http://www.16personalities.com/personality-types

Because testing such an amazing "bundle" of skills and activities, probably, most of type representatives may find a testing role they're comfortable in, but it heavily depends on environment.

For example, INTJ and ISTJ are methodical, pedantic, analytical, and quick learners. But they may struggle in open space Agile environment with constant interactions and interruptions where ESFP's would thrive.

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