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What software testing skills are important for a beginner?

Software testers need more than technical skills. Expert Gerie Owen explains why this career choice requires an inquisitive mind and an ability to work well with others.

When it comes to software testing skills, successful testers come from all walks of life, with all types of education....

It would help to have an understanding of computer software and a logical and methodical problem-solving approach to work. That is, after all, what you are trying to do -- solve a problem.

But I'd rather talk about mindsets than specific software testing skills here. Successful testers develop mindsets that enable them to thrive in climates of uncertainty and ambiguity. Many things aren't clear as a project progresses from development to test to deployment, and you have to be comfortable with moving forward in the absence of a certain path.

Further, technology changes rapidly and will change rapidly over the course of a 40-year career. You have to embrace change and even get ahead of it. Count on continuing your software testing skills education throughout your career, and participating in conferences, user groups and other professional organizations is a necessity. Don't count on working nine to five every day for your entire career.

Third, the software development lifecycle is a team process. As a member of that team, you have to be able to elucidate your ideas, persuade others and work in concert toward a common goal. The best teams will have disagreements but must address them upfront, come to an agreement and move forward. Sometimes, this can be frustrating, but it is a regular occurrence no matter what software testing skills you have.

In short, if you need precise instructions and answers, a stable and predictable job with a well-defined career path and like to work alone, software testing is probably not for you. If you're excited about the potential to grow intellectually and as a person and understand that your days will vary wildly, then you may have the beginnings of a testing career.

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This was last published in October 2017

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