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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 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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