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How do I prepare for a software testing job?

A software testing job can be an exciting, rewarding and flexible choice. Expert tester Gerie Owen details what you'll need to do in order to begin.

Many professional software testers think that their work is enjoyable. However, it's much more than playing with software and telling others what you think is wrong with it. A software testing job is a profession and a discipline that requires a large body of knowledge, a wide range of skills, and a passion for improving software quality and the user experience.

This means that you have to follow a regimen for your testing, rather than simply calling yourself a typical user. Further, you have to work with end users and business analysts to understand the need for the software and translate that business need into discrete activities that the end user may do in order to get their work done. Technical skills, people skills and the willingness to work within a structure are important aspects of a software testing job. And because you're working as part of a team within a business, you have to balance your personal goals with team and organizational ones.

If you're still interested in a software testing job, there are many ways to enter the field. If you're in college, you might find courses in testing in the computer science or information systems departments. Courses in mathematics, philosophy and logic also can be helpful in establishing a software testing mindset.

If you're a young professional in an unrelated field, there are certifications that could serve to get you started in a software testing job. Although certifications are no substitute for experience, they can introduce you to the language and fundamental practices of the profession.

You can supplement theoretical learning with internships or mentoring programs. If you work in an organization that employs testers, you can introduce yourself and explain your interest. They will tell you what you need to do to land a software testing job, and probably also help you achieve that goal.

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