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What software testing skills should newbies know?

Software testing requires a number of different skills, but for newbies, the lingo and the skills can be intimidating. Expert Gerie Owen has wise words for those getting started.

I recently joined a testing team as a domain expert and feel out of place discussing test automation, A-B testing, regression testing and other technical concepts. Was this the right move for me?

You have to answer that question for yourself. You need to define your own career. But you can be a valuable member of your team, and I think you should look more closely at what software testing skills they need. Most testing teams require a range of technical skills and testing experience, and those are areas that you are unfamiliar with. 

But teams also require intimate knowledge of the problem domain. And that is where you come in. New software testers can play a key role in the quality of the application that you are delivering, as long as you acknowledge what skills you bring to the project.

I don't think you should give up right away. They need your knowledge of how users are going to interact with the application. This gives you the unique ability to provide insight into potential usability issues. You understand use cases and nuances that the rest of the team is probably unfamiliar with. This gives you a distinct advantage in finding defects in areas that the more technical testers are likely to miss.

Many project teams lack the perspective that you can bring to the project. It's likely that no one has the domain knowledge that you do. Your contributions have a good chance of improving overall product quality, because you know what the product users need to do their jobs.

At the same time, you can use this as an opportunity to develop software testing skills needed to comprise a successful testing team. That doesn't mean you have to learn a scripting language, run an automation tool, or design a testing strategy.

But you'll probably learn how to write effective test cases, interpret testing results and understand the difference between different types of product tests and possible defects. These are the sorts of software testing skills that will be beneficial no matter what direction you take in your career.

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