Every QA engineer needs specific abilities vital for a software development team. They must possess a unique combination of technical, analytical, and interpersonal skills to detect and resolve software systems’ defects effectively.
Essential skills for software testing include attention to detail, critical thinking, familiarity with software development methodologies, communication skills, and proficiency in multiple testing tools.
Technical and Non Technical Skills
This article will explore technical and non technical skills required for QA in detail and provide insights into how individuals can develop and hone these skills to excel in software quality assessment.
These are the skills that are very specific to the domain of the job to be done. In terms of software testing or quality assessment, it is necessary to have some technical skills for QA to begin the work. Some of them are:
- Basic programming skills
This skill is very technical and specific and can be generalized and applied to various fields with varying degrees of complexity or ease, given the requirements of our job at hand. In software testing, you will be able to utilize automation tools in the best possible way to your favor. In addition to dealing with the user interface or just the final output of the product, the job of a software tester must:
- Understand fundamental programming concepts like data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming.
- Have knowledge of version control systems, such as Git, for managing and sharing code.
- Possess the ability to work with databases and SQL for testing purposes.
- Communicate with the IT department, being aware of jargon.
- Basic Database or SQL skills
Softwares have large amounts of data stored and used in the backend to be functional. SQL has been a standard language for handling this data for a long time. It is essential for the tester to know different types of databases, such as Oracle or MySQL, so that they can handle the demands for quality assurance. As a software tester, it is vital to provide solutions when a particular aspect of the software isn’t working as per the requirements; in that case, the ability to understand and manage these queries or validate the data in the backend and database knowledge is required.
- Knowledge and experience in testing tools
As obvious as it sounds, it surely is imperative to be trained or experienced in using various tools to test the specific aspect of softwares. The simple knowledge of the latest tools available can go a long way. Using these tools and techniques and being equipped with them comes with experience and complexities of the task. Some are available for free while others are paid, and you can gradually start from easier and simpler options and grow towards the complex and paid ones.
Thus, it is also necessary for the tester to be open to learning the width and depth of available techniques out there and keep an eye on the most efficient ones. Some of the testing tools are:
- Automated testing tools: Selenium, Appium, and TestComplete allow testers to automate repetitive test cases and reduce manual testing efforts.
- Performance testing tools: Tools like LoadRunner, JMeter, and Gatling simulate real-world conditions and assess the system’s performance under load.
Alternatively, these are approaches which a tester can apply for conducting software testing:
- Test-driven development (TDD): A software development process where developers write tests for each functionality before writing the code. This helps catch bugs early in the development cycle.
- Agile testing techniques: Agile methodologies help in collaboration, flexibility, and continuous testing and delivery.
- Experience with Automation Testing
Test Automation concentrates on using Automation tools to manage the execution of tests rather than manual testing procedures. In simple words, manual testing alone cannot work with the increasing complexities and demands of the projects, and there comes the need for automation. Developing this skill should be one of the priorities for the tester to be more effective, accurate, and efficient. Some other advantages of automated testing are reduced errors, increased accuracy, reduced business expenses, less trial and error at work, greater precision, and faster execution of procedures.
Some of the popular automation testing tools include:
- Selenium: A popular open-source tool that automates web browsers and supports multiple programming languages.
- Appium: An open-source tool that supports native, hybrid, and mobile web app testing on Android and iOS platforms.
Testers must understand the SDLC to plan testing cycles efficiently. They will better understand software complexities and prevent them in the future. They will be able to comprehend the tasks involved in application development and plan the testing cycle accordingly, which credits to the overall structure of SDLC. Predicting the complex situations in the application can be facilitated by the knowledge of SDLC.
The Tester must learn some methodologies such as Kanban, Waterfall, Scrum, and Lean. These are:
- Scrum: a framework that helps in organization and complex problem solving
- Kanban: helps in implementing agile testing
- Waterfall: an approach to project management that emphasizes linear structure from start to end of the project.
Moreover, Agile methodology, knowledge of different operating systems, knowledge of various domain systems, hands-on experience with defect tracking tools, and frontend and backend skills can always be a great addition to the skillset of a software tester.
As the name suggests, these skills are not ‘specific‘ to one particular domain and can be generalized to multiple areas of work or even life. However, these non technical skills can be tailored to fit the context of when and where they are used.
For example, some of the non technical skills required for Quality Assessment are:
- Communication skills
Effective communication is crucial for software testers, as it allows them to convey their findings and recommendations to the development team.
For quality assessment, the experts must have the following skills:
- Ability to clearly share conclusions and recommendations with the development team
- Articulate defects and bugs in an easily understandable manner for technical and non-technical stakeholders
- Active listening to understand requirements and feedback from developers
- A collaborative approach to finding solutions
- Ability to negotiate priorities, timelines, and resources with the development team
- Effective communication leads to a smoother and more efficient software development process.
- Attention to detail
Attention to detail is essential for a software tester, ensuring that no defect goes unnoticed. A software tester must be detailed in their examination of the software, carefully examining each aspect to ensure that it meets the specified requirements and behaves as expected. They must also be able to identify even the most minor errors or inconsistencies, as these can significantly impact the software’s overall functionality.
Attention to detail also involves being thorough in documenting findings, tracking bugs, and recording test results for future reference. A software tester with strong attention to detail can help to ensure that the software is reliable, performs as expected, and meets the high standards of quality required for successful deployment.
- Reporting, Documenting, and Organization skills
Accurate documentation and good organizational skills are essential for quality assessment professionals who need to keep records of tests and results. Testers should be able to produce comprehensive, accurate, and concise reports that communicate their findings to the development team.
You should also be able to process and organize your test cases to be easily accessible and up to date. Proper documentation and organization also include tracking bugs, prioritizing developers, and tracking them for resolution. A software tester with good documentation and organizational skills can simplify the testing process, minimize the chance of errors, and ensure quality software delivery.
- Project Management
Effective project management is key for a software tester, who must juggle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously. For good quality assessment, the experts:
- Need to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously
- Must prioritize and plan workload to complete tasks on time and within budget
- Coordinate with the development team, understand project timelines and dependencies
- Manage resources (hardware and software tools) effectively
- Delegate tasks as needed
- Strong project management skills lead to the successful delivery of high-quality software, on time and within budget.
- Analytical skills
Analytical skills play a critical role in software testing, as testers must be able to identify and isolate defects in complex systems. You should be able to approach a problem logically, break it down into smaller components, and systematically examine each part to find the root cause of the problem.
Additionally, software testers must be able to analyze data, identify patterns, and draw meaningful conclusions from the results. Strong analytical skills also enable testers to develop and execute compelling test cases covering various scenarios to ensure software behaves as expected. The ability to think critically and solve problems analytically is essential for software testers as it helps ensure the quality and reliability of the final product.
To summarize, software quality assessment requires a blend of technical aptitude, analytical ability, and social skills. Testers must possess critical thinking, clear communication, and effective project management to guarantee that software meets standards and delivers top-notch results.
The critical skills highlighted in the article, including automation testing, programming, documenting, and project management, are crucial components of quality assessment. By mastering these abilities, QA experts may contribute significantly to accomplishing software development goals and providing outstanding software products to end users.