5 Steps to Become a Software Tester

A career as a software tester can be rewarding and is a big part of a software development project. Learn how to become a software tester in this article.

What Is A Software Tester?

First of all, let’s take a look at what a software tester actually is.

A software tester is someone on a project team that performs a series of tests on a piece of software with the aim of identifying and removing all defects. It is usually done after the software is developed and before it is released.

The testing includes a wide range of tests, as I’ve detailed in this post on testing types, such as system testing and performance testing. A software tester performs these tests either manually, or using a set of tools to do it automatically.

Now that we’ve covered what a software tester is, let’s look at the steps for how to become a software tester.

1. Learn How To Program

Programming is the first step in becoming a software tester. They perform tests on software code, and they are more effective if they know what the code is and what it means.

Having commercial experience as a programmer and knowing programming languages and fundamentals are two different things. You don’t need to have any programming experience at a company to become a software tester, but you do need to know a few things about programming:

  • Programming concepts and fundamentals (algorithms, object oriented programming, basics of architecture, etc.)
  • How to read code in various languages
  • A high level understanding of several programming languages

The most important one here is the fundamentals of programming. Programming languages come and go, but if you understand the fundamentals, they can be applied to any language you’re able to learn.

2. Learn About Software Testing

The next step on how to become a software tester is to learn about software testing in general. This might be something that you learn as part of a degree, as many software testers have a degree in Computer Science or a related field.

Learning about software testing involves:

  • The different types of testing
  • What test plans are and what they are used for
  • How to run tests and determine results
  • Creating test reports

If you’re a software developer, then you might have learnt about this at a high level, but as a software tester, you need to know it more intimately.

As mentioned, this is something that you usually learn as part of your degree. If not, there are many books and courses out there on software testing.

3. Learn Automated Testing

The next step to how to become a software tester is to learn the concepts of automated testing.

Automated testing is where you take the manual tests that you have been running originally, and put them into a tool to run them automatically. This is effective where the same tests are run quite often, or if a lot of similar tests need to be run.

One of the most popular tools for running this is HP Quick Test Professional, otherwise known as QTP. As of late 2012, this has been renamed to Unified Functional Testing (and has been combined with HP Service Test, which tests APIs). So, if you see the terms QTP or ST around, then the latest version of this tool is called UFT.

If you don’t have access to this yourself, it may also be something you learn as part of your degree. If not, then it’s something you can learn on the job. HP does offer a 60-day trial on their website, but I haven’t used it so I’m not sure how well it works.

If you’re not able to get some hands-on experience with HP UFT, then that’s still OK. The main point is to understand the concepts of automated testing, and you may be able to learn the actual tools on the job.

Another popular automation testing tool is Selenium, which you may be able to get a copy of and run your own tests on your own projects if you need.

4. Learn Performance Testing

Performance testing is another big area of becoming a software tester. It’s also an area where you should learn the concepts of it, but not necessarily the tools.

One of the most popular testing tools is another tool by HP, called LoadRunner. If you’re not able to use it while studying or get any hands-on experience, you can get a trial of it from the HP website. At the time of writing, they offer a trial version that you can use for a certain number of virtual users.

5. Apply for Software Tester Jobs

With the knowledge you have now, you should be able to apply for a job as a software tester. You have:

  • Basic programming experience
  • An understanding of programming concepts and fundamentals
  • Knowledge of how to perform software tests
  • Knowledge of testing concepts such as automated testing and performance testing

You should now be able to apply for jobs as a software tester. As part of this, you’ll need to make sure your resume is up to date and that you’re prepared for any interviews that you’ll get.

Once you get the job, congratulations! You’re now employed as a software tester!


So, in summary, to become a software tester, you need to:

  1. Learn how to program
  2. Learn about software testing
  3. Learn automated testing
  4. Learn performance testing
  5. Apply for software tester jobs