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Career Path of a Software Tester

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Software tester role plays a pivotal role in Software Development Life Cycle. Generally, software tester implements different techniques to test the application and ensure that the application being developed matches the client’s specifications. During testing, all encountered issues are sent back to the developers for fixing. That’s not all, every QA team has to strictly adhere to different processes so that testing quality can be preserved over a long time.

To achieve all these, the QA team is generally diversified. The team consists of software tester from different disciplines, having different levels of expertise. In this article, we will focus on the career path of a software tester and all the basic disciplines in software testing. We will also know how a software tester career path progresses, with every passing year.

Primary QA Disciplines

In order to fully understand the career path in a QA team, we need to first understand the different QA roles. Every testing team has to handle different testing procedures and participate in various QA processes. Some of the below-mentioned roles are not exclusive and can be handled by the same QA.

  • Manual Testing

Before testing the software, a manual software tester first goes through the features that need to be tested. While these features are still under development, detailed test cases and scenarios are createdOnce the features are delivered by the developers, all the test cases are executed manually by manual testers. These test cases can either be written by the software tester who may or may not execute them themselves.

In certain instances, these test cases are also provided by the client. Manual testers make sure that the feature requirement is strictly met and all negative and positive scenarios are tested. If any issue is encountered, they are logged in a defect tracking tool.

  • Automation Testing

Automation testers use an automation tool to create scripts that test the different features of the application autonomously. If a well-built automation framework already exists in the project, the software tester only needs to create test cases to automate. Once a set of different automated test cases are created, they are executed regularly using an automated build tool.

The execution report and status of these test cases are published and shared with the client and team members. When any functionality of the application changes, the automation testers change the affected test case and maintain the existing scripts.

  • Performance Testing

Performance testers ensure proper functioning, stability, and responsiveness of the application under varying load and stress. Using different software, performance testers observes the behavior of the application when subjected to a large number of requests.

software tester mimic users to fake enormous amounts of load and monitor the functioning of the application under such conditions. In this way, Software tester is able to find out bottlenecks and areas within the application that might cause the application to stall or crash.

  • Database Testing

The primary objective of database testers is to check the database transactions made by the application. To test every database interactions, software tester creates test queries and stored procedures and validate the results returned by these queries. As database schema doesn’t change often, database testing is also performed as part of automation.

  • Requirement Gathering

Requirement gathering is often done at the beginning of each sprint. Requirement gathering meetings are often attended by the product owner, the project’s BA and developers and software tester who have a complete understanding of the project.

During such meetings, new functionalities are discussed and loopholes are identified that might arise when the new feature is implemented. Even though the present of a QA in such meetings are not mandatory, it is considered a good practice.

  • Sprint and Test Planning

Especially for Agile projects, the team analyzed the different tasks and provides estimates and story points for each sprint items, and assign it to the team members. This shows the sprint capacity of the team and how the sprint items need to be approached. All team members from the dev and QA team are part of this meeting.

The meeting is often conducted by the team lead or team manager and at the end, all the sprint tasks, both development, and testing are assigned to every individual. Even though above-mentioned responsibilities are taken up by the QA team members, there might be some other QA responsibilities that are exclusive to the project. Some projects might require the QA team to perform security, API, mobile or ETL testing, while for others it might not be relevant.

Different Positions in a Testing Team

On a regular day, the QA team devotes time to understanding the features of the current sprint, create test cases for assigned tasks, execute existing test cases, create and maintain automation test scripts, report defects and re-testing the defect backlog.

To accomplish the deliverables, the QA team members from different disciplines and expertise work together on various tasks. For this reason, a hierarchy is also maintained among the QA team so that the tasks can be divided in the most efficient fashion. The basis positions in most QA teams are:

  • QA Analyst

The QA Analyst is generally a fresher and has the least testing experience. A QA Analyst generally engages in different meetings and knowledge sharing sessions with other QA team members to be at par with the different QA processes being followed in the team.

After all business related information is imparted to a QA Analyst, he/ she is assigned to perform manual testing of the application and write/ execute test cases for simple features.

  • Sr. QA Analyst

The Senior QA analyst, on the other hand, is considered a bit more experienced and has a more hands on testing experience over the application. The Sr. QA is responsible for verifying the test cases written by the QA and tests the application using different approaches. A single QA analyst can be responsible for performing manual, automation, and even performance testing. He/ She is also of requirement gathering sessions with client and are is self-sufficient to manage and deliver the tasks assigned to themselves.

  • QA Team Lead

A team lead had immense business knowledge about the ongoing project and is someone who is well aware of all the QA technicalities being. In short, the team lead’s primary role is to help out other QA team members and help them manage any technical or business-related hurdles. 

The QA lead’s presence is requirement gathering call is very important. He/ she communicates with the client most often and shapes the rough edges of the application requirement.

  • Test Manager

The Test manager generally involves in risk mitigation and communicates with the QA lead and client to get feedback about the ongoing project and taking steps to improve the ongoing process.

  • Senior Test Manager

While the Test Manager looks over the project at hand, the Senior Manager is responsible for handling multiple projects. He takes updates about different projects from different test managers and steps in if there are any issues related to efficiency or degrading performance.


Career Path of Software Tester

  • Every software tester who joins the QA team as a fresher follows a certain hierarchy. As their experience, domain expertise and technical skill increase so do their designation, and up the hierarchy.

  • Even though the time taken for a software tester to get promoted from one designation to the other varies substantially depending on the company and their personal capabilities, there is an average duration that every professional has to work under a certain designation.

  • To be promoted to a Senior QA analyst, a fresher has to spend an average of 2-3 years working as a QA Analyst.

  • While for a Senior Analyst it takes about 6-7 years to act as a QA Team Lead.

  • Once a software tester is assigned as a Team Lead, he/ she can take either of the paths. He/ She can either align to the technicalities prevailing in the current market, and work as a Technical Advisor, or try to plan and strategize the prevailing QA process and put on the cap as a Manager.

  • It takes over 12 years of experience to work as a Test manager, while over 15 years to become the Senior Test Manager

About the author

Vaibhav Singhal author

Vaibhav is in software testing since a decade. Worked with different testing techniques along with exploratory testing. Performed different regression, performance, api etc testing with tools and libraries like selenium, jmeter, loadrunner, protractor, rest assured, Katalon Appium and others.

1 Comment


June 14, 2017 at 4:29 am

with a gradual increase in experience one should learn some of the tools to move ahead on a career path. Also, it depends on the organization requirement and tester is required to fit in that requirement.

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