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Top QA Tester’s Skills in 2024

Imagine a QA tester as a versatile chef in a high-end, multi-cuisine restaurant. Just as a chef must master different cooking techniques, ingredients, and styles to prepare a wide array of dishes, a QA Tester must possess diverse skills to test various types of software.

Like the QA Tester, the chef starts with the basics (manual testing) – like chopping vegetables (identifying and reporting basic software bugs). As their expertise grows, they learn to use advanced kitchen appliances (automation tools) to prepare complex dishes efficiently and consistently, similar to how a tester uses automation tools to run complex test scripts efficiently.

Moreover, the chef must understand different cuisines (various testing types) – from baking pastries (performance testing) to stir-frying in a wok (API testing). Each cuisine requires unique skills and knowledge, just like each testing type requires specific approaches and tools.

In a dynamic culinary world, the chef must stay updated with the latest trends and dietary needs (emerging technologies and methodologies), such as vegan cooking or molecular gastronomy (AI and ML in testing, Agile methodologies). They also need to ensure that each dish is not only technically perfect but also pleases the palate (user experience testing) and meets health standards (security testing).

The chef’s role continues beyond the kitchen. They must communicate effectively with the waitstaff (developers and other team members), understand customer feedback (end-user experience), and manage kitchen inventory (test environments and data).

This analogy encapsulates the diverse and critical role of a QA Tester in the software development process, akin to a chef’s role in a restaurant, ensuring quality, satisfaction, and continuous improvement.

To achieve such mastery over QA, a tester needs to hone various skills. Let’s take a look at the skills that are likely to get you the best results in your role as a QA tester.

Top skills to have as a QA tester

The software testing field is evolving, with trends like mobile testing, automation testing, and testing with AI gaining momentum. Moreover, the role has become diverse, hence requiring testers to be versatile enough to adapt and grow with the ever-changing environment and product.

Understanding what the user wants

This might seem like a no-brainer, but testers often do not pause to think about what is expected of them. Merely running test cases is not enough. A QA tester is the client’s advocate as they are the ones who vet the application and attest if it is good enough for the client. And one cannot do this if they do not understand what the client wants.

AI and ML in testing

Utilizing AI and ML algorithms to optimize testing processes, predict potential defects, and enhance test coverage. You can familiarize yourself with how AI and ML can be leveraged in testing for predictive analytics, test suite optimization, defect analysis, etc. The use of generative AI in software testing is revolutionizing testing activities in a true sense.

For example, ML models can be implemented to analyze historical test data and predict which areas of the application are most likely to fail in the next release. Read here good articles about using AI in Selenium and using AI to make Jest testing smarter.

Automation testing

Mastery of using tools and frameworks that automate the testing of software is going to propel your career. This involves writing, executing, and maintaining automated test scripts. Here are a few tips to have the best test script quality.

You can make use of modern test automation tools that allow you to focus on creating meaningful test cases rather than on technical aspects of the testing framework.

Coding knowledge

Understanding programming languages like Python, Java, or JavaScript can be highly beneficial. This allows testers to write automated test scripts and understand the code they are testing. Though no-code and low-code tools are available these days, you will always benefit from this knowledge to get a deeper understanding of the application’s code base.

For example, a tester who knows Java can read and understand the source code of a Java application, enabling them to write more effective test cases and identify potential issues in the code.

The following forms of testing

Functional testing will always be relevant, but with the direction technology is headed in, you’d do much better off learning the following forms of testing as well.

Manual testing

This is the first stage for any tester. It requires a critical eye for detail and a deep understanding of the software’s intended functionality. Despite the rise of automation, manual testing skills remain essential for situations where automated testing is less effective, such as exploratory, usability, or ad-hoc testing. Without this base, you cannot build a strong career in testing.

API testing

As applications become more interconnected, the ability to test APIs using tools like Postman or Swagger is increasingly important. You can check integrations and even various functionalities of the application if you know how to work with APIs.

Performance testing

Performance testing is a necessary part of today’s application QA strategy. You can leverage various forms of performance testing like stress, load, or soak testing to check multiple aspects of the application’s performance.

Security testing

Cyber security is a hot topic these days, and rightly so, since unauthorized access and data breaches are rampant. Imagine if your banking application had a data breach. It would hurt your business in uncountable ways. Understanding basic security testing principles and tools to identify vulnerabilities in the software will help you incorporate this aspect into your testing practices.

Cross-platform testing

Technology has made it very convenient to work on the go. This means that there is a plethora of device options out there, each with its own settings and configurations. Testing software across these multiple platforms and devices to ensure consistent behavior and performance will do your business good.

For example, verifying that a mobile app functions correctly on various devices with different screen sizes and operating systems. Know more about cross-platform testing.

User Experience (UX) testing

Testing the application from the user’s perspective to ensure it is intuitive, easy to use, and meets user requirements. This could mean conducting usability testing sessions to observe real users interacting with the application and noting areas where they struggle or get confused.

Agile and DevOps practice

Knowledge of Agile methodologies, DevOps tools, and practices is important as many organizations adopt these approaches. Understanding the dynamics of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines can help you automate your tests so that they get executed periodically as well.

You can observe Agile by participating in daily stand-ups, sprint planning, and retrospectives and working closely with developers to ensure that new features are tested as they are developed.

Test management tools

Proficiency in tools that manage test cases, plan testing activities, and track defects will make your testing endeavors streamlined and methodical. Here are the top 5 test management tools.

For example, using JIRA to document test cases, track bugs, and report on test execution progress throughout the development lifecycle.

Soft skills

Critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, effective communication, and teamwork are vital for understanding requirements, collaborating with development teams, and reporting issues effectively. Even more so now, the role of a QA tester is evolving into a diverse one where collaborating with different teams is the norm.

An example of this is clearly communicating test results to developers and working together to understand the root cause of a bug.

Continuous learning

Staying updated with the latest testing tools, technologies, and methodologies in a rapidly evolving field. This could look like regularly attending webinars, workshops, and training sessions on the latest trends in QA, such as AI-based testing tools.

Cloud technologies

Knowledge of cloud services and platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, as many applications are now cloud-based, will help make testing cloud-based testing easier.

For example, testing a cloud-based application hosted on AWS, ensuring that it scales correctly and utilizes cloud resources efficiently.

Data analysis and reporting

Analyzing test data to identify patterns and generating reports to guide decision-making can help set you apart from the crowd. Using analytics tools to assess the results of test runs, identify common failure points, and report these trends to the development team for targeted improvements while also using this information to tweak existing QA processes will give you the best results.

Versatility and adaptability

Be it a testing framework or a different approach to testing, you need to be on your toes and adapt to the changing needs. A QA tester no longer works in a silo and is expected to be willing to collaborate with different teams depending on the project requirements.

Additional Resources

Final thoughts

The multifaceted role of a QA Tester is that of ensuring the quality, reliability, and security of software in the modern digital world. These skills reflect a mix of technical knowledge, practical experience, and soft skills, keeping in line with the evolving nature of technology and the role of QA in the software development lifecycle.

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