Skip to main content

The skills that employers look for in software testers

Abstract

Software testing is an integral part of software development that provides better-quality products and user experiences and helps build the reputation of software companies. Though software testers perform a role that requires specific tasks and skills, in-depth studies of software testers lag behind research studies of other roles within software development teams. In this paper, we aim to create a profile of testers by presenting an empirical analysis of the skills the industry currently needs. We analysed data from 400 job adverts in 33 countries. We mapped the skills on a taxonomy comprising test-related, technical, and domain-specific skills. In addition, we looked at the demand for educational attainment, relevant certifications, and previous experience requirements. Our findings show that employers are mostly interested in skills related to test planning and design, test automation, functional testing, performance testing, and progress reporting. One third of the job advertisers were interested in people with the skills to operate test execution tools. Selenium was the testing tool most in demand. The testers must have strong technical abilities, including programming skills in Java, C#, and SQL. Also, they must handle project management tasks such as estimation, risk management, and quality assurance. Employers do not emphasise domain-specific knowledge, which indicates that they consider testing skills portable across industries. One in seven job adverts asks for a software testing certification. Our study helps clarify the complexity of the testing job and outlines the capabilities one needs to fulfil a software tester’s responsibilities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Notes

  1. https://www.alexa.com/

  2. https://www.similarweb.com/

  3. https://wordcounter.com/

References

  • Ahmed, F., Capretz, L. F., & Campbell, P. (2012). Evaluating the demand for soft skills in software development. IT Professional, 14(1), 44–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aranda, J. and Venolia, G.. (2009) The secret life of bugs: going past the errors and omissions in software repositories. In Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Software Engineering. IEEE Computer Society.

  • Association, I.S. (1990) IEEE 610-1990 - IEEE standard computer dictionary: a compilation of IEEE standard computer glossaries. Available from: https://standards.ieee.org/standard/610-1990.html. Accessed Jan 2018.

  • Avritzer, A., & Weyuker, E. J. (1996). Deriving workloads for performance testing. Software: Practice and Experience, 26(6), 613–633.

    Google Scholar 

  • Babinet, E. and Ramanathan R.. (2008) Dependency management in a large agile environment. In Agile, 2008. AGILE'08. Conference. IEEE.

  • Bergersen, G. R., Sjøberg, D. I., & Dybå, T. (2014). Construction and validation of an instrument for measuring programming skill. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 40(12), 1163–1184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Black, R., (2009) Advanced software testing–guide to the ISTQB Advanced Certification Vol. 1 and 2. ISBN-13, p. 978–1.

  • Bruns, A., A. Kornstadt, and D. Wichmann, (2009) Web application tests with selenium. IEEE Software. 26(5).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Byrd, T. A., & Turner, D. E. (2001). An exploratory analysis of the value of the skills of IT personnel: their relationship to IS infrastructure and competitive advantage. Decision Sciences, 32(1), 21–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Capretz, L.F. and F. Ahmed, (2010) Making sense of software development and personality types. IT professional 12(1).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Capretz, L. F., Varona, D., & Raza, A. (2015). Influence of personality types in software tasks choices. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 373–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohn, M., & Ford, D. (2003). Introducing an agile process to an organization [software development]. Computer, 36(6), 74–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Collins, E., et al. 2012 An industrial experience on the application of distributed testing in an agile software development environment. In Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2012 IEEE Seventh International Conference on IEEE.

  • Commision, I.E (2010). ISO/IEC/IEEE 24765:2010 systems and software engineering - vocabulary. Available from: https://www.iso.org/standard/50518.html. Accessed Jan 2018.

  • Dancey, C.P. and J. Reidy, (2007) Statistics without maths for psychology. Pearson Education.

  • Davidov, M.B., et al., 2010 Method and system for analyzing software test results, Google Patents.

  • Davis, F. D. (1993). User acceptance of information technology: system characteristics, user perceptions and behavioral impacts. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 38(3), 475–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dias-Neto, A. C., Matalonga, S., Solari, M., Robiolo, G., & Travassos, G. H. (2017). Toward the characterization of software testing practices in South America: looking at Brazil and Uruguay. Software Quality Journal, 25(4), 1145–1183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dictionary, C Cambridge dictionary. Available from: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

  • Dictionary, C Collins dictionary. Available from: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Dictionary, M.-W Merriam-Webster dictionary. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Dictionary, OE Oxford English dictionary. Available from: http://www.oed.com/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Dietrich, C., et al. (2012) Understanding Linux feature distribution. In Proceedings of the 2012 workshop on Modularity in Systems Software. ACM.

  • Dromey, R. G. (2003). Software quality—prevention versus cure? Software Quality Journal, 11(3), 197–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ebert, C., & De Neve, P. (2001). Surviving global software development. IEEE Software, 18(2), 62–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edwards, R.C., (1976) Individual traits and organizational incentives: what makes a" good" worker?. Journal of Human Resources, p. 51–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elbaum, S., G. Rothermel, and J. Penix. (2014) Techniques for improving regression testing in continuous integration development environments. In Proceedings of the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering. ACM.

  • Faraj, S., & Sproull, L. (2000). Coordinating expertise in software development teams. Management Science, 46(12), 1554–1568.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fischer, D., (2019) Was Boeing’s compensation committee sufficiently independent in judging the business risk of the 737 Max? Available at SSRN 3370066

  • Florea, R. and V. Stray. 2018 Software tester, we want to hire you! An analysis of the demand for soft skills. In International Conference on Agile Software Development. Springer.

  • Florea, R. and V. Stray. 2019 A global view on the hard skills and testing tools in software testing. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Global Software Engineering. IEEE Press.

  • Flottau, J., Broderick, S., & Massy-Beresford, H. (2019). Airlines struggle to minimize impact of Boeing 737 MAX grounding: carriers search for spare aircraft, replacement capacity. Aviation Week & Space Technology: North America and China most affected.

    Google Scholar 

  • Forward, A. and Lethbridge T.C.. (2002) The relevance of software documentation, tools and technologies: a survey. In Proceedings of the 2002 ACM symposium on Document engineering ACM.

  • Garousi, V., & Zhi, J. (2013). A survey of software testing practices in Canada. Journal of Systems and Software, 86(5), 1354–1376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garousi, V., et al. (2017) What industry wants from academia in software testing?: hearing practitioners' opinions. In Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering. ACM.

  • Glass, R. L., Collard, R., Bertolino, A., Bach, J., & Kaner, C. (2006). Software testing and industry needs. IEEE Software, 23(4), 55–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glassdoor.com Glassdoor.com . Available from: https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Goodhart, C. A., et al. (2013). An integrated framework for analyzing multiple financial regulations. International Journal of Central Banking, 9(1), 109–143.

    Google Scholar 

  • Indeed.com. Indeed.com . Available from: https://no.indeed.com/?r=us.

  • ISO/IEC, ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119-1: 2013 Software and systems engineering-software testing-part 1: concepts and definitions. 2013, SwitzerlandInternational Organization for Standardization Geneva.

  • ISTQB. ISTQB. Available from: https://www.istqb.org/. Accessed Jan 2018.

  • ISTQB, F, (2011) Foundation level syllabus version 2011. International Software Testing Qualifications Board.

  • ISTQB, I, (2015) Glossary of testing terms. ISTQB Glossary https://glossary.istqb.org/en/search/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Jain, A., Jain, M., & Dhankar, S. (2014). A comparison of RANOREX and QTP automated testing tools and their impact on software testing. IJEMS, 1(1), 8–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jiang, J., & Klein, G. (2000). Software development risks to project effectiveness. Journal of Systems and Software, 52(1), 3–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Juristo, N., Moreno, A. M., & Strigel, W. (2006). Guest editors’ introduction: software testing practices in industry. IEEE Software, 23(4), 19–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karlström, D., Runeson, P., & Nordén, S. (2005). A minimal test practice framework for emerging software organizations. Software Testing, Verification and Reliability, 15(3), 145–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kassab, M., DeFranco, J. F., & Laplante, P. A. (2017). Software testing: the state of the practice. IEEE Software, 34(5), 46–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kasurinen, J., Taipale, O., & Smolander, K. (2010). Software test automation in practice: empirical observations. Advances in Software Engineering, 2010, 118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kettunen, V., et al. 2010 A study on agility and testing processes in software organizations. In Proceedings of the 19th international symposium on Software testing and analysis. ACM.

  • Laporte, C.Y. and O'Connor R.V.. (2014) Systems and software engineering standards for very small entities: implementation and initial results. In Quality of Information and Communications Technology (QUATIC), 2014 9th International Conference on the IEEE.

  • Lee, J., Kang, S., & Lee, D. (2012). Survey on software testing practices. IET Software, 6(3), 275–282.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lethbridge, T. C. (2000). What knowledge is important to a software professional? Computer, 33(5), 44–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lindstrom, L., & Jeffries, R. (2004). Extreme programming and agile software development methodologies. Information Systems Management, 21(3), 41–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mahmud, J., Cypher, A., Haber, E., & Lau, T. (2014). Design and industrial evaluation of a tool supporting semi-automated website testing. Software Testing, Verification and Reliability, 24(1), 61–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martin, D., et al. (2007) 'Good' organisational reasons for 'Bad' software testing: an ethnographic study of testing in a small software company. In Proceedings of the 29th international conference on Software Engineering. IEEE Computer Society.

  • Mathur, S. and S. Malik, (2010) Advancements in the V-model. International Journal of Computer Applications. 1(12).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moe, N.B., et al. (2015) Continuous software testing in a globally distributed project. In Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), IEEE 10th International Conference on 2015 IEEE.

  • Monster.com Monster.com . Available from: https://www.monster.com/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Neely, S. and S. Stolt. (2013) Continuous delivery? Easy! Just change everything (well, maybe it is not that easy). In Agile Conference (AGILE)2013. IEEE.

  • Nguyen, H.Q., (2001) Testing applications on the Web: test planning for Internet-based systems. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Nirpal, P. B., & Kale, K. (2011). A brief overview of software testing metrics. International Journal on Computer Science and Engineering, 3(1), 204–2011.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norris, G. and S. Broderick, (2019) MAX issues may force change to long-term fleet-use strategies: pilot input sought on MAX changes; US carriers eye return to flight by mid-August. Aviation Week & Space Technology.

  • Nuseibeh, B. and S. Easterbrook. (2000) Requirements engineering: a roadmap. In Proceedings of the Conference on the Future of Software Engineering. ACM.

  • Ortu, M., et al. 2015 The JIRA repository dataset: understanding social aspects of software development. In Proceedings of the 11th international conference on predictive models and data analytics in software engineering. ACM.

  • Patel, B., Parikh, J., & Shah, R. (2014). A review paper on comparison of SQL performance analyzer tools: Apache JMeter and HP LoadRunner. International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology, 4(5), 3642–3645.

    Google Scholar 

  • Penov, F.P., et al., 2005 Test execution framework for automated software testing, Google Patents.

  • Pinkster, I., et al., (2006) Successful test management: an integral approach. Springer Science & Business Media.

  • Poon, P.-L., Tse, T. H., Tang, S. F., & Kuo, F. C. (2011). Contributions of tester experience and a checklist guideline to the identification of categories and choices for software testing. Software Quality Journal, 19(1), 141–163.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rafi, D.M., et al. (2012) Benefits and limitations of automated software testing: systematic literature review and practitioner survey. In Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Automation of Software Test. IEEE Press.

  • Raluca Florea, V.S. (2019a) Analysis of the skill demand for testers. Available from: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8294078.v2.

  • Raluca Florea, V.S. (2019b) Spearman coefficients, high-level skill analysis. Available from: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8299409.v2.

  • Raluca Florea, V.S. (2019c) Spearman coefficients, low-level skill analysis. Available from: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8299421.v1.

  • Raluca Florea, V.S. (2019d) Processed data, software testing jobs. Available from: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8294054.v1.

  • Rosenkranz, P., et al. (2015) A distributed test system architecture for open-source IoT software. In Proceedings of the 2015 Workshop on IoT challenges in Mobile and Industrial Systems. ACM.

  • Shahamiri, S.R., Kadir W.M.N.W., and Mohd-Hashim S.Z.. (2009) A comparative study on automated software test oracle methods. In Software Engineering Advances. ICSEA'09. Fourth International Conference on. 2009 IEEE.

  • Simplyhired.com Simplyhired.com . Available from: https://www.simplyhired.com/. Accessed Feb 2017.

  • Standardization, I.O.f International Ogranization for Standardization. Available from: https://www.iso.org/home.html.

  • Stevenson, J. and Wood M., (2017) Recognising object-oriented software design quality: a practitioner-based questionnaire survey. Software Quality Journal p. 1–45.

  • Stray, V.G., N.B. Moe, and T. Dingsøyr. 2011 Challenges to teamwork: a multiple case study of two agile teams. In International Conference on Agile Software Development. Springer.

  • Stray, V.G., Lindsjørn Y., and Sjøberg D.I.. (2013) Obstacles to efficient daily meetings in agile development projects: a case study. In 2013 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement. IEEE.

  • Stray, V., Fægri T.E., and Moe N.B.. 2016 Exploring norms in agile software teams. In International Conference on Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. Springer.

  • Stray, V., Moe N.B., and Bergersen G.R.. (2017) Are daily stand-up meetings valuable? A survey of developers in software teams. In International Conference on Agile Software Development. Springer.

  • Strode, D.E. and Huff S.L.. (2012) A taxonomy of dependencies in agile software development. In ACIS 2012: Location, location, location: Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Conference on Information Systems 2012. ACIS.

  • Tankard, C. (2016). What the GDPR means for businesses. Network Security, 2016(6), 5–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tian, J., (2005) Software quality engineering: testing, quality assurance, and quantifiable improvement. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Toroi, T., Raninen A., and Vaatainen L.. (2013) Identifying process improvement targets in test processes: a case study. In Software Maintenance (ICSM), 29th IEEE International Conference on. IEEE.

  • Union IT International Telecommunication Union. Available from: https://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspx.

  • Wiklund, K., et al. (2013) Impediments in agile software development: an empirical investigation. In International Conference on Product Focused Software Process Improvement. Springer.

  • Wiklund, K., et al. 2014 Impediments for automated testing--an empirical analysis of a user support discussion board. In Software Testing, Verification and Validation (ICST), 2014 IEEE Seventh International Conference on IEEE.

  • Yeatts, D.E. and Hyten C., (1998) High-performing self-managed work teams: a comparison of theory to practice. Sage.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Raluca Florea.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Florea, R., Stray, V. The skills that employers look for in software testers. Software Qual J 27, 1449–1479 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11219-019-09462-5

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11219-019-09462-5

Keywords