Test engineers are people that can analyze processes, interpret the results of those analyses, and find ways of improving. This is a career for people who have an interest in tech and people who are lateral thinkers.
This article offers some guidance on just how to become a test engineer. We’ll also show you how you can take advantage of some of the opportunities that this field presents during the coming decade.
What Is a Test Engineer?
A test engineer uses testing tools, technical skills, and communication abilities to ensure that all products meet their specifications and quality standards. These professionals are also responsible for quality assurance.
A test engineer also uses automated and manual testing to identify project risks and then drafts plans to minimize those risks. Test engineers are the ones who create plans, scenarios, and procedures for software testing, which is why they are well placed to identify and fix poor performance.
Test Engineer Job Description
The test engineer in any organization is responsible for things like test cases and test suites, end-to-end user testing, regression tests, and software testing. The ideal person to fulfill a role like this is somebody with strong analytical skills and a solid grasp of how to use the automation tools required for the testing process.
A test engineer is somebody who is expected to work with teams. Those teams will include software engineers and software developers. They all work together to remove bottlenecks and make a more user-friendly product.
A test engineer is expected to conduct schematic reviews to ensure that all data and electrical paths in a product are working correctly. A test engineer will also be expected to conduct reviews on board layout, electrical specifications, and diagnostic specifications.
Test engineers are expected to manage projects and project deliverables. They do this by taking part in sprint planning sessions and project retrospectives and getting a firm handle of front end and backend architecture. A test engineer is also expected to shoulder responsibility for maintenance by managing test cases and automation frameworks.
Test Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
The average salary of a test engineer in the United States is around $74,000 per year. If you are working at the lower end of the software testing industry, you can expect to earn about $58,000 per year. If you are working at the higher end, you can expect to earn as much as $105,000 per year.
The average salary of a test engineer can also vary depending on the quality of the company you are working for, the state you are working in, and the amount of hands-on experience that you have with software testing. Your salary can also depend on the types of testing that you do or plan to do.
Your level of experience should not have too much of an impact on employability though, as the job outlook for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and software testers currently sits at 22 percent for the period 2020-2030. That level of job growth is considerably faster than what you will encounter in most other industries.
Top Reasons to Become a Test Engineer in 2021
A career in software testing is more accessible than you would think. Software development is an attractive option for people who have the technical knowledge required to thrive in their chosen field. If what you’re looking for is money, growth, and value, then becoming a software testing engineer will be great for you. We’ve listed even more reasons below.
- Work in multiple industries. While most software testing jobs are directly associated with computer systems design and other related services, software testing is also relevant in manufacturing, publishing, business, and insurance.
- Better job opportunities. Test engineers are essentially at the bottom of the ladder, but having a college degree in software engineering and some hands-on experience can open you up to more career opportunities later on.
- Collaborative environment. Because most of your work will involve working with development teams, soft skills are going to be required across the board.
- Essential role. Software testers are difficult to find and even more difficult to replace. While there are a lot of opportunities in the technology field, finding people with engineering knowledge and programming experience can still prove to be a challenge.
Test Engineer Job Requirements
The skillset associated with the job of a test engineer is quite broad, but a working knowledge of programming languages will provide a solid base on which to build your career. Below is an expanded list of the things that a software testing engineer is expected to know.
- Black box testing. The primary objective of black box testing is to test the functionality of an application without any prior knowledge of how it works.
- White box testing. Where black box testing is all about functionality, white box testing is all about examining the internal structures and workings of an application.
- Knowledge of Python. Python is a popular general-purpose programming language, which prepares you to work on a lot of aspects of software testing. Learning Python will take you a long way in this field of work.
- Statistical analysis. Strong analytical skills will make most aspects of software testing a lot easier to grasp. If you enroll for an engineering degree, this is a skill you will learn. It is also something you can learn if you decide not to pursue a degree.
Types of Test Engineer Careers
When you are a test engineer, your career can branch off into multiple sectors. Some of them are not even computer-related. Below is a glimpse of the career options that are available to you as a test engineer.
Quality Assurance Engineer
The primary function of a quality assurance engineer is to detect any problems that might exist with software before it is launched. To become a quality assurance engineer, you need to be comfortable with software testing, test planning, system testing, regression testing, and test automation.
A systems engineer’s job centers more around design and build-out work. That is just a little bit more than systems administration, but the job still incorporates some of the basics like the upkeep of servers, storage, and network troubleshooting. They also need to be familiar with systems engineering, engineering design, requirements analysis, and project management.
Mechanical engineers are expected to be knowledgeable about things like Computer-Aided Design (CAD), SolidWorks, machine learning, and software testing. It’s a different industry but not necessarily different work.
Test Engineer Meaning: What Does a Test Engineer Do?
Test engineers have to perform a range of tasks with confidence, from creating test plans to automating tests and interpreting their results. Below we take a close look at these and other essential tasks for test engineers.
As a part of the production process, a test engineer evaluates complex systems. They then create test plans and cases designed to simplify those systems while extracting maximum value from them.
As an extension of all that planning work, a test engineer then needs to automate the tests and interpret their results. Once done with the interpretation, the test engineer will set the wheels in motion for any remedial action that might be required.
Once that remedial action has been drafted, it is then the test engineer that will communicate with teams across the board to ensure that product quality is significantly improved. As such, this role requires strong teamwork and collaboration skills.
Essential Test Engineer Skills
The most common skills associated with software testing are test engineering, systems testing, test planning, and test automation. All of these are usually listed among the job requirements when applying for work in this field. However, there is a separate set of skills listed below that will have an impact on your employability and your earning potential in this line of work.
Product testing skills extend well beyond basic knowledge on the technical side of things. Product testing is about understanding your product and then creating and implementing the best development methods for that product. A software test engineer also needs to have strong communication skills, which makes them more effective in making necessary changes.
Robotics programming is essentially coding. Code is a set of written instructions that can be executed by a machine, whether it be a robot or a computer. Both can potentially fall within a test engineer’s scope of work.
The emphasis with any branch of systems engineering is placed on the design, integration, and management of complex systems over their respective lifecycles. That is a major component of test engineering.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Test Engineer?
You can become a test engineer by completing a coding bootcamp, which can be as short as 48 hours or as long as one year. Your career pathway and earning potential can be enhanced by pursuing something like an Associate Degree in Software Engineering, which can take you as much as two years to complete.
You could also opt for the more traditional approach of pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree at a college or university, majoring in computing or computer science. This route will take the longest but will help you develop a solid foundation for a career in the industry and open the doors to more opportunities.
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Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Test Engineer?
Yes, a coding bootcamp can help you become a test engineer. In fact, coding bootcamps will do more than just that; they will give you the knowledge you need for a successful career in the industry through career services and other forms of student support.
Some of the best software testing bootcamps out there include Clarusway, Coders Lab, Test Pro, and CodeFactory. Many of these bootcamps have plenty of financing options to help students pay for their programs. For example, Clarusway offers income share agreements and monthly installments.
Can I Become a Test Engineer from Home?
Yes, you can become a test engineer from home. Numerous online bootcamps can be done at your own pace and without any formal instruction, from the comfort of your living room and sometimes without paying anything. There are also plenty of computer-related courses online that give you the training you need as well as universities with high-quality degrees that can be taken remotely.
How to Become a Test Engineer: A Step-by-Step Guide
Before starting any professional career, there are three key boxes that you need to try and check off. First, you need to develop a firmer handle on what it is that you are potentially getting yourself into.
Second, you need to get the best education you can to ensure that you thrive once you start working. Finally, you want to be able to demonstrate to potential employers and clients that you are competent enough to complete the most important tasks that are associated with this work.
Step 1: Find Out What a Test Engineer Does
The most important step when embarking on a campaign to become anything in life is doing all the research you can to try and establish if you have the skills or desire for the job. Take your time with this step as figuring out your affinity for the job is crucial before initiating any course of study.
Step 2: Start Studying
If it turns out you do not have the skills required to do the work, there will be opportunities for you to start equipping yourself with the skills you will need. You can learn more about potential education options below.
Step 3: Get Practical Experience
Far more important than any certificate or certification is demonstrating the ability to do the work required. While education will be listed as a requirement on an average job listing, employers are more interested in people with work portfolios and demonstrable skills.
Best Schools and Education for a Test Engineer Career
The best schools and educational institutions for test engineers are those that equip students with the skills they need to work with performance testing tools. Schools that also equip students with important non-technical skills associated with the job are an even more compelling option for prospective test engineers.
Test Engineer Bootcamps
Coding bootcamps provide you with the coding base that you need to excel in this line of work. In a software testing bootcamp, you will learn complex software techniques that will set you apart from other prospective candidates. These programs can be completed in a matter of months. This means that if you start your training today you could start working as a test engineer in less than a year.
If you choose to go to a community college, the best idea is to complete an Associate Degree in Computer Science or a related subject. This is usually a two-year degree, depending on your pace of study. An associate degree will provide the base that you need for more advanced degrees, should you wish to pursue that route.
Test Engineer Degrees
A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science or a similar field should be more than enough for someone who wants to become a test engineer. Most employers are looking for candidates that have a bachelor’s degree.
The Most Important Test Engineer Certificates
The major certifications are sanctioned by the International Software Certification Board (ISCB). Many of them are done in partnership with the Quality Assurance Global Institute. Let’s take a look at three big ones.
Certified Associate In Software Testing
The Certified Associate in Software Testing (CAST) certification has been designed to demonstrate competence with quality testing principles and practices. To sit the examination, you need to meet one of the following three prerequisites.
The first requirement is that you complete a three or four-year degree at a college or university. You could also complete a two-year degree from a community college and have one year of experience in information services. The third option is that you have three years of experience in information services.
Certified Software Tester
The Certified Software Tester (CSTE) certification has been designed to demonstrate competence with the principles and practices of quality control in IT. If you don’t have at least a two-year degree, you need six years of practical experience in this line of work before signing up for the certification program.
Certified Manager of Software Testing
The Certified Manager of Software Testing (CMST) certification has been designed to demonstrate competence with software testing at a managerial or executive level. You must pass the CSTE certification before signing up for this exam.
You also need to be working in a relevant field. If you don’t have a degree, you must have at least eight years of software testing experience before you can sit this exam. If you have an associate or a bachelor’s degree, you need only six and four years of experience, respectively.
How to Prepare for Your Test Engineer Job Interview
Employers are looking for candidates who know how to do the job and possess meaningful practical experience. You’ll need to prove to employers that you are knowledgeable and many of your questions will be aimed at finding that out.
Test Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions
- What are the different methods of software testing?
- What are the different types of black box testing?
- Tell me about a time you solved a problem while conducting a test.
- What is a test case?
Should I Become a Test Engineer in 2021?
Yes, you should become a test engineer in 2021. Test engineers are needed across numerous industries, like manufacturing, tech, healthcare, insurance, and government. Test engineers have great earning potential, depending on the industry that you are in and the company that you have chosen to work for.
Test Engineer FAQs
Yes, as long as you can prove that you can successfully perform the job duties. Putting in the hours to get practical hands-on experience will serve you well.
No, as long as you put in the time and effort to learn the necessary skills. While the technical aspect of the job can be taught, none of the concepts are simple. If you have the curiosity and analytical ability required for this line of work, you should become a test engineer.
The fastest way to begin a career in testing is by attending a coding bootcamp. There are a few software testing coding bootcamps that can give you a start in the industry, teaching you all the techniques and tools that you will be using as a test engineer.
The cost of certification can range anywhere from $100 to $450, depending on the certification exam that you plan on taking. The higher the certification level, the higher the cost of testing.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.