What Determines Your Worth as a Software Tester?

The Importance of Independent Testing

Often, those outside of the testing community are ignorant to its inherent value. Many, particularly those in charge of development, are inclined to view testing as a barrier to timely release dates, complaining that investing in testing is a waste of resources or cash.

These people are, of course, mistaken.

At its heart, the role of a tester is to find bugs in particular programs, validate functions and verify that the program conforms to expected requirements. Providing information to stakeholders concerned with milestones, decision points and defects, software testers facilitate informed decisions.  An investment in thorough and accurate testing is an investment in quality – cutting down time taken to market release and minimising the amount of out of development fixes required.

Historically, the argument posed by Project Managers reluctant to allocate a budget to testing is that it costs too much and promotes hostility between the test and software development teams. This is often based on a belief that the software developers will be examining their code in the same detail, with the same objectives as the test team. However, typically, developers have a very different mind-set to those involved in testing and QA, and thus a disparity between the tests they run and the bugs they discover is inevitable.

Whilst the internal costs arising from independent testing teams may be significant, these are almost certainly lower than the costs arising from external failures.  Since the cost of fixing a defect increases over time, factoring in technical support overheads and the cost of releasing a fix into the field, it is often extremely worthwhile to invest in testing during the development stages of a project. 

The Role of Testing Within an Agile Development Model

The disparity between software development and software testing changes hugely within organisations employing the Agile methodology.

Within Agile organisations siding towards a generalist approach to development, the line between testers and developers is blurring. Previously, testing happened after the coding effort, since testers were required to ensure that the software worked, find bugs in an almost finished project, and ensure that the requirements were met.

The Agile working environment suggests that this role is changing – testers must be involved from the beginning of a project. Here, a strong software tester/QA will work to reduce the amount of defects both in production and when approaching completion.  

One of the few things people tend to agree on is that to deliver working software quickly, teams need automation in place. *

A shift towards Agile development may well signal an increase in the necessity for testers to learn to code in order to incorporate this automation in their new dynamic roles. Should this become the prevailing trend within software development, those testers who possess these skills may well find themselves highly desired by organisations seeking to embrace the Agile manifesto.

So what is my Worth as a Software Tester?

The average salary of those working commercially within software testing in the UK is £24,750. However, those working within the secure sector or those who possess experience with SQL, Java, C# or Test Automation will earn significantly more.

Those in possession of SC or DV Clearance, alongside the relevant experience and qualifications in ISTQB or ISEB, can expect to earn between £30,000-£60,000 dependent on location and depth of experience.

Whilst the inherent value of testing varies in accordance to the business perspectives of the organisation, the key role this discipline plays in mitigating risk and influencing business strategy means it should not be overlooked.

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