Software Testing Career: Job Description, Types of Jobs and Salary

From QA to engineering, learn about the software testing career path.

By University Alliance
Software Testing Career, Job Description and Salary

Businesses invest billions of dollars annually in software - and when it doesn't perform as expected, the repercussions can be far-reaching. Software testing jobs fulfill an important quality assurance function, supporting customers' productivity and a product's profitability. Professionals interested in a software testing career can find many potentially promising prospects, although the most desirable opportunities typically go to those with advanced training and International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB®) certification. A software testing certificate program can be a great way to attain the necessary knowledge and credentials.

Software Testing Job Duties

Software testing provides validation that a software application or product meets the technical requirement of a business, according to the specifications outlined during its design and development. Testing also verifies that the software will work as expected and can be implemented across all approved platforms with the same results.

Another important aspect of a software testing career involves assessing whether a software product is useful and adaptable by its intended users - whether they are industrial engineers, accountants or video game enthusiasts.

IT professionals at all levels - including test engineers, consultants, analysts and managers, as well as user acceptance and quality assurance testers - perform various aspects of software testing. Collectively, they apply software testing principles to reduce software defects, improve return on investment and increase profitability for companies of all sizes.

Entry- to mid-level software testing jobs - such as user acceptance testers - often involve assisting senior-level testers in creating test strategies and plans; developing detailed test conditions, cases and scripts; mapping requirements; and assisting in test execution. These specialists are often required to document test results, defects and issues, and help with developing solutions.

Senior-level software testing jobs - such as software test engineers - usually require advanced training and certification. Job duties typically include writing test conditions and scripts based on specification documents, as well as performing test plan development and ad hoc, Web and application testing. Many software test engineers work with vendor engineering and support teams to investigate bugs reported by customers. This involves reproducing each error, determining a solution and prioritizing the required fixes. Senior software testers may also lead troubleshooting meetings with internal and external partners.

The next step on a software testing career path could be a job as senior software test quality assurance engineer. These highly qualified professionals have a greater level of responsibility; they often collaborate with product managers and application developers to thoroughly understand new software product and user goals, software architecture and design, and internal and external interfaces. They then take the lead in driving product quality so their company can reach its sales, customer retention and profitability objectives.

With additional work experience, training and certification, professionals can transition from a mid-level software testing career into a higher-paying senior-level or managerial role. In this type of position, supervisory and analytical skills increasingly come into play. Advanced training will ensure success at this level, as individuals in these roles are often expected to contribute to Lean Six Sigma and ISO 9001/ISO 14001 certification processes and other cost reduction efforts.

Software Testing Jobs

Software testing jobs can range from entry-level, to senior-level, to manager and director positions. Here is a sampling of software testing jobs you might find:

  • Software Quality Assurance (QA) Job Descriptions
    • QA/System Test Engineer: QA/system test engineers are responsible for system-level testing of software platforms and infrastructure, through writing test plans, testing specifications and certifying requirements. Often working with global companies like MCI, they design, develop and execute automated or manual tests, utilities and test automation tools.

      QA/system test engineers also create test schedules, identify quality issues, track software defects, perform quality assessments and report quality status. Additional duties for this software testing job include performing testing on loads, stress, uptime and scalability, as well as serving as a quality advocate to identify product weaknesses and improve processes and procedures. Often, they will mentor junior software test engineers.

    • Senior Software QA Engineer: Top IT companies depend on these high-level professionals to support production staff and software engineers in improving design quality. They typically provide automation strategies and testing methods to ensure compliance with software design and requirements specifications. Senior software QA engineers also test products through all phases of the development life cycle, including functional testing, regression/integration testing and performance testing. They are often required to develop custom test tools to solve customer-reported problems.

      Professionals in this senior-level software testing career also develop automated tests at either the application programming interface (API) or user interface (UI) level of moderate or greater complexity, and employ best test practices in their design. Often, they will oversee QA work across multiple projects. A senior software QA engineer typically works toward continuous process improvements to increase the efficiency of QA and development. Some may coach and mentor other QA staff, as well.
  • Software Test Engineer Job Descriptions 
    • Software Test Engineer: Software test engineers often work for technology companies executing test strategies to ensure a product is compliant with design specifications and user expectations. They may write and execute automated test plans and cases, and analyze and report code bugs. Individuals in these software testing jobs are typically involved in white box and black box testing, regression and load/performance testing, and application security testing.

      The main duties of a software test engineer are providing continuous test improvement and feedback to resolve issues, ultimately helping a software provider meet customer demands by delivering properly performing products in a timely manner.

    • Senior Software/Web Test Engineer: In this type of senior-level software testing career, test engineers build and support cloud-based infrastructure and caching systems behind a variety of APIs used in mobile devices and personalized websites. They will often supervise the design and development of test strategies, test plans and automated test cases for merchandising or other product delivery systems.

      They will also typically analyze data and present their findings to senior management and other stakeholders. Some may interface with software developers to influence design with testability in mind. Overall, the senior software test engineer's responsibility is to work closely with all project stakeholders to ensure a successful, high-quality software release.


Many senior quality assurance and software test engineers are considered expert advisors in their companies. Senior-level software testing jobs generally require proficiency in writing automated tests in a variety of programming languages, as well as solid experience in a broad range of operating systems. A demonstrated commitment to continuous education is expected by most employers.


A senior-level software testing career usually means interfacing with professionals at all levels of an organization. Individuals in these types of roles often work with support staff, product engineers, software developers, release management and external customers to resolve issues. Some may function as the customer's liaison or an advisor to executive management.

Software Testing Career Salary Potential

Salaries in this field can vary by role, industry, employer and geographic region. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for computer systems analysts - a category that includes software testers - was $81,190 as of May 2013. However, specialized training and certification can lead to substantially higher salaries. BLS findings showed that professionals in the top earning bracket of this field made upwards of $125,460 per year, while bonuses and profit-sharing can drive earnings even higher.

When professionals obtain the training and certification required for a senior-level role, they might also enjoy a corresponding increase in pay. Most often, the best and highest-paying software testing jobs go to professionals with a combination of experience, industry certification and specialized training.

Education and Training

While software testing jobs have different education requirements, employers often expect candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering or related field. Senior-level positions usually require advanced training in programming, developing, and executing automated testing tools and processes.

In addition, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have attained certification, such as the ISTQB® Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) credential. Industry-specific experience or knowledge in fields such as finance, investing, accounting, video gaming or manufacturing can also enhance marketability.

While the path to a software testing career often begins with a bachelor's degree, professionals who seek advancement frequently pursue specialized software testing training through continuing education programs, such as the 100% online master certificate program offered by Villanova University.

Villanova's Master Certificate in Software Testing helps students develop the critical skills required for such positions as test analysts, test engineers, test consultants, test managers, user acceptance testers and software developers. Those who complete the three-course program have the advanced knowledge and abilities needed to:

  • Develop and execute manual and automated test suites
  • Exhibit fluency with bug tracking systems and quality assurance tools and techniques
  • Demonstrate mastery of regression testing and impact analysis in testing
  • Apply different phases of testing to real-world business software problems
  • Sit for the ISTQB® CTFL exam, with the benefit of practice tests covering each module's important terms and standards
  • Successfully compete for the most sought-after software testing jobs

Students receive a handsomely framed certificate of achievement from Villanova University upon completion of each course and the entire master certificate program. They also have the opportunity to earn valuable professional development units (PDUs) and continuing education units (CEUs).

Are You Ready to Advance Your Software Testing Career?

Whether you're looking to land a job as a software tester or get promoted to a senior-level role, continuing professional education can take your software testing career to the next level. With advanced training and industry certification, you can move up the ranks: from an entry-level role, to senior software testing engineer, to a managerial position - or even director of software quality assurance. Villanova's 100% online Master Certificate in Software Testing program will prepare you for ISTQB® CTFL certification and distinguish you as an expert software tester who is capable of reducing software defects, improving product quality and enhancing business success.

Category: Software Testing