Career Advice

17 key skills for software testing

Academy Services Team

Software testing is a versatile role that requires a wide range of key software testing skills, including technical, analytical and soft skills.

According to GMI, the Software Testing market is expected to grow by more than 7% year-on-year from 2021 to 2027. Do you know what that means? A boom in demand for Testers and plenty more job opportunities for you! So, it’s now time to brush up on your Software Testing skills and make sure you’re well-equipped for hiring season.

We will cover…

What is Software Testing?

Software Testing is a key part of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) that involves examining the artefacts, functionality and performance of software under different loads and in various environments. Software Testing allows development teams to determine the quality of software, establish whether the software meets requirements and identify potential defects before and after release, or following updates.

Software Test Engineer’s roles and responsibilities

A Software Test Engineer is responsible for the testing phase of the SDLC to ensure that the programme or application functions as expected. Software Testers will use a variety of testing techniques within their role to do this, including manual testing, automation testing and more. Day-to-day responsibilities for a Software Test Engineer may include:

  • Reviewing and validating user stories and requirements
  • Executing all levels of testing, such as system, integration and regression
  • Developing automation scripts when required
  • Identifying software defects and providing solutions
  • Providing software improvement recommendations
  • Creating relevant documentation, such as test plans
  • Communicating project updates with IT teams and stakeholders

Although a Software Tester occupies a highly technical role, it is not always necessary to have a related degree or extensive experience to get started on this career path! However, it is important to do your research and understand exactly what the role entails, what will be expected of you in an entry-level role and the skills you will need to excel in your team.

Are you preparing for a Software Tester job interview? Read our top 40 Software Testing interview questions to help you prepare.

17 Key skills for Software Testing

We’ve outlined the top 17 key skills for Software Testing to help you get a better feel for the role and the skills you’ll require to succeed, including the soft skills and technical skills required for Software Testing. During your job interview, it will be important to draw upon these different skills, and provide scenario-based answers and examples to demonstrate your abilities. Let’s get stuck in…

Communication skills

Effective communication is an important skill to have, no matter what line of work you are in. Whether that’s by phone, email or in-person, you’ll be required to liaise with fellow team members, other departments, stakeholders, suppliers or customers.

According to recent surveys, 69% will hire graduates based on strong communication skills. In Software Testing specifically, communication skills are essential for liaising with the development team regarding bug reports, providing feedback and recommendations and turning technical terms into actionable insights that anybody can understand.

Analytical and logical mindset

An analytical mind will go a long way in Software Testing. Analytical skills in Software Testing are key as Testers will often be tasked with analysing complex systems and test results to identify bugs, seek out security threats and provide effective solutions to tackle these challenges. To do so, you will need to be highly analytical and adopt a logical approach to problem-solving.

Project Management skills

Working as a Software Tester, you need to be dependable and take accountability for your work. This means working within project management standards to ensure projects are carried out efficiently with minimum roadblocks or miscommunications. It can be useful to shadow your superiors to sharpen up your project management skills and make you a better team player.

Ability to follow procedures

Similarly, a good Software Tester will be able to follow important procedures, such as sign-off processes and documentation creation. Following procedures correctly will ensure legal compliance and help avoid miscommunications, which can save a company time, money and reputation.

Different organisations may use different documentation templates and protocols, so you should be able to easily adapt to use these correctly.

Interpersonal skills

Surveys reveal that 81% of corporate recruiters believe interpersonal skills to be an important skill to have.

Despite the common misconception that software professionals work independently, Software Testing can, in fact, be a highly collaborative and social role that requires excellent interpersonal skills. Conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, negotiation, active listening and patience are just a few of the most important interpersonal skills you can carry with you in any role – Software Testing included!

Attention to detail

A good Software Tester will have an eye for detail in order to identify even the most inconspicuous bugs. Small issues can have catastrophic consequences or a defective product, so it’s your job to look beyond the obvious, ask questions and scrutinise everything.

Eagerness to learn

Much like any other role in technology, the ideal candidate for a Software Tester is someone who takes a proactive approach and is eager to learn new things, and keep up with the latest advancements, trends and best practices.

Excellent time management and prioritisation

Managing your time efficiently is a crucial skill to have, including meeting deadlines, leaving time for feedback and tackling your workload in order of priorities. The ability to manage your own time will have a positive impact on the rest of the team and avoid delays, especially in an environment where you’ll find yourself having to meet tight deadlines on a regular basis. Some useful ways to become better organised with your time is to keep a to-do list, create daily action plans and set digital reminders to keep you on track.

Out-of-the-box thinking

Software Testing may be a technical role, however, it requires a great deal of creativity, too! A Software Tester will need to think outside the box to imagine nearly every possible scenario of use case to see what will break the software. A creative Tester is more likely to spot bugs and produce an overall better quality product.

It can also be useful to view projects from a ‘glocal’ perspective, understanding both the individual system components and the wider picture.

You should also be able to think of things from the end user’s perspective and think processes through logically. After all, a project is only truly successful if it is functional and fulfils user needs.


Similarly, it is useful to have a wider understanding of the business elements of the organisation in addition to the technical. In turn, this will help you understand the company’s sales objectives and which functions to prioritise, contributing to a higher quality product.


Adaptability will enable you to face new situations and tackle challenges head-on, such as dealing with frequent software updates and new features.

Additionally, taking on constructive criticism and suggestions from other Testers, and using their feedback to improve product quality is also an important quality to possess.

Automation testing

Automation is advancing at an astonishing rate and making its way to the forefront of the technology industry, and Software Testing is no different. Automation testing uses automation tools to increase the efficiency and accuracy of testing procedures, eliminate human error and provide faster feedback times. It is useful to get familiar with the top automation testing tools, like Selenium and Perfecto.

‘At FDM we provide training in the fundamentals of testing using the industry standard ISTQB Foundation qualification and practical testing projects as well training in test automation tools and frameworks to provide that technical knowledge required to thrive in complex test environments/scenarios.’

Daniel Horan, FDM product Owner

Programming languages

Proficiency in popular programming languages is essential for expanding your automation testing skills and collaborating more effectively with others in the IT department, especially Developers.

Preparing software tests

Preparing software tests is a technical skill required for Software Testing that involves three main elements: test plans, scenarios and cases. Working as a Tester, you should have the skills and knowledge required to complete all three.

Understanding of testing tools

It’s a given that working in Software Testing, you will be required to use a variety of Testing tools. Although you are not expected to know how to use every tool out there, you should be familiar with how each tool can be used to improve testing efficiency and efficacy. This could include bug tracking, API testing, security testing and GUI testing tools.

Agile working methodologies

Agile methodologies refer to different styles of project management, typically characterised by breaking projects into smaller iterations with greater cross-team communication. In an Agile environment, Testers, Developers and business teams will work together on a daily basis. The ability to work in these flexible work conditions is highly desirable to employers, and experience in different Agile environments will definitely help you shine in job interviews!

Reporting skills

Reporting is a huge part of your role as a Software Tester and you will be required to create a few different types of reports, such as test and defect reports. Reporting requires a high level of accuracy, precision and a keen eye for detail. For example, defect reports must include all the finer details, such as all identified defects, steps taken to fix these and the expected results. Test reporting is essential to ensuring a high-quality product through effective and timely feedback. Stakeholders will use the test report to make a decision on whether to release the software, make improvements or carry out further tests, so it’s important to get this right!

How to develop your Software Tester skills

Many of these skills can be developed through other areas of life, university experiences and previous job roles, particularly soft skills such as communication and creativity. However, some technical skills will require formal training or work experience to build a solid foundation. Entering the working world as a graduate, you will not be expected to have mastered these skills, but show a willingness to learn and a basic understanding of the concepts. Why not sign up to Testing magazines or blogs, have a look through Reddit or Quora, or expand your professional networking and connect with like-minded Testers online?

Looking to get started in Software Testing? Check out the FDM Software Testing Graduate Programme to kickstart your career without any prior experience!