What is a Test Analyst?
A Test Analyst is the person responsible for testing computer hardware or software before it is packaged and sold on the open market. It is a position that requires a keen attention to detail, as Test Analysts are the last line of quality control. If a mistake gets through the Test Analyst and makes its way into the final product, an entire product launch can turn into a disaster.
The role of Test Analyst is an entry-level position in the IT industry. Candidates typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Information Technology as a whole is a rapidly growing industry, so it is safe to say that demand for Test Analysts will rise in the coming years.
Test Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
The role of Test Analyst is more intricate than it sounds. A Test Analyst’s duties include more than just running tests. The following list of duties and responsibilities popped up most in our research of several Test Analyst job descriptions.
Participate in the Development Process
In order for a Test Analyst to perform their other duties and responsibilities, he or she must be an active participant in the software development process. The Test Analyst often collaborates with the software development team during the incubation phase. Although Test Analyst is a very technical job, this particular duty requires competency in small group communication. Test Analysts are also involved in the software review process, as they are typically the person who identifies a bug and presents it to the software development team.
Analyze Application Requirements and Design Documents
An effective Test Analyst has to be able to read and analyze application requirements and design documents. This requires a basic understanding of software development industry jargon. This duty also requires above average analytical skills, as Test Analysts must be able to conceptualize the design process in order to address potential problems preemptively.
Develop Comprehensive Testing Structures
Test Analysts have to be able to bounce back and forth between being big-picture and detail-orientated. They must be able to see the big picture of a project to know the role all of the features in regards to the user experience. They have to be able to think as both a developer and average user in order to develop a testing structure that covers all bases.
Develop Test Plans
The Test Analyst is responsible for developing the test plans and protocol. They must ensure all test plans created adhere to both industry regulations and company standards. This duty also requires a degree of teamwork, as these test plans have to be communicated to the project’s stakeholders.
Execute Tests and Analyze / Document Results
This is where the Test Analyst spends their most valuable time. This is where the work of all of their aforementioned duties comes together. First they run their diagnostic tests. After that, they analyze the results and present their findings to decision-makers. If they find an issue, they meet with the software development team to address it.
Test Analyst Skills
Test Analysts are not as one-dimensional as one would think. It is a profession that requires much more than computer skills. Test Analysts have to be big-picture thinkers, yet they also must have an above average attention to detail. Identifying the source of a bug can be as small as a single error in one line of code. They have to have to be able to see the big picture of a project in order to develop tests that can find these small errors. In addition to their technical skills, Test Analysts must have certain soft skills to excel at their job. The following sections are a collection of skills we found to be most prominent in our analysis of Test Analyst job descriptions.
Core Skills: The following skills are the ones listed as required by most employers.
- Attention to detail
- Ability to see the big picture
- Planning and organizational skills
- Proficiency in document and report writing
- Ability to work in a team
- Awareness of Software Development Life Cycle
- Logical and critical thinking skills
- Proficiency with Agile Development software
Advanced Skills: Once you have the core skills down, you can focus on the following advanced skills that were listed as preferred by several employers
- Deep knowledge of software development
- Project management skills
- Coding experience
Tools of the Trade: Test Analysts may spend most of their time at a computer, but they still have tools required to do their job. These tools are:
- Program testing software, such as Hewlett Packard LoadRunner
- Web application development software, such as Apache Struts or Apache Tomcat
- Development environment software, such as Adobe ActionScript
Test Analyst Salary
According to online sources, the national median salary is $67,031. Those at the bottom end of the spectrum make $55,000, while those at the top of the spectrum can make more than $83,000.
Test Analyst Resources
Do you want to continue exploring the career path of Test Analyst? If so, use our resource list below to get started.
On the Web
SoftwareQATest.com – This site was founded in 1996 by Rick Hower. While the site still looks like it is stuck in the 90’s, the information is current. It is a great general resource for aspiring Test Analysts.
ThoughtWorks.com - ThoughtWorks is a general tech publication that covers macro and micro trends in the tech industry. Part of this work includes covering the latest testing trends, which is relevant to Test Analysts.
Association for Software Testing – This is a global organization of Test Analysts with monthly newsletters, classes and seminars for members.
American Society for Quality – Formerly the American Society for Quality Control, this is a general organization for the entire spectrum of Quality Assurance professionals. There are tens of thousands of Test Analysts among their 100,000 person membership.
Perfect Software and Other Illusions About Testing – Written by Gerald M. Weinberg, this book examines critical conundrums regarding software testing. It is an excellent read for those looking to explore the big challenges that Test Analysts face daily.
Critical Testing Processes – Written by Rex Black, this book covers 12 testing processes that every Test Analyst should master.
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