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Career profile Software Test Engineer

Also known as Application Integration Engineer, Computer Consultant, Information Technology Analyst (IT Analyst), Product Assurance Engineer, Quality Assurance Analyst (QA Analyst), Software Quality Assurance Engineer (SQA Engineer), Software Quality Engineer, Software Test Engineer, Systems Engineer, Test Engineer

Software Test Engineer

Also known as Application Integration Engineer, Computer Consultant, Information Technology Analyst (IT Analyst)

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$65,210 - $170,100 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Modify existing software to correct errors, allow it to adapt to new hardware, or to improve its performance.
  • Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements.
  • Recommend purchase of equipment to control dust, temperature, or humidity in area of system installation.
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What does a Software Test Engineer do?

Software Test Engineers develop and execute software tests to identify software problems and their causes.

In addition, Software Test Engineers

  • test system modifications to prepare for implementation,
  • document software and application defects using a bug tracking system and report defects to software or web developers,
  • create and maintain databases of known defects,
  • may participate in software design reviews to provide input on functional requirements, operational characteristics, product designs, and schedules.

What kind of tasks does a Software Test Engineer perform regularly?

Software Test Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Design test plans, scenarios, scripts, or procedures.
  • Document software defects, using a bug tracking system, and report defects to software developers.
  • Identify, analyze, and document problems with program function, output, online screen, or content.
  • Develop testing programs that address areas such as database impacts, software scenarios, regression testing, negative testing, error or bug retests, or usability.
  • Participate in product design reviews to provide input on functional requirements, product designs, schedules, or potential problems.
  • Document test procedures to ensure replicability and compliance with standards.
  • Plan test schedules or strategies in accordance with project scope or delivery dates.
  • Conduct software compatibility tests with programs, hardware, operating systems, or network environments.
  • Test system modifications to prepare for implementation.
  • Monitor bug resolution efforts and track successes.
  • Review software documentation to ensure technical accuracy, compliance, or completeness, or to mitigate risks.
  • Update automated test scripts to ensure currency.
  • Provide feedback and recommendations to developers on software usability and functionality.
  • Create or maintain databases of known test defects.
  • Install, maintain, or use software testing programs.
  • Install and configure recreations of software production environments to allow testing of software performance.
  • Monitor program performance to ensure efficient and problem-free operations.
  • Identify program deviance from standards, and suggest modifications to ensure compliance.
  • Design or develop automated testing tools.
  • Investigate customer problems referred by technical support.
  • Develop or specify standards, methods, or procedures to determine product quality or release readiness.
  • Conduct historical analyses of test results.
  • Perform initial debugging procedures by reviewing configuration files, logs, or code pieces to determine breakdown source.
  • Evaluate or recommend software for testing or bug tracking.
  • Coordinate user or third-party testing.
  • Collaborate with field staff or customers to evaluate or diagnose problems and recommend possible solutions.

The above responsibilities are specific to Software Test Engineers. More generally, Software Test Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

What is a Software Test Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Software Test Engineer is $110,140, and the average salary is $114,270. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Software Test Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Software Test Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Software Test Engineers earn less than $65,210 per year, 25% earn less than $84,020, 75% earn less than $140,470, and 90% earn less than $170,100.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Software Test Engineers is expected to change by 22.2%, and there should be roughly 189,200 open positions for Software Test Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$65,210 - $170,100
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Software Test Engineers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Software Test Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative, Conventional, and Realistic interests.

Software Test Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Software Test Engineers typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Software Test Engineers typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Software Test Engineer tend to value Achievement, Working Conditions, and Support.

Most importantly, Software Test Engineers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Software Test Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Software Test Engineers strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Software Test Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Software Test Engineers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Software Test Engineers need?

Many Software Test Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Software Test Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Software Test Engineers

  • 0.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 2.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 7.4% completed some college coursework
  • 4.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 51.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 30.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 4.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Software Test Engineers

Software Test Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, engineering and technology, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Software Test Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Software Test Engineers

Software Test Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Software Test Engineers need abilities such as problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, and inductive reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Software Test Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Critical Skills needed by Software Test Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Software Test Engineers frequently use skills like critical thinking, reading comprehension, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Software Test Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing computer programs for various purposes.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.