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Career Story: Software Testing Specialist

Software Testing Specialist

Job Title: Software Test Engineer

Type of Company: My company provides outsourced software and web site testing services.

Education: BA, Philosophy, Northwestern University •• Ed.M., Harvard University

Previous Experience: I worked for about 20 years in the software training and documentation field. In the process, I learned a lot about computers and software, which led to my current position.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for testing software or web sites that our company has contracted to test. This involves using all the functions in the software and making sure that they perform as expected. Sometimes, we check calculations (if applicable). On a web site, we click on all the links and run through all the functions, making sure that they work as expected. If we find errors, we write them up and submit detailed explanations of what happened and how to re-create the error.

Occasionally, I also test "web banner advertisements": the ads that are placed around the borders of web sites. These advertisements have to adhere to certain standards and certain size and animation restrictions. We have several different software tools that we use to check these ads to make sure they're the right size and that they run correctly and conform to the standards. We also simply watch them run to make sure that they're performing the way they're supposed to.

Sometimes we test software to make sure that it's compatible with both Windows and Macintosh computers (and that means all the different "flavors" of their respective operating systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Leopard and so on). We make sure that the software looks and acts the same way on all different kinds of computers.

I am also responsible for updating the computers in our computer lab, making sure they're running the latest software and the most current revisions of the Windows or Macintosh operating systems.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the depth of knowledge I've acquired about computers and software. This is very important in today's world. I learn a lot just by seeing a huge number of different software programs designed to do many different things. And I always learn something new from each project.

Job Tips: Learn as much about computers as you can. This includes the hardware and how it works, and as many different software programs as you can, including word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software. Also, spend time on the World Wide Web to see as many different types of websites as possible. A computer science degree would also be helpful but it isn't a must.

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