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I would like to know if there's a standard Skill set for Skill Matrix for a Software Tester of different levels, like for example, what are the skills needed for an Entry level tester as well as what technologies and responsibilities he needs. And for the Mid Level tester and Senior Level as well.

Note that I am working in a company who designs and develops websites.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

There is no standard anything in testing.

In very broad terms, all testers need to be observant and good communicators. Outside that, it depends.

First, there are several broad fields of testing, including:

  • security testing
  • manual testing
  • performance testing
  • automated testing

Expertise in one area is no guarantee of expertise in another.

Second, there are multiple business domains where testing is needed, including:

  • games
  • medical software
  • storefront software
  • ticketing software
  • payroll management software

Many organizations, particularly those in highly regulated areas, prefer to hire someone with no testing experience but a strong business domain experience.

Then there's the different skill-set focuses that are demanded by different software life cycles and development methodologies:

  • testers in an agile environment usually need to be more flexible and contextual than testers in a waterfall environment
  • testers in a waterfall environment with a well-understood, mature product may be expected to follow detailed test scripts

That said, some of the more common duties I've seen listed for the different levels include:

  • Entry level/Junior - following someone else's test plan or test charter; some experience with automation may be preferred but usually isn't required; independence and the ability to work without constant direction is usually preferred.
  • Mid level/Intermediate - writing and/or defining test plans and charters is pretty common; following your own plans or someone else's; automation experience can be required at this level, but not always; independence and self-directed is always preferable; mentorship of junior testers may be preferred.
  • High level/Senior - often writing/defining test plans and charters for large, complex projects; experience with automation is pretty common in job postings at this level; mentoring less experienced testers is another very common one; leading project test teams starts to show up at this level; building and maintaining automation frameworks and test tools can be involved.
  • Lead - test lead job postings usually start hitting the lower-level management skill-sets, like mentoring, managing work allocations, training, setting the team direction and so forth.
  • Manager - will cover everything from the lead list, plus hire/fire responsibilities (which requires having interviewing skills, being able to evaluate someone's performance, and so forth).

In my experience, security and performance testing have separate skill-set listings and are usually defined separately because of the specialized knowledge and skills involved.

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Good answer - I would add in the Lead/Manager category responsibility for team and work as a primary skill. In other words the buck stops there and you have to handle all circumstances under your jurisdiction regardless of the nature of the issue or your abilities. Any lead/manager who is not capable of this would not get the job or keep it. lead=technical | manager=everything (This is why there are many people who like to stop before the lead/manager because they don't want to be responsible for everything, they just like doing their technical work.) – mutt Sep 4 '14 at 16:37
Good point, mutt. In my experience Lead/Manager also ends up being the Speaker to Management for the team and the buffer between management and team members - basically taking management heat so the team members can get on with their job and translating between test-geek language and management language (they use the same words but mean different things) – Kate Paulk Sep 9 '14 at 10:56
To what Kate mentions, being a team lead/manager has also a huge personal/psychological impact on a team. Keeping the team mativated and improving their performance is often a key metric for such positions. – Daniel Zahra Apr 5 at 11:41

I worked recently on a matrix for my team and found it to be a great exercise to refine my thoughts on testing. Here is an example topic, Defect Management.

Section 1

Here are a couple of images of the Skill Matrix I developed and mentioned above:

Section 1

My matrix covers the following areas. You may want to add or remove to suit.

A great test matrix covers all the roles and experience levels.

It should cover these major areas with increasing levels of capability, this is not exhaustive but my initial pass and could be supplemented by any of you reading this:

Defect Management

Clear communication, Reproducibility, Proper Prioritization, Isolating (minimal steps to reproduce),

Advance Defect Management

Root cause analysis, Risk Management

Modelling and Planning:

Test plans, Mind Maps,

Test Design:

Selecting heuristics, Black Box Techniques, White Box techniques, Combinatorial Scenarios

Test Approach:

TDD, Identifying appropriate techniques


Tool selection, GUI and lower level test automation, working with developers, Continuous improvement integration

Business knowledge:

Product knowledge, Company/Culture awareness, cross departmental interactions, Industry interactions (learning from other testers, presenting at trade shows, writing papers)

Technical Skills:

Networking, Databases, OSs, Coding, Development Frameworks, Presentation systems (Client, Web, Mobile)


Teaching/Mentoring, Learning, Research Skills, Deductive reasoning, Pairing, Communication, asking questions, Critical Thinking, Systems Thinking, Time Management, Multitasking, Monitoring Progress, Testing Advocacy, Customer Advocacy


Situational awareness, Social Skills, Diplomacy, Writing/Presentation Skills

Risk Management:

Risk Assessment, Risk Control, Influencing overall development with a view to improve testability

If you need more help please let me know.

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Love the insight Tom. I went ahead and merged your answers into one. :) Thanks! – corsiKa Apr 5 at 21:06

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