A little bit of context... At my workplace, software test engineers (SWET) have access to source code. That doesn't mean that SWETs must review the source code, but more so have access in case they wish to review the source code.

If the source code for software component A was to be reviewed and understood, with the understanding of A applied to the testing process, by the SWET then the testing they would engage in would be called "white-box testing".

Likewise, if the source code for software component B was to be reviewed and understanding was limited then that type of testing would be called "gray-box testing".

Finally, if the source code for software component C was not made available to the tester, or it was available but neither reviewed nor understood, then this kind of testing would be called "black-box testing".

At my workplace, all 3 testing processes are applied. When describing the kind of testing done at my workplace to potential employers or friends unfamiliar with software testing, is using the term "software testing" the most suitable term? I choose this term because it indeed encompasses the previous testing processes. However, I recognize that it does not clearly convey the 3 testing processes and leaves out the explicit "(color of the) box" testing, which higher-ups and potential employers jump after or which friends may be familiar with due to the "buzz" of such terms.

  • What is wrong with Software Testing? Why do you think it does not represent all the boxes colors?
    – Alexey R.
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 23:52
  • @AlexeyR. When I think of "Software Testing", I think of unit testing, or integration testing, or regression testing; the boxes' colors do not come to mind. Is there a better term to convey the "box testing", so to speak, that's included in Software Testing?
    – natn2323
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


Everywhere I have worked, we referred to all the boxes collectively as "Software Testing". Also our black, white, and gray-box testers were also just referred to as "Test Engineers".

The only exception I can think of, is for "Test Automation". But I do not think this is exactly what you are looking for.

I understand the concern about ambiguity, but I have not heard of a better name.


You're asking two different questions. One is about how to explain what you do to potential employers, and one to friends.

Friends is the easiest; unless they also do some sort of software development, "Software Testing" is fine. "Software Engineer" would probably be fine as well, though you may not want to use that term to distinguish yourself from someone who focuses on writing shipping programs. I do think there's value in making more people aware of software testing/quality assurance as a field, though. But for most people, computers are magical boxes, and the people who work on them wizards. The distinctions aren't relevant.

Potential employers are more likely to understand black box/white box testing terminology. I'd probably avoid using grey box testing by itself, as it doesn't tell someone much, unless you're actually in an interview, and can give more detail what you mean. In general, white box testing indicates testing closer to the code, while black box testing is more testing at an integration or system level, usually. Ideally, you'd use the ISTQB terms, and they'd understand them, because there are formal definitions for different sorts of testing, but there's no guarantee that's the case.

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