Software Testing Career Path: A Journey to Success

May 25, 2023

The career prospects in software testing are not well known to many people. As software gets more complicated, and the industry keeps growing, testing has become crucial for ensuring quality and reliability. It’s one of the most in-demand and fulfilling careers in the software industry right now.

As a recent graduate or someone wishing to switch to software testing, this article will help you peek at higher-level positions, the skills, experience, responsibilities, and knowledge at each level, and career growth opportunities.

Before heading off, it is worth noting that there is no fixed hierarchy or ladder in the career of software testing. It may vary depending on the company and industry.

In this article, we’ll discuss the general paths followed by Moolya, one of the leading companies in the software testing industry.

Let’s first understand the two important terms in software testing: Exploratory Tester and Software Development Engineer in Test.

Exploratory Tester (ET)

An exploratory tester works like a detective in testing. They use their detective skills, experience, and intuition to explore the system. They explore different paths, scenarios, and possibilities manually to find potential hidden bugs and understand how the software works. Exploratory testing is a creative and flexible approach that allows testers to adapt and adjust their strategies based on what they discover during the process.

Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)

SDETs can be called the superheroes of testing. They possess programming skills and are responsible for developing and maintaining test automation frameworks, tools, and test scripts. They write code to create automated scripts to verify the functionality and quality of software. These scripts can be executed repeatedly, saving time and effort in the testing process.

In short, an exploratory tester focuses on manually exploring and investigating the software, while an SDET combines programming skills with testing expertise to create automated tests and frameworks.  

Now, let’s explore the path of a software testing career.

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Associate ET/SDET

Associate Exploratory Tester/ Software Development Engineer in Test is an entry-level position in the testing career. Most people hired for this position either have zero experience in testing or have taken a few certification courses. As an associate, you work under the guidance of experienced or senior testers and enable the team to resolve issues by executing test cases, defect tracking, and test documentation.

Certain required skills:

  • Basic understanding of software testing concepts
  • Knowledge of testing techniques and tools
  • Proficiency in test case execution and defect tracking
  • Good analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills

Senior ET/SDET

After gaining some years (4-5) of experience in software testing, they ascend to the position of Senior Engineer in Test/ Software Development in a Test role. This is a more leadership-oriented role, guiding and mentoring junior team members. The extensive industry experience of a senior ET/SDET helps the team make a significant impact on the product’s quality. In addition to executing test cases, they contribute to test strategy development, test planning, and setting up test environments.

Certain required skills:

  • In-depth knowledge of software testing methodologies and best practices
  • Proficiency in test planning, test case design, and execution
  • Experience in test automation frameworks and tools
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities
  • Excellent communication and leadership skills

Test Lead ET/SDET

Test Lead is one of the roles in testing that comes with management capabilities. As quality testing is directly related to the quality team, you will be responsible for managing and building an effective team. Your role includes overseeing test activities, coordinating with stakeholders, and ensuring the team’s productivity and quality of deliverables.

Certain required skills:

  • Proficiency in leading and managing a team
  • Excellent project management skills
  • Knowledge of software testing methodologies and processes
  • Strong communication, interpersonal, and collaboration skills
  • An ability to identify and resolve testing challenges

Test Manager

Test management ensures an effective testing process and the success of the project. A Test Manager oversees the overall testing activities within the project or organization.  They are well versed in creating test strategies, resource management, stakeholder communication, risk management, and ensuring top-notch quality products.

Certain required skills:

  • Strong leadership and resource management skills
  • Proficiency in test strategy development and test planning
  • Experience in risk management and mitigation
  • In-depth knowledge of testing mythologies and process

Delivery Manager

A delivery manager is one of the leading roles in testing. They ensure the team delivers the product on time, within budget, and with the highest quality possible. You oversee the end-to-end testing process, manage resources, and collaborate with stakeholders and end users to plan and configure systems, finding solutions that meet their goals. Overall, a delivery manager ensures a seamless and successful delivery.

Certain required skills include:

  • Strong leadership and project management skills
  • Proficiency in resource allocation and workload management
  • In-depth knowledge of software testing processes and methodologies
  • Effective collaboration and stakeholder management abilities

Principal ET/SDET

A principal engineer in testing or software development engineer in test is recognized as an expert in software testing. In this role, you will contribute to the development and implementation of testing strategies, guide the team, and ensure high-quality deliverables. Your main focus will be on innovation, driving process improvements, and staying up-to-date with emerging trends in software testing.

Certain required skills include:

  • Extensive experience and expertise in software testing
  • Proficiency in designing and implementing testing strategies
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of emerging technologies and industry best practices

Senior Principal ET/SDET

Your evolution into a Senior Principal ET/SDET enables you to lead testing large-scale projects, guide your junior testers, and provide technical leadership in test best practices to help the team achieve the ultimate goal of testing.

Certain required skills include:

  • Strong knowledge of industry standards, trends, tools, and emerging technologies
  • Exceptional communication and influencing skills
  • Proven track record of driving innovation and process improvements
  • Extensive experience in software testing leadership roles

Solution Architect ET/SDET

A solution architect is not a very common role in testing, only organizations that focus greatly on the importance of automation and technologies have this role. They are the go-to experts for resolving complex testing problems. Your technical expertise is invaluable in identifying effective technologies and tools to enable the team to execute testing effectively.

Certain required skills include:

  • Highly experienced in software testing and architecture design
  • Proficiency in designing scalable testing frameworks
  • Strong understanding of software development life cycles (SDLC)
  • Ability to align technical solutions with business requirements


The director role in testing is the topmost position on the software testing career ladder. Your strategic direction, leadership, and vast experience drive the success of the testing organization. Being at the top of the ladder enables you to oversee multiple projects, manage budgets and resources, and ensure high-quality testing services for customers. Your leadership role involves collaborating with stakeholders, driving innovation, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Certain required skills include:

  • Proven leadership and management skills
  • Strategic thinking and decision-making skills
  • Financial acumen and budget management skills
  • Immense understanding of testing methodologies and trends
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Final thoughts:

Now that you are familiar with the various career opportunities and growth potential in a software testing career, you might have realized that each role has its own set of skills, responsibilities, and challenges. As you climb the ladder of experience and seniority, your expertise and level of responsibility will also increase. Remember–embracing an open-minded approach and an always learning attitude are the keys to climbing the ladder of success in a testing career.

So, if you’re looking for a career path that offers challenges, rewards, learning, immense growth, leadership opportunities, and a reputation, you should no longer wait to start your career.

We at Moolya ed help people like you break into the software testing industry. We promise to transform a passionate individual with zero experience into an industry-ready software tester in just 4 months of rigorous training. If you want us to be your companion in your software testing journey, let’s talk!:)

P.S. We also provide upskilling programs to help our fellow testers climb the next step of their career ladder. Visit our website to learn about our upskilling programs:

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