Test Lead

Job Description:

Test leads check new computer systems and applications that are being created or upgraded.

Job Category:
IT Industry

What you will do:

On a typical day, you may:

  • learn about the products being developed
  • create tests for each stage of a product’s development
  • plan time and resources needed to complete the testing
  • manage what the testing team is doing
  • carry out manual and automated tests within deadlines
  • identify and record faults or ‘bugs’ so they can be fixed
  • review completed tests and analyse the results
  • check that new systems and upgrades are working correctly
  • write reports for the project management team


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • maths knowledge
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • organisational skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • persistence and determination (drive)
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Test Lead in the field of software testing or quality assurance, there are no specific subjects designed for this role. However, you can focus on subjects and skills that will help you build a strong foundation in information technology, problem-solving, and communication, which are essential for this role. Consider the following subjects and areas of focus:

  1. Mathematics: Strong mathematical skills are essential for problem-solving and data analysis, which are often a part of software testing.
  2. Science (Physics, Chemistry, or Biology): Developing a strong analytical and problem-solving mindset is important for software testing. Science subjects can help you build these skills.
  3. Computer Science: Understanding the basics of computer science and programming is crucial for software testing, as it helps you comprehend software systems and testing procedures.
  4. English Language: Effective communication is vital for software testers. English will help you develop written and verbal communication skills, which are essential for documenting test plans and reporting defects.
  5. Information and Communication Technology (ICT): This subject will provide you with a fundamental understanding of computer systems, software applications, and IT concepts, which are directly related to software testing.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

You could do a degree or postgraduate course in:

  • computer science
  • business information technology
  • software development
  • software engineering
  • maths

You may have an advantage when you look for work if your degree includes a work placement, internship or a year in industry.

You could do a software tester higher apprenticeship or a digital technology solutions degree apprenticeship.

Then you’ll need to get more experience as a software tester or similar job to become a test lead.

You could join a company as a software tester, for example through a graduate training scheme.

Once you have built up enough experience, you could apply for jobs as a test lead.

Direct Application
You could apply directly for jobs if you have 3 to 5 years’ experience in software testing and quality assurance.

You may also find it helpful to have:

  • experience in software development or systems engineering
  • managed a project
  • a professional certificate from a organisation like The Chartered Institute for IT (in the UK)

Working Hours and Environment:

Your typical woking hours could be variable.

You could work in an office, at a client’s business or from home.

Career Path & Progression:

You can be a test lead in any industry or sector.

With experience, you can:

  • specialise in a particular area, such as finance or telecommunications
  • move into IT project management
  • become a manager
  • work as a freelance contractor for IT and business services