The Beta Software Tester

Let me paint a scenario that you have no doubt encountered: you get a new laptop and all the software runs smoothly – for the first few months, at least.

But pretty soon, little boxes pop up that notify you of a new version of the software is available. It seems that certain programs, like iTunes, MS Word, or Adobe Acrobat, release new updates every couple of months.

And more often than not, after you download and install the update, the program works better. Either a little bug you’ve noticed has been fixed or it just runs smoother.

If you’re like me, you’ve always assumed that there’s a big room at Microsoft HQ filled with high-paid programmers who do nothing but comb through lines of code, adding a decimal point here, an extra zero there, until the program is perfect.

But that’s not the case. There is no big room filled with programmers whose job is to catch the little bugs, at least not these days when everyone has access to a computer. No, the major software companies, like Microsoft, Adobe, and Apple, as well as medium and small businesses, use what are called beta testers to give their software test runs and figures any issues that need to be fixed.

And if you use a computer and have easy access to high-speed Internet, you already qualify to become a freelance beta tester.

Today’s Software Landscape

High-speed Internet has allowed companies to release new software earlier than before – you download it rather than buy a disk in the store. And they can still be sure that down the road they can release free updates online to fix the inevitable hiccups that always creep into a new program.

So how does a company identify the specific problems? They use beta testers. These are basically freelancers who get a free copy of new software before it’s released – software in its “beta” version – or, in some cases a program already on the market but in need of tweaking – and run it through its paces.

You essentially use the program and whenever it crashes or stalls or fails to do something it should be doing, you send in a detailed report. You click all the buttons, try to use it in everyday situations, and basically really use the software.

That’s why you don’t need any experience as a software engineer. As a beta tester, a software company actually wants people with only basic knowledge of computer use; they want to see what problems the average user will come across.

The salary range for beta testers is $8-20 an hour. If you do it as a freelancer, you can expect to start at the low range – which can still amount to $20,000 a year – but as you prove yourself and form relationships with software companies, you can expect to be given more involved programs to test. That means you’ll get paid more for your efforts. And remember this is a part-time job and you can set your own schedule.

There is also a relatively new aspect to beta testing that you may find exciting: beta testing mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, like the iPad. There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the Apple iTunes Store and the Google Play market place. That opens hundreds of more beta testing positions for you.

All you need is a mobile device to get started. So bust out your Apple – or Android – device!

Where to Find Beta Testing Jobs

The beauty of being a beta tester is that there’s only one requirement: you need to have a computer and access to the Internet. With that you are qualified to start making serious money testing the latest pieces of software from the top software companies in the world. And you can do it all from home.

To find your dream job, try targeting companies you already know, like Microsoft or Adobe. Large software companies have offices across the country and the world, so there’s a very good chance you have one in your backyard and just never knew about it. You can also do a little research for companies in your area who might want to interview you first in person. But the majority of beta testing opportunities don’t require face-to-face meetings.

Small companies are also hiring all the time. Scan the names of the creators of some of the software you already use or see advertised online and check their sites for opportunities as well. These companies are a great place to start if you’re a new beta tester. Once you have some experience under your belt, you’ll be much more attractive to the higher-profile companies.

Online job boards like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com are also good places to land beta testing jobs. When I last checked each had 100+ listings. Freelancing platforms like Elance.com are also good places to check.

In the meantime, sharpen your eye for all those little bugs that crop up when you install the latest update for iTunes or install new software. Those little bugs could pretty soon become big money.

I wish you the best of luck!

John Hollister

P.S. I just gave you the best tips and best practices to start making money as a software tester today. But here are a few more resources to help you score your dream career.

Resources

Beta Testing Opportunities

http://www.kaspersky.com/downloads/beta_testing

https://www.onlinebeta.com/

http://www.centercode.com/beta/

http://jobs.careers.org/i/search/beta-tester

http://www.besttopjobs.com/beta-testing

http://www.indeed.com

http://www.elance.com

http://www.simplyhired.com

Beta Testing Tips

http://www.wisegeek.org/how-do-i-become-a-beta-tester.htm

http://www.solidworks.com/beta/beta-testing-tips.htm

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BetaTest.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Beta-Tester


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