How do I Become a Beta Tester?
Many companies engage in beta testing before releasing a new product or service to a consumer market. Essentially, a beta test involves using the new offering before it is completely ready for sale. Doing so makes it possible to find out how the product works in nearly any manner that a consumer is likely to use it. If you would like to become a beta tester, you'll need to be familiar with the industry in which you're trying to get a job, determine how much time you can dedicate to the job, and undergo training so that you can test the product and report your results accurately.
First, you'll need to examine your skill set to determine what types of goods and services you would be able to competently test. In general, you need to know something about the general nature of how to use the product in order to be able to effectively identify what works and what doesn’t work in the pre-release model.
For example, if you want to become a software beta tester, you will need to have at least some basic knowledge of how to load software on a computer and how to try out each function included in the software package. For people who wish to beta test services such as audio or video conferencing, having some idea of how to conduct a conference call or a video conference is necessary. Having some degree of familiarity with the general purpose behind the new product will make it much easier to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
In many cases, employers will have some basic requirements that an applicant must meet in order to become a beta tester, and one of those normally has to do with time. If you plan on making beta testing your full-time career, you will want to go for employment situations where you can earn a decent living. If you're looking for part-time employment to supplement your day job, however, it is important to make that clear when you apply for the position. Many companies need full-time and part-time testers, so you should not have trouble finding potential positions that will work with your overall goals.
To find potential employers, you can work with an employment agency or read the local job classified advertisements in the newspaper. Today, it is also possible to use the Internet to locate and apply for a wide range of beta testing positions. A simple keyword search can often yield a number of potential positions with a wide range of companies. You'll need to present yourself to your potential employers as someone who is knowledgeable, observant, detail-oriented, and dependable.
Once you have made the cut and been offered a beta testing position, your next step will be training. This will build on the qualifications you noted during the application process and allow you to get a firm grasp on what is expected of you as a beta tester. Job responsibilities will vary from one situation to another, and in some cases, you will be provided a listing of specific issues to test out and report on. Other employers prefer to allow beta testers to approach the new product in the same way that any consumer would. This strategy allows the beta tester to be more creative in trying different functions of the product under varying circumstances.
In either scenario, the beta tester reports his or her findings back to the developers, who can then use the data to refine the product and help enhance the final version. As part of the training process, new employees are often provided specific instructions on the format that must be used to report any and all findings related to the testing. This makes it easier to quantify the results and identify similar issues uncovered by several beta testers.
It's funny how the term "beta testing" has moved from software into other kinds of development. I know that writers often use this term for people who are reading their final draft in order to point out any last flaws before they send it to a publisher.
I didn't realize they use it for products and things as well. That would actually be really cool, being able to beta test new technology and products. I think, though, if I would going to try for that kind of deal I'd rather be a reviewer who got to try the product after all the kinks were worked out. Reviewers often get given free products as well, including computer games and books.
@pleonasm - The best games are really hard to become a beta game tester for. When you look at what might have been the most sought after beta testing opportunity in history, the beta test for the Pottermore website, they opened it to the first one million people who completed a fairly in-depth contest, and I know from experience that those one million positions were filled very quickly (I know because I didn't make it in time!).
I don't know how it always works for the bigger software makers, but sometimes beta testing is offered as an incentive on crowd-funding websites, so if you want you can buy your way into being able to beta test a new game.
If you want to beta test software, but aren't too worried about doing it for a living or anything like that, the best thing to do is just keep an eye on the companies you want to test for. They will often release alpha and beta versions of the games to the general public, or announce that they want beta testers on their mailing lists or blogs. Then it's just a matter of signing up. Often they only want a small number of people, so you will have to be lucky.
If you want to become a professional game tester, I think you need more than luck. You need to study video games and programming and make yourself worth hiring, since that kind of position is most likely extremely sought after.
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