Technology Careers: What Is A Validation Technician

If you have good written and verbal communication skills, consider a job as a validation technician. Here's some background information on this exciting career opportunity.

Software development companies are a great place to look for new career opportunities. One new area of growth is within software validation. There are a variety jobs within this category including the position of validation technician. Here's some information on this challenging, yet rewarding position. When new software is being developed, there are a number of stages during the process that must be checked and double-checked. A validation technician is responsible for reviewing the software at various key points and either approving the software or rejecting it.

The first stage of software development requires that the software engineers write up a set of technical specifications. This document outlines the purpose of the software, how it is supposed to work, what the user interfaces will be, and other important criteria. The validation technician reviews these specifications, looking for key elements and compliance issues. The validation technician also uses these specifications to write checklists, which are essentially lists of all the functions and steps the end user will utilize to make the software work.

If any questionable areas are identified, the specifications must be rewritten and resubmitted for approval. Once the specifications have been reviewed and approved, the project can proceed. Final checklists are completed at this point in development. Software is delivered for testing many times before it is released. These deliveries are called "builds." Each time the software is built, it must be tested. The validation technician uses the checklists that were written from the specifications and runs the software, checking off each element on the list. Usually, this testing is rated as pass, fail, or not applicable. Components of the software that fail are referred to as "bugs."

After each round of testing, the validation technician writes a validation report, which is submitted as part of the software release package. This report documents the problems that were encountered during the testing, the number of bugs that were discovered, and often, recommendations for fixing these errors. Each time a function fails and new bugs are discovered, the validation group must go through a formal process designed to notify the developers. Many companies accomplish this by using a software corrective reporting process - commonly referred to as writing an SCR.

There are a number of SCR software packages available, but essentially, they all work the same way. The technician opens an SCR, indicates the software package that they are testing, notes the nature of the failure, and sometimes recommends an alternative solution. They also write notes in the form. The report is then assigned to a particular individual and transmitted electronically to that individual.

Once the responsible individual has corrected the problem or problems, the code is then resubmitted for testing. These corrections are referred to as "fixes." Each bug requires a fix, which then must be included in a new build of the software. Validation tests the new build to ensure that the various fixes rectified the problems. When a problem has been adequately correct, validation will sign off on that issue. The process continues until all the bugs have been corrected and the technician can pass all the elements.

Once the process is complete, and all the bugs are fixed, the validation technician writes a final validation report and submits that report with the final release package. This report should document the entire testing process and is useful if future problems occur with the product.

Educational requirements for validation technicians vary depending on the complexity of the testing required. Some companies require a high degree of technical expertise, while others will train individuals who demonstrate technical acumen. One constant is that perspective validation technicians must have excellent organizational and communication skills. Written communication skill is critical. The documentation created by the validation department is often reviewed during quality audits and a company's overall quality rating can be negatively affected by sloppy reports.

Validation technicians must also be self-motivated, and able to act independently, while at the same time understanding when to take their concerns to the next level. Attention to detail is critical, and yet there are times when problems must be prioritized and issues ranked as to how important they are to the overall picture. Deadlines are also important in that timely software releases are critical to the financial success of the company. Above all, validation technicians must be team players.

Validation technicians generally report to a department supervisor who is directly accountable for the quality of the work in his or her group. The supervisor may report to the quality assurance manager or the director of the research and development department. The validation technician is usually protected by several layers within the organization, and someone must ultimately approve his or her work higher in the chain of command. Becoming a validation technician can be the first step towards steady career growth.

Salaries for validation technicians vary widely according to the industry, level of experience, educational background, and seniority. Obviously, beginners will earn far less than seasoned technicians who will command high starting salaries. Some companies offer incentives to people who meet or exceed deadlines, or offer added value to the process.

As the economy turns more to being technologically driven, more positions in the field of validation will become available. Cutting edge development continues to require trained and qualified individuals and the field is wide open for advancement and potential monetary reward. This is a field that will continue to grow, offering exciting opportunities in the future.

© High Speed Ventures 2011