What is a tester?

Hello Testing Community,

In the organisation that I work for I often get asked ‘what is a tester?’ or ‘what skills should a tester have?’. We have also been asked about the ‘T’ shaped skills and whether a tester should be able to span multiple disciplines i.e. UI automation, exploratory, API testing, or should a tester have a speciality in one area?

This got me thinking about the roles that we have in our organisation which currently separate the testing roles into testers who automate API tests, some who create UI automation (non scripted) and others who carry out ‘manual’ (yes I know this triggers a lot of people when described like this).

In my role I don’t carry out the API testing and we are only just dipping our toes in the water of UI automation, but I don’t consider myself to be a manual tester. I use the tools that I currently have at my disposal to ensure that the quality of the software that we develop is of a sufficient quality to be released to our customers. I also advocate the benefits of why we test help to guide others in what they should be considering when planning there own tests. Just because I can’t do the more technical side of testing does that make me any less valuable?

It would therefore be good to get the opinion of other testers as to what you consider a testers skill set should be, whether that is technical skills or soft skills and should we spread ourselves across multiple tool sets/skills where may end up being not able to bring benefit due to not having full expertise in the subject.