As technology becomes even more present in our lives, the demand for qualified quality assurance engineers has continued to increase.
Quality Assurance (QA) engineers are responsible for making sure that the code other developers write is up to a certain standard, and does not include any bugs or problems. Software bugs can be costly to any company. Therefore, companies are willing to pay talented QA engineers who can help a company push high-quality software all the time well.
How do you become a quality assurance engineer? In this guide, we’re going to answer that question. We’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether a career as a quality assurance engineer is for you. We’ll also give you access to helpful resources on expected salaries, training programs, and other information which will help you kickstart your new career in this exciting field.
What is a Quality Assurance Engineer?
A quality assurance engineer is a type of programmer who monitors every stage of the software development process to ensure that a company’s software is in line with its standards. Quality assurance engineers will also make sure other developers meet their deadlines by informing other developers of issues in their code before a project or feature is expected to be completed.
The main duty of a QA engineer is to identify bugs and potential problems within software, then report them to other members of a software development team. They’ll also be responsible for planning and performing different stages of testing, and documenting progress and results from test on specific programs. Here are a few other job responsibilities QA engineers will have:
- Code automated tests
- Code Create software test plans
- Discover bugs or problems within a program
- Develop standards and policies to ensure code quality is high
- Identify any problems that users may encounter
- Perform automated and manual testing
- Track the results of tests
- Document test cases
If you’re looking to learn more about other jobs in software development, check out our software engineering career guide.
Quality Assurance Engineer Job Description - What Does a Quality Assurance Engineer Do?
Quality Assurance engineers are involved in every stage of the product development process, ensuring that the quality of code written by other engineers is high.
They have to explore potential problems and bugs that may exist within a program, and ensure those problems are resolved before code is pushed to production.
Before a project starts, QA engineers may collect information about the goals of a project, and write policies to prepare for code testing. They’ll also be responsible for setting up processes to ensure all code is reviewed and checked by a QA engineer before it advances to the next stage in the software development process.
In addition, QA engineers will ensure that when the end product is released, any bugs are resolved timely, and will ensure the quality of any software updates.
Quality Assurance Engineer Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track the job outlook of QA engineers. That said, the Bureau reports that employment of software engineers is projected to grow 21 percent by 2028, which is “much faster than average.” This growth indicates that skilled QA engineers may increase in demand, as QA engineers will be needed to review the code written by other software developers.
Quality Assurance Engineer Salaries - How Much do Quality Assurance Engineers Earn?
Quality assurance engineers command impressive salaries. According to Glassdoor, Quality Assurance engineers earn between $57,000 and $108,000. The national average salary for QA engineers is almost $82,000 per year.
That said, it’s hard to predict exactly how much you’ll earn as a quality assurance engineer -- your salary will vary depending on the company for which you work, and the place in which you live. QA engineers at large companies like Google or Oracle, which have large codebases, can expect to command higher salaries than engineers who work at startups.
In addition, the average QA engineer would earn over $72,600 in Atlanta , whereas the same engineer would earn over $95,700 in San Francisco. Indeed, location really does matter.
The amount you earn will also depend on your experience. Senior quality assurance engineers, who have more experience than other QA engineers, can expect to earn salaries on the higher end, of the QA salary spectrum, whereas junior engineers will earn less. It’s important to note this does not include employee benefits or perks, or stock options -- you should take this into account when evaluating a job offer.
How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)
How Can You Become a Quality Assurance Engineer?
There are many different paths you can take to become a QA engineer, but the most common routes people take fall into one of the following paths:
- Attend a short-term coding bootcamp specializing in software development
- Earn a Computer Science degree at a traditional college or university
- Learn software development through self-study
Each path has its own benefits and drawbacks. In the past, QA engineers were college graduates or self-taught programmers. However, recently a new option has emerged for people looking to learn about software development: coding bootcamps.
Coding bootcamps offer a viable alternative to college where, instead of spending four years in college, aspiring software developers can spend less than a year acquiring the practical skills they need to pursue a specific career in tech. In addition, students receive career mentorship and support, which helps bridge the gap between training and employment.
Companies that Hire Bootcamp Grads
How to Learn Quality Assurance Engineering
There’s more than one way to learn about QA engineering. Some QA developers attend a college or university and pursue a degree in computer science or a similar technical field. Other developers have taught themselves how to code, and do not have any formal coding education. However, a new way to learn about computer science has recently emerged: the coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps, which usually last between three and nine months, are intensive training programs designed to equip people with the skills they need to pursue a career in the tech industry. Bootcamps often specialize in specific fields such as UX design or software engineering, so you can focus on learning the exact skills you need to pursue your dream career.
Top Skills Needed for Quality Assurance Engineering Careers
To thrive in your career in QA engineering, you’ll need to have a few technical skills. Let’s break these down into two categories -- “hard” and “soft” skills -- starting with technical “hard” skills.
Essential Technical Skills for Quality Assurance Engineers
There are a few technical skills you’ll need to have to succeed as a QA engineer. These software engineering skills include programming languages, technical frameworks, and other abilities.
- Knowledge of a Programming Language.
You’ll need to know at least one programming language in order to become a QA engineer. While your job may not involve making direct changes to the codebase, you’ll be governing test cases and quality assurance code, which you’ll need to write and edit yourself. The exact language you need to know will depend on the type of code you want to work with -- web development, software development, embedded systems, etc. For example, if you want to work as a web QA engineer, you’ll need to know HTML, CSS, and JS.
- Test Cases.
You should be able to create test cases for an application, as well as plans on how to execute those tests. Test cases should cover anything from edge cases to common platform functions to ensure code is prepared for production and does not include any problems or bugs.
You will not have to test every line of code yourself -- there are tools which can assist in the QA process. You should be aware of automation tools such as CircleCI for continuous integration, and you should also be able to create your own automation scripts using open source tools.
- Agile Development.
Agile development is a type of software engineering methodology where code moves through a series of stages but may be iterated on over time. You should be aware of how Agile development works, and how you can implement it in practice.
- Bug Tracking.
You should be able to effectively identify, record, and document any bugs which may be discovered during testing. These bugs should then be reported to the member of the software development team who is responsible for the code, to ensure a timely fix is applied to the error.
Essential Soft Skills for QA Engineers
To be a successful QA engineer, you’ll need more than just technical skills. You’ll also need to have a series of interpersonal skills to thrive. Here are a few of the “soft” skills you should have:
- Problem Solving.
QA engineering is all about finding and solving problems. You have to analyze a codebase in-depth to uncover any potential issues, then figure out the cause of those issues. You’ll also have to figure out how to create an effective QA process for an organization based on your unique needs.
QA engineers do not work in isolation -- they are part of the broader development team. They have to be able to work effectively with other developers, as well as people from other departments who may need to know the state of a project. You should be able to communicate well with others, and be comfortable discussing technical concepts to non-technical people.
- Time Management.
You’ll be working as part of a broader software development team, which will be given a deadline by which certain projects must be complete. You should be able to finish your work within reasonable deadlines, and be conscious of the deadlines other people within the software development process may have.
How to Become a Quality Assurance Engineer: Step-by-Step
Here are the steps you should follow if you’re interested in a career in QA engineering:
- Learn software development through a coding bootcamp, self-study, or college
- Develop and refine your technical skills
- Build your software development portfolio
- Write your technical resume
- Start the job search
- Prepare for a technical interview
Good news! Career Karma can help you through every stage of your journey to becoming a QA engineer. We’ll provide you with free mentorship, coaching, and access to a community of your peers who can help support you during your breaking into a career in tech.
We’ll also help you prepare for and get accepted to one of the top software engineering coding bootcamps, so you can get the training you need to succeed in your new career.
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