A quality assurance (QA) engineer is responsible for making sure software products are up to a certain standard. Creating high-quality products is essential to tech companies of all sizes, and as a result, careers in quality assurance are rapidly growing. Because of the high demand for QA engineers, many job seekers are wondering how to become a quality assurance engineer.
This detailed guide covers everything you need to know if you are considering a career in quality assurance. We discuss salaries, QA engineer training options, and job requirements, and we provide a step-by-step guide on how to become a QA engineer regardless of your background.
Quality assurance is important because it is an essential aspect of software development, as its main purpose within the software development life cycle is to identify bugs and potential problems within the software and ensure these issues are addressed adequately.
Having a quality assurance team in charge of crafting policies for software testing, developing acceptable standards, and tracking test results is vital to increasing customer satisfaction, ensuring product safety, and encouraging continuous innovation.
A QA engineer is responsible for performing systematic manual and automated tests on products to identify bugs and errors, reporting results to stakeholders, and creating new testing protocols. Keep in mind that the specific tasks you’ll find in a QA engineer job description will vary depending on the employer and position on the team.
In many cases, a QA engineer’s responsibilities begin before a project starts. QA engineers collect information about the goals of a project and write policies to prepare for testing. They also set up processes to ensure the code has been reviewed and checked. Here are some examples of the duties included in a quality assurance engineer’s job description:
Coding automated tests
Creating software test plans
Discovering bugs or problems within a program
Developing standards and policies to ensure high-quality code
Identifying any problems that users may encounter
Performing automated and manual testing
Tracking test results
Documenting test cases
As you might expect, creating new software products is a complicated process, and quality assurance has a role to play each step of the way. Below, we discuss different forms of testing to give you a better idea of what a QA engineer does.
System testing is a form of quality assurance done on a full project. It’s typically conducted towards the end of the development process. Systems tests ensure all components of the software function properly, both separately and as a whole. It’s essentially the last test done before the product is released into the market.
Integration quality assurance testing explores the various components of an application. First, it evaluates how the individual component works. Then, each component is tested to see how the application works as a whole. Integration testing is often done before system testing.
Feature testing is a form of QA engineering done before an application is updated. This type of QA engineering explores how a new update impacts an application. QA engineers performing this work must find any issues or negative user experiences that come from the updated software.
QA engineers test the usability of a product before its release. Usability tests ensure the product functions in the way a customer expects. These tests allow the team to see how well the product is received and to make whatever final changes are needed before the product is launched.
To become a QA engineer, you will need a working knowledge of software development as well as experience with automated and manual testing methods and technologies. Some QA engineers pursue a degree in computer science or a similar technical field. Others teach themselves cheaply how to code without any formal education, through bootcamps and courses.
If you want to learn how to become a quality assurance engineer, here is a step-by-step guide to get you started.
Getting an education is an important first step to becoming a QA engineer. Gaining a quality engineer degree is still the most common method, and is preferred by some employers, but it is not the only option. QA degree programs are more comprehensive but require more time and financial investment.
If you are looking for a more streamlined means of starting a career as a QA engineer, consider coding bootcamps or online courses. QA bootcamps are short, immersive programs designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in tech. Ultimately, the right educational method for you will depend on your unique situation, career goals, and resources.
QA engineering is a tech job that requires a unique set of technical and soft skills. In addition to traditional development skills, you’ll need experience using automated testing frameworks, test management tools, and more. Quality assurance careers also require strong soft skills, especially communication, analytical thinking, and problem-solving.
Though you will study these topics as part of your degree program or coding bootcamp, it is still essential that you set aside adequate time to practice these skills on your own. During this period, you can start thinking about your short and long-term career goals or start researching QA certifications for beginners.
To become a QA engineer, you need to develop a comprehensive development portfolio. Your QA engineer resume and portfolio should demonstrate your knowledge of popular programming languages, key aspects of the quality assurance process, and how you perform testing. Coding bootcamps help you develop your technical resume through career services and counseling.
A portfolio and technical resume are especially important if you don’t have any professional experience working in a tech field, as QA engineers often spend a year or two working as software developers before moving into a quality assurance role. You’ll want to show employers the projects you have completed on your own to prove you have the skills they are looking for.
To prepare for a QA engineer interview, you’ll need to make sure that you aren’t just able to use QA tools, but that you are able to clearly describe your ideas and processes out loud. QA engineers work with members of every part of a development team, making interpersonal skills and collaboration all the more important.
Practice common QA engineer interview questions in a way that emphasizes your problem-solving skills and attention to detail, review testing terminology, and make sure you are prepared to talk through your answers to technical questions.
By now, you should be ready to start applying for quality assurance positions. If you don’t have relevant work experience, you may want to begin your job search by looking for entry-level development positions or QA internships. It’s a lot easier to find employment as a QA engineer after you’ve gained some experience.
Some people take on tech internships while attending college to ensure they have in-field experience on their resumes. Many coding bootcamps give students hands-on experience in QA engineering before they graduate, and most have extensive networks with hiring partners to help students get hired.
To become a QA engineer, you’ll need to gain experience with a range of technical tools that assist in testing processes. Keep in mind that most QA engineers also find that soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and organization are essential for success. Here are some of the most important QA engineer skills and technologies:
Automated testing frameworks. Frameworks like Selenium and Cypress are used to execute automated test scripts, which allow QA engineers to run efficient and repeatable tests across different platforms and scenarios.
Bug tracking systems. Tracking tools like Jira enable QA Engineers to effectively report, track, and manage software defects, facilitating clear communication between QA, development, and other teams.
Version control systems. Git is an essential skill for QA engineers because they need to be able to keep track of code changes and collaborate with developers.
Continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools. Knowledge of CI/CD tools like Jenkins or CircleCI allows QA engineers to integrate testing seamlessly into the development process, ensuring consistent testing and timely feedback on code changes.
Test management tools. TestRail and Zephyr are a few test management tools that QA engineers frequently come across. They help organize, execute, and track test cases, ensuring comprehensive test coverage and effective test case management.
The average QA engineer salary is $91,068, according to Glassdoor. Most people in this role earn between $72,000 and $116,000. How much you earn as a QA engineer varies based on several factors, such as the company for which you work and where you live. QA engineers at large companies like Google or Oracle, which have large codebases, often have higher salaries than engineers who work at startups.
The amount you earn also largely depends on your work experience, though the average entry-level QA engineer salary is still very generous. Glassdoor reports that most QA engineers with less than one year of experience earn $72,428.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that quality assurance analysts and testers have a job growth rate of 20 percent over the next decade, which is significantly higher than the average across all occupations. As the number of software products on the market continues to increase, the demand for those with QA engineer skills will continue to grow.
The most common QA engineer requirements include a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Engineering, or a related field, and at least one year of experience in software development or testing. However, QA engineer education requirements can be flexible from company to company.
It is becoming increasingly common for companies to drop the degree requirement. For example, a 2021 Burning Glass Institute report found that only 26 percent of QA engineer jobs at Accenture required a degree and only 29 percent at IBM required one. In today’s job market, professional certifications, coding bootcamp certificates, or relevant work experience can be enough to become a QA engineer.
One important aspect of preparing for a career in quality assurance is deciding what role you want to fill on the team. Some QA experts specialize in specific forms of testing while others might specialize in designing protocols at the beginning of a new project. Your quality assurance career path will depend on your interests and aptitudes. Below is a breakdown of the most common QA careers.
Senior QA engineer salary: $124,521
The reason this is one of the highest-paying careers in quality assurance is that people in this position take on a leadership role in designing, implementing, and overseeing testing strategies. They mentor junior QA team members and are experts in advanced testing methodologies and tools. In most cases, you will need several years of experience before becoming a senior QA engineer.
Software QA engineer salary: $106,670
A software QA engineer specifically focuses on testing software applications for functionality and quality. This sets them apart from other kinds of QA engineers, as these professionals are involved with quality assurance practices in various domains and sectors beyond just software.
QA automation engineer salary: $96,963
As their title suggests, a QA automation engineer’s job description includes designing, developing, and maintaining automated testing frameworks and scripts. They have to work closely with other members of the QA team to ensure comprehensive test coverage, as they only focus on automated testing.
QA test engineer salary: $96,501
To become a QA tester, you can attend a coding bootcamp or earn an Associate Degree in Computer Science. QA tester training is less comprehensive because it is often considered an entry-level position. After QA engineers design testing protocols and guidelines, QA testers step in to carry out tests and gather essential data.
QA analyst salary: $86,212
You can study quality assurance, data analytics, or both to become a QA analyst. This is another role that is often considered entry-level. Most quality analyst jobs focus on evaluating test data for key takeaways and conducting market research.
Gaining a quality assurance certification is a great way to validate your skills and improve your resume, especially if you are hoping to enter the QA field without a relevant degree. There are numerous certifications for QA engineers, so you will want to choose one that fits your level of experience and intended specialization.
The CSTE certification from the Global Association for Quality Management is aimed at professionals with several years of experience. It sets you up for career advancement and shows your ability to advise those at the managerial level. Before taking the exam, you must complete the prerequisite course.
This is an advanced certification for QA engineers with at least eight years of on-the-job experience with three years in a decision-making position. The exam is open book, lasts 4.5 hours, and consists of 175 questions. The American Society for Quality provides a range of study materials, including a CSQE Handbook to give test takers an overview of what to study.
A bachelor’s degree is no longer the only pathway you can take to become a QA engineer. A combination of enrolling in the right coding bootcamps or online courses and gaining relevant work experience can set you up for numerous careers in quality assurance. Below, you can read more about the QA bootcamps and online classes offering the best QA engineer training.
Careerist. Careerist offers three immersive QA bootcamp programs, including one in manual QA, one in QA automation, and one for students who want to learn both skills. In addition to the career services found in most bootcamp programs, Careerist students have access to QA internships to practice their new skills in a real-world environment.
NeoTech Academy. NeoTech Academy’s flagship bootcamp program is designed to turn tech newcomers into software test engineers in six months. It is available online and in person and covers subjects including testing life cycles, QA frameworks, Java, and manual and automation testing.
This intermediate-level QA engineer course lasts two months and covers black-box and white-box testing, automated analysis, and web and mobile testing with Selenium. Both free and paid options are available.
This five-week course is for students with some previous experience with Java looking for a deep dive into automated testing. You will learn state-of-the-art techniques and practice developing testing strategies and testable architectures for any context.
This short class is perfect for beginners and covers QA basics before moving on to more advanced topics. Technologies covered include Jira, TestRail, Postman, Miro, and GitHub. At the end of the course, students learn about testing platforms where they can practice their new skills as beta testers.
Yes, you should become a quality assurance engineer if you have a keen eye for detail, enjoy problem-solving, and are passionate about creating high-quality software products. Careers in quality assurance offer stability, an impressive salary, and plenty of opportunities for career advancement.
If you are wondering how to become a QA engineer, remember that the process doesn’t necessarily have to take several years in a university degree program. QA engineer training is more accessible now than ever. With the right amount of drive and hard work, you can thrive in this field after attending a coding bootcamp or enrolling in online courses.