What Does a QA Engineer Do?

October 9, 2020

If you are currently browsing through job adverts and you’re looking for ‘testing jobs’ you will find that there are many different names used in the testing field for ‘testing jobs’. For example, some companies are looking to hire QA testers or Manual QAs, and others are looking for QA analysts or QA Engineers. With so many job titles in the testing field it can be confusing for a new tester. 

Let’s clear up this confusion for you. 

In many cases, companies swap between the different titles but they’re generally talking about one position: Quality Assurance. 

Plus, depending on the size of the team, organizational structure, and the company's specific needs, the QA process can vary, and different roles are included under the one title. 

To simplify things for you, you can break up all testing jobs into three main groups:

  • Quality Assurance Engineer (QA/QAE)- this is the role that includes verifying that a product has met its requirements and is working correctly. Other titles that are used for this role include, QA Engineer, Quality Assurance Test Engineer, Manual QA, Software Test Engineer, and QA analyst. 
  • Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) - is the engineer who creates automated testing scenarios and code for automated tests. Other names for this role include, QA Automation Engineer  
  • QA Lead - is the individual who determines the test strategy and manages the entire QA team. Other titles include, Test Lead or Lead QA Analyst.

In this article, we will be focusing on the first group, Quality Assurance Engineer, and we will answer these questions for you:

  • What is a quality assurance engineer?
  • What do QA engineers do? 
  • What education and skills do you need to become a quality assurance engineer? 
  • Where do QA engineers work, and what salaries do they get?

What is a QA engineer?

To understand the role of a quality assurance engineer, we need to remind ourselves about quality assurance. 

Quality assurance, or QA, in software testing is when a product is thoroughly checked over to ensure that errors don’t occur, and future issues are prevented, before the product gets to the end-user. 

Therefore, QA engineers, who are also part of a team of engineers, participate in and oversee the entire software development process, to ensure that a product meets the end-users’ expectations. This includes running multiple tests to check for errors and to simulate the user experience to see if the product runs as it should. 

Join us as we take a look at what a QA engineer does daily in more depth. 

What does a Quality Assurance Engineer do? 

You now have a better idea about the role of a QA engineer, let’s now take a look at the general tasks and responsibilities that an engineer encounters on a daily basis. 

The main responsibilities of a QAE are:

  • They review the requirements and specification of a product. 
  • They make sure that the requirements are set out clearly and are understood by all the team.
  • They choose the best-suited methodology and testing tools for a project.
  • They create test plans and test cases.
  • They perform various tests at different stages of the testing process.
  • They identify, track, and document bugs and errors.
  • They verify fixes.  
  • They prepare QA status reports.

Now you have a better idea about the role of a QA engineer and what their daily tasks and responsibilities are. It is now important for you to know what type of education and skills you’ll need to acquire to become a successful QA engineer. 

What education and skills do you need to become a Quality Assurance Engineer?

Every job has a specific skill set, and the role of a QA engineer is no different. But there are many paths you could consider when thinking about becoming an engineer, and to master the role. 

First of all, many QA engineers have a bachelor or a masters degree in Computer Science, Engineering, or Math. If you have one of these then it’s important for you to get practical testing experience and to apply for jobs.

However, the second thing to remember is, your knowledge and skills are more valuable for employers than a degree. So, while having a degree can make finding your first job easier, not having a degree is not going to stop you finding a job in QA. You can do a lot of self-learning and practice at home to help you find a job in QA. 

Plus, there are loads of online courses out there just waiting for you to sign up to them! Don’t throw away the idea of becoming a leading QA engineer, just because you didn’t go to university. 

One final thing… in the world of IT, generally speaking, practical experience is a lot more valuable, than just theory alone.

These are the general qualifications that you’ll likely see listed on QA job adverts:

  • Strong understanding of software testing concepts and processes like, common approaches and methodologies, types of tests, and testing tools. 
  • Knowledge of different operating systems: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS. 
  • Ability to write clear and comprehensive test plans and test cases.
  • Familiarity with Selenium, JIRA, or other testing and bug tracking tools.
  • Experience working with databases.

You can learn all these technical skills at home, and by completing short-term courses online. 

Besides the above technical skills, a quality assurance engineer must have strong communication skills. The job of a QA professional is to communicate to other people that there is something wrong with the product, and to tell them that the problem needs to be repaired. First of all, all instructions and notes must be written clearly, so that the problem gets fixed. On the flip side, the second thing to remember is to have empathy when telling someone that a problem(s) needs to be fixed. A QA engineer needs to be able to speak calmly, and tell someone what is wrong with the product without hurting the person's feelings, they need to be tactful and diplomatic.  

Time-management skills are also very important. Quality assurance engineers must estimate, prioritize, plan all testing activities, and complete work within agreed deadlines. 

And it is almost impossible to become successful in this field without the ability to learn quickly. Methodologies change, and new tools appear frequently in the IT field, so as a potential QA engineer you are entering into a fast-changing environment, where you must be flexible and be able to adapt quickly. 

You’ve now got a better understanding of the education and skills you’ll likely need to become a QA engineer. Let’s finish off by looking at the job outlook, working environment, and salary of a QA engineer. 

A QAs job outlook, work environment, and salary

You’ve got a lot of information about the role of a QA engineer, all you need to know now is, what’s the outlook of this job really like, what is the actual working environment like, and what type of salary could you potentially earn as a QA engineer. Check out our answers below.

Job outlook

Technology is becoming more and more present in our lives, and so the demand for QA professionals is very high, not only in the US but worldwide. It is expected that the number of vacancies in testing jobs will increase by about 5% to 10% in the upcoming years. And this makes perfect sense since no company wants to release a poor-quality product that is full of bugs. 

Plus, there are many opportunities for career growth. For example, QA engineers may switch to automated testing, progress to QA managers, or become product managers. All of these roles are desirable and there are plenty of them around to apply for. 

Work environment

Software Quality Assurance Engineers can work in various fields: from banking to healthcare. It doesn’t matter if a company is developing new software for aeroplanes or is creating short video games, these products cannot be successfully released without being checked over by a qualified QA professional. 

A well-established quality assurance process saves time and money by detecting bugs and issues early on in the development phase. It also helps build trust with customers and enables businesses to beat their competition. So, you could be working on any product in varying environments really. 

Quality assurance engineers usually work full-time, at an office or in a lab. They spend most of their time sitting in front of a computer and they’re analyzing information. But as they must work closely with other QA team members and developers, you cannot really say that this job is a ‘lonely job’, there is plenty of contact with people. 

Salary

In general, software testing tends to be a good high-paying field. According to Indeed, the average salary of a QA engineer in the US is about $80,000 per year. But it can vary depending on the level of experience, duties, company, and state. 

Experienced professionals typically get up to $100,000 per year in the USA. 

As you can see the role of a QA engineer is a lucrative and loveable one, but remember there can be differences in the role as you cross countries, so be mindful of this. For example, salaries are likely to change as you move from the USA to Europe. 

Conclusion

The role of a QA engineer is a great one. Why? Qualified QA professionals are always in demand, there are great career opportunities, and the salaries are typically high once you have gained experience. 

What is even more exciting, is that the learning required is not that difficult, and you can get the required qualifications relatively quickly.

If you haven't checked out our courses yet, do so now. Our helpful tutors will guide you every step of the way as you move along the learning process. With their support, you will be able to start your successful career in testing in just a couple of months. See our site for further details. 

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