Each career path is unique and for quality assurance engineers, this is no different. QA engineers play a challenging, yet specialized role in the software development cycle. From start to finish, QA engineers provide a distinct purpose in product delivery and product quality.
What exactly is it like to be a QA engineer?
Well, in 2012, CareerBliss compiled a list of 20 of the happiest jobs based on a survey of more than 100,000 employees across the United States. And, guess what? Software quality assurance engineer ranked as the happiest job of all.
With a typical yearly salary between $85,000 and $100,000, QA engineers gave their position an average index score 4.24. Those surveyed even went so far as to say that they are “more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for.” They’re also “fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses.”
What are these daily tasks and what are they about?
When people think of those who work in IT, they probably imagine them sitting in front of their computers all day long doing the same repetitive task over and over. This, however, is simply not the case. Each day in the life of a QA engineer is different and being in QA means you never stop learning. Don’t be surprised when you’re testing your product using different browsers and devices, or acting in different user roles.
Some of the key tasks, however, that are done on day-to-day basis include:
- Gather requirement specifications
- Touch base with developers
- Write test conditions and test cases
- Run test cases (manual, automated or both)
- Discover bugs and report
Why do they matter in the software development cycle?
Quality is achievable, but it is a never-ending process. No matter what point you are in the software development lifecycle or how many tests you’ve run or errors you’ve corrected, there is always room for improvement. Projects are not set in stone and, oftentimes, changes must be made. Moreover, each project is unique in what it may require, so there is no one-way to handle complications.
What makes a good QA engineer?
Surprisingly, communication is a large part of the job. As more organizations have turned to the agile process, this means that departments no longer function as individual silos. QA engineers can expect to not only speak and work with developers, but also the product team, business team, stakeholders and users. Having the ability to communicate with both technical and non-technical people is necessary.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a QA engineer. Knowing how to speak up and be an advocate for your team is not an inherent skill all are equipped with. A solid QA engineer is someone who understands the complete software development process, can juggle and multi-task, is a creative and analytical thinker, and is able to promote teamwork to increase productivity and cooperation between both development and business teams.
While it can’t be denied that a part of a QA engineer’s role requires testing and reporting bugs – and then doing it again and again – it also demands the necessary skill set to take on additional roles and responsibilities within the IT team. A QA engineer’s role doesn’t just make up one part of the software development cycle, but the entire length of the cycle. From beginning to end, expect to play an important role… and don’t be surprised when your role expands beyond and into additional responsibilities. It’s just a part of what it means to be a QA engineer today.
Please check our article about "Selective QA Interview Questions for Managers to Ask" to boost your confidence in QA.