Quality Assurance (QA) is one of the most growing IT branches, mainly because of the high level of wages and comparatively low entry threshold. If you haven’t yet decided on the future direction of activity or want to join the friendly QA legion, the paper is for you.
Why is QA Becoming Increasingly Popular?
Experts argue that QA is one of the youngest professions. However, many QAs, especially from third world countries, made a choice in favor of QA either because they are interested in IT, but can’t cope with programming, or just because of the higher salary. Less commonly, you can meet very meticulous and detail-oriented to-the-core QAs.
Such a situation is caused not only by attractive wage levels but also by low requirements for applicants, which, of course, is reflected in the state of the industry. At present, almost 90% of QAs are the so-called switchers, that is, people who are looking for earnings. This caused a large loyalty to the applicants, which are increasing with time.
Today, the sphere is overloaded with many incompetent switchers who are interested in money rather than the original idea of QA. People from undeveloped countries can receive a two/three times larger salary, which puts them in a comfort zone where they do not seek to improve their competence or keep pace with the newest technologies and the market in general.
That being said, there are always people who can apply their talents and ambitions within the scope of QA. These people are now moving the sphere and setting the bar for which to strive.
However, despite the visual plainness of QA, it requires a range of specific qualities:
- Firstly, it is an understanding of IT in a broad sense. The candidate must track the direction of IT and follow the news and trends.
- Secondly, he/she should have technological skills with different operating systems and common tools that are used in the project cycle. Of course, knowledge of English is a must.
- A QA engineer should be a good team player and understand what the client needs. He/she should have some theoretical background in testing.
QA is very popular among applicants, but unfortunately, not all achieve success in it. A QA engineer performs the entire volume of work associated with software testing on a project. The responsibilities are very broad, ranging from the analysis of the technical documentation to the writing of test documentation, testing itself, and writing automated tests.
However, not all QAs are engaged in these types of work, as it all depends on the company in which they work and the level of qualification they have.
Testers are usually divided into four main categories:
• Trainee QA Engineer – a person who has no experience and is just starting out in software testing.
• Junior QA Engineer – a person who already has some skills and experience in testing (possibly commercial or freelance). As a rule, you become a Junior QA Engineer after passing a probationary period that lasts from 1 to 6 months, depending on the company.
• Middle QA Engineer – a person with an average level of knowledge, skills, and responsibilities of the project who can perform tasks on his own and prompt Trainee and Junior testers. As a rule, a Middle QA Engineer has from 1 to 3 years’ experience.
• Senior QA Engineer – an experienced professional who is able to train other employees, test difficult technical problems and perform a wide range of tasks using a variety of tests, including automated.
A QA engineer focuses on software development processes, improves them, and prevents possible defects and problems. And it’s not easy! Many beginners quit after some time because of an inability to withstand heavy workloads.
Well, if you have decided to become a QA, you have a wide range of opportunities. A tester can perform the following functions:
• Test Analyst – deals with static test requirements and checks whether they are complete, unambiguous, and consistent.
• Test Designer – creates a set of tests on the basis of requirements and sets up the configuration needed for testing.
• Test Executor – performs pre-defined tests, documenting bugs and the steps to reproduce them.
• Test Manager – plans and supervises the work related to testing (evaluates deadlines, controls the compliance of tests with the requirements, sets tasks to team members, communicates with stakeholders).
A good QA engineer thoroughly understands the logic of the product and the project, including the current requirements and state of affairs. That’s particularly because he may have to answer clarifying questions for developers who know only their piece of work and, in the best-case scenario, a few related areas.
Advantages of the Profession
- The opportunity to improve product quality and, at the same time, develop different technologies and delve into the details of the product.
- Realize perfectionism without prejudice to social life.
- Some note that interest in the work intensifies with time: first, it is not clear what is being done and why, and then the understanding comes along with the desire to take on challenges.
- The profession requires a continuous application of analytical skills. It keeps mental abilities fresh and makes QA professionals constantly learn new technologies and areas of expertise.
- The opportunity to join the world of high technologies and big salaries.
- Lower entry threshold compared with classic programming.
- The opportunity to understand all the technical aspects and goals of the business, as well as properly communicate with customers, managers, and developers.
The way of thinking for QA engineers and programmers is quite different. If the first is looking for a shortcut solution, reaches the goal, and then seeks new challenges, the latter verifies unrecorded moments and checks different combinations.
As for the disadvantages, the main one is a possible monotony, especially early in the career. It includes performing test cases in manual testing and working with documents.
Having good skills in any of IT niches will give you a great chance to become a proficient QA with time. For sure, you will have to pass an interview with a potential employer. The test task may be different and vary depending on the position and the level of competence.
If we speak about a trainee or a junior who can’t boast a large amount of knowledge in IT, then the interview, as a rule, takes place in three stages: tests (both theoretical and practical parts), talking to technical experts, and a conversation with the head of the Quality Assurance Office.
Having received the post of QA-engineer, do not assume that you’ve already conquered the world. On the contrary, QA reveals good career prospects, including the next three directions:
- Explore new areas and grow as a QA: junior QA -> middle QA -> senior QA -> team lead -> QA-manager -> Head of QA department.
- Master the automated testing and move on this thread.
- Retrain as a business analyst or programmer.
Having enough experience, you can grow to become the project manager and then develop in this direction.
QA opens a lot of opportunities to both novices and switchers. The main thing is not to be afraid of failure. Every experience is the awareness of the correctness of certain actions, which makes it possible to improve the current state of affairs.
The whole world is a test, so when you can’t cope with something, be sure to find the reason and fix it!