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QA Engineering – A Simple Way To Get Into The IT World

June 1, 2021

IT is an ever-developing industry that keeps attracting more and more people to it. But, what makes it so appealing? The answer: the IT world provides individuals with numerous opportunities for self-development, career growth, and most roles offer a decent salary too. 

Besides all of this, people are getting into IT because it literally does change the world. And being part of that change, launching it, steering, and managing it is very enticing for most. Everywhere we go there is some kind of tech, and for a lot of people playing a tiny part in the development of that tech would be out of this world for them.   

Additionally, working in IT can be very fluid in the sense that you get freedom to work from where you want, in some cases, and you often get to work hours that suit you. So, things we often hate like working 9 to 5 is a thing of the past in the IT world. Further to this, a lot of individuals like working in IT because they sense that they’re doing something important, and that they are working closely with the end-user. Thus, they feel that their work is necessary and appreciated by the many end-users. 

So, how do aspiring individuals get into this epic IT world, when they have limited IT experience and knowledge?

They start off in QA Engineering. Once a person gets into the IT world, via a QA testing role, they can move around freely to different roles in a matter of years! However, there are many people who choose the QA Engineering role because it’s an absolutely vital part of the software development cycle, and the responsibilities of this role appeal to them. 

In this article we will focus on QA Engineering and we will cover the following topics:

  • So what does a QA Engineer do? 
  • I want to become a tester – where do I begin?
  • How much can I expect to earn if I become a QA Engineer?
  • What career growth can I expect?

Let’s dive right in… 

So what does a QA Engineer do? 

A QA engineer, or software tester, performs application testing, debugs code, and improves a program’s usability. Their job is to identify errors in the code of a program, application, game, or other product, and to correct these errors before the said product gets to the end-user. 

They create test scripts to test a product, and they simulate user actions to see what issues might come up so that they can be fixed. 

Their main goal is to confirm that a product is doing what it is supposed to do, and that it performs as it should from a technical perspective and the user's point of view. The result of all of their testing work is a detailed report, which includes a list of all the errors that need to be fixed, and they provide reasons why the problems occurred. 

In short, a QA Engineer is responsible for:

  • Writing test cases and checklists;
  • Executing sets of tests;
  • Analyzing defects;
  • Controlling the elimination of errors;
  • Developing automated tests

QA testing can be completed Manually, this is when a human tests the product, or testing can be Automated, this is when a computer does the testing. Both approaches are accepted in the QA world today, but both have their positives and negatives that should be considered. You can read more about Manual and Automated testing here.   

Now you know more about QA Engineering perhaps you’d like to know how to become a tester. Read on to find out how to become a tester.

I want to become a tester – where do I begin?

When thinking about taking up any new career, you’ll often find that you need to learn some extra skills for the job. There are several different ways to learn: go to a college/university, study at home, study online, do short free courses… you get the idea. What’s important to remember when learning something new is to make sure you learn in the way that you like! 

Below is a list of ideas to consider when thinking about becoming a tester. (Not all of the ideas will be applicable to you, but don’t be put off by this factor).

  1. Online courses. Careerist, for example, specializes in online QA courses that are designed to teach you exactly what you need to know to get a mid-level job in QA. Careerist also offers enough practical experience on their course, so you would actually have sufficient practical QA experience too. 
  2. Self-study. You could learn QA from home by reading books, perhaps doing some free courses, and practising your QA skills.
  3. Join a school. There are many courses at schools and colleges that can help you to learn about QA. Obviously, there isn’t as much flexibility with this route as you’d need to attend classes. But sometimes the act of going somewhere to learn something is helpful to some individuals. 
  4. Free online courses. If a lack of money is a concern then there are some free courses online that you could check out. Just be sure to check that the information is correct before you begin. And perhaps you could match up this style of learning with reading books on the subject too. 

Things to consider:

  • Short-term courses are an excellent way for you to see if you actually like the topic that is being taught. If you don’t like the topic in a few weeks you know that you don’t need to invest further in the area.
  • If you choose to learn at home be sure to choose only the best and most up-to-date materials. Also, if possible, try and find a simple guide on what and how to learn QA, otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself getting bogged down with thousands of articles and books on QA, and you won’t know where to start. So, try and build a plan for yourself to keep yourself on track. 
  • Short courses also teach you the basics of what you need to know quickly, so they solve the problem of a lack of experience or knowledge in a particular field. For example, for people with no IT education or experience you could take Careerist's short course and become an expert in QA in just a few weeks.
  • Specialized courses in testing will provide you with a structured learning guide, so you know you’re getting the correct and relevant information, and you’re getting real testing experience. 
  • Going to a university to learn QA can sometimes be quite costly, both in money and time. QA doesn’t need to be a 3 year long, expensive learning process, it can be done in just a few weeks at a reasonable cost.  
  • Courses are very helpful as they give you a chance to discuss issues with a real person. Plus, they can help you to understand issues that you might not have been able to figure out at home. 
  • Before attending any course you need to do your research into the course. Make sure the course is being held by a reputable school or company, and don’t be fooled by outdated websites and articles. The IT world is developing all of the time, if the material on a course is out of date, don’t sign up for the course, the information will be irrelevant.
  • Read a book(s) on testing. Courses help you out a lot, but there is no harm in doing some extra reading at home. Just make sure that what you’re reading is applicable in the world of IT today. Software is a very dynamic industry, so you need to constantly monitor it to see new trends. Some books you may find useful are:
  • ‘Testing Computer Software’ by Cem Kaner, Jack L. Falk, and Hung Quoc Nguyen.
  • ‘Agile Testing: A Practical Guide For Testers and Agile Teams’ by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory.
  • ‘A Practitioner's Guide to Software Test Design’ by Lee Copeland.

You've now got a good idea on what you’d need to do to become a tester, and you’ve got some points to consider before you go on to learn QA. You now need to know what you can expect to earn if you become a QA Engineer.  

How much can I expect to earn if I become a QA Engineer?

Salaries, both for newcomers and experienced professionals, can vary in QA. Experience, location, and the size of the organization you work for are the factors that typically decide a QA Engineer’s salary. 

In addition to a salary, individuals working in QA also get access to plenty of other employee benefits, like access to gyms, pools, free food, game zones, medical insurance, and free tickets to events.

A Junior Manual QA Engineer typically earns about $46,000 a year, whereas a Senior Manual QA Engineer could receive up to $100,000 a year. 

Highly qualified and experienced testers can get up to $75 per hour, which is about $150,000 per year. This is rare but possible.

Now you’ve seen the impressive figures, I’m sure you’d like to know more about what career growth can be expected in the world of QA. Read on to discover more.

What career growth can I expect?

Work takes up a third of our lives, so it’s no wonder that we put so much emphasis on finding the right job! It’s very important to love what we do, and if we don’t we could suffer from professional burnout, or we’d just be jumping from one job to another all of the time. 

As testing is often considered as an entry point into the world of IT, you often see that in a couple of years, and with good QA experience behind them, people choose to progress in the QA field. 

One of the possible career paths for a QA Engineer is: 


Here are some other routes a QA Engineer can take:

Junior QA

Once you get your first job as a tester, you will be known as a Junior QA Engineer/Tester. Often applicants with little or no work experience in QA fall into this category. So, what are the duties of a Junior QA? Junior QAs often perform Manual testing, with the help of ready-made scripts, and they write basic test cases. More experienced colleagues supervise their work.

Mid-Level QA Engineer

After working in the QA industry for about three years, you will probably be promoted to a Mid-Level QA Engineer/Tester role. How does this position differ from that of a Junior QA? As a Mid-Level QA Engineer you are expected to create test scripts on your own. Other duties include, creating technical documentation, and acquiring some knowledge on Automated testing, as well as, Manual testing. Understanding program code and certain technologies is also desirable at this stage.

Senior QA

A Senior QA is someone who has worked for three or four years in QA, and they are in charge of many more things. The duties of Senior QA include, the planning of testing processes and monitoring the work of Junior QAs.

Lead Software Testing Specialist

Five years of professional experience in QA will enable you to become a Lead Software Testing Specialist. Duties include, risk analysis, project timing, budgeting, and project management. Leads typically coordinate all the work being done in a team.

This scenario is linear, but it may not always be like this, and there are alternative paths. Some individuals skip a stage or two, and this usually depends on the circumstances, the work produced by them, as well as their talent. 

Conclusion

We hope that our article has been helpful to you, and that you now have a better understanding of QA and the many possibilities it can offer you. The IT world is full of opportunities, and it will continue to be filled with roles for many, many years to come.

In this article we covered:

  • So what does a QA Engineer do? 
  • I want to become a tester – where do I begin?
  • How much can I expect to earn if I become a QA Engineer?
  • What career growth can I expect?

If you still aren’t sure about QA then check out our other articles for more information, and don’t forget to read some of our success stories, they truly are inspirational.

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