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Quality Assurance in software development: A beginner’s guide

Job Market
Aug 31, 2020

Recruiting giants like Glassdoor and Indeed are showing thousands of people around the world that ‘Quality Assurance’ roles (QA) are a promising profession for individuals to enter into. The number of vacancies in this field are growing, the pay rates are high, and testers are needed in loads of different areas each day. So, what is QA, and is it possible for anyone to enter into this type of work?

Software Quality Assurance is the process of ensuring that the quality of a software product meets the required standards expected by its end-users. The better the QA engineer, the less buggy the software they test will be, the more satisfied the end user will be, a better user experience is guaranteed, and overall, the developer will be extremely pleased.

Not sure how this works in the real world, then think about a website that sells plane tickets. A QA engineer would simulate buying their own plane ticket in this example. The engineers would go to a website to order a plane ticket, and he/she would “follow” the same ‘route’ that a real user would take when booking a ticket. The engineer does this so that he/she can find and fix any errors in the algorithm/software along the way. Eliminating these errors ensures that booking a plane ticket, as a real passenger, runs smoothly and there are no issues. 

These types of projects, and other software product tests, require the skills of QA engineers. Without QA it is likely that most apps and websites would be full of errors, and would not be well-liked by users.

Testing methods

There are two QA testing methods: manual and automated. They differ not only in the tools used during testing, but also in their requirements. 

Join us as we discuss both testing styles in more depth.

Manual software testing

Manual software testing is when a human performs a search for defects in a piece of software. Generally, a manual tester manually checks the performance of various components in a program by simulating possible user actions. 

Manual software testing is used mainly for short-term projects that are up to a year long, or for projects where the “initial data” system set can change quickly. Such testing allows specialists to be more flexible in their work, which allows them to work through a particular issue more thoroughly, without reconfiguring the entire software testing system. 

A disadvantage of this testing method is, it isn’t suitable for large scale projects where loads of tests need to be run quickly.

The salary of a quality assurance engineer in the manual software testing field in the United States ranges from $70,000 to $100,000 per year. These figures depend on the level of experience and the qualifications held by the individual.

You can read more about the pros of manual QA testing and the skills you need here.

Automated software testing

In both manual and automated testing, a test plan is drawn up and test cases are written. The only difference is that in manual testing test cases are performed by a person, and in automated software testing the program does the testing instead.

Automated testing has many advantages: it has the ability to process large amounts of information, and results are high in quality because the program doesn’t get tired, so this eliminates human errors. But there are also many disadvantages: this testing comes at a high cost, there’s a degree of inflexibility, and there are long-term adaptability issues, especially when new tasks are added to a project.

The salary of an automated software testing specialist can be anything from $115,000 per year and up.

Learn more about automated testing here.

What do QA engineers check for?

So, what exactly do Quality Assurance engineers test? Let's say you have a website. The job of the QA engineer is to make sure that your website is working correctly, and that it is doing what it needs to be doing without faults.

Software testing is an obligatory step in the software development process; you cannot skip it. Why? Because users get angry if a website they are trying to use is slow, and has lots of issues. These issues typically result in users actually leaving a website, and such mistakes are costly, both in time and money, and no one wants that for their website.

It is the job of a QA engineer to ensure that the scenario above doesn't happen to your website, therefore QA checks must be completed. The engineer is a master of quality control, and you need their expertise in software testing to ensure that you have a product that works exceptionally well for all users. 

So, when checking a website this is what a QA engineer will be paying attention to:

  1. Website adaptation for mobile devices.
  2. Cross-browser compatibility.
  3. Download speed.
  4. Validation.

Identifying and fixing errors will ensure that your website is more user-friendly, and thus competitive. You can find out more about testing a website here.

Who can be a QA tester? 

Anybody can be a QA tester. There is no need to have a background in testing to become a tester, and you do not need a university degree in programming. All you need to do to become a manual QA tester is join our 1 month long Careerist manual testing course today. 

Find out more about our course on our website, and you can also meet our tutors there too.


The ‘Quality Assurance engineering’ profession is growing despite the crisis we are in at present. And you’ll be pleased to know that it is not difficult to become an expert in manual software testing. You can become an expert in manual QA testing by joining Careerist's month long manual testing course now − and you can be earning a high paying salary in just months. 

Apply for the Manual QA

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