Not every software development company hires QA engineers. “Really” I hear you say. But without QA engineers, who monitors the quality of the product? Well, typically, this is done by the developers, and sometimes, the software is tested by other employees, and occasionally the director gets involved too. Basically, if there is no QA engineer, everybody “clicks buttons and looks for errors”. We find this approach wrong and potentially harmful. In this article, we will explain why QA software testers are so important.
Testers – who are they, and what are their responsibilities?
To begin with, a QA engineer is a qualified professional with specialised knowledge and skills in the field of testing. In their role, it is necessary for them to find problems with a finished product, and they go about their work in a SYSTEMATIC and DETAILED manner.
General duties of a QA engineer include, finding errors, analyzing the conditions of their occurrence, arranging and sending an understandable test report back to the development team, and ensuring the developers know what changes need to be made in the code to rectify the errors that have been found.
QA engineers understand the inner workings and most intricate details of all the components in a program, and they use specialized tools to effectively test software.
In addition, they are able to create and simulate potential situations that could arise during a test that programmers might have failed to see.
Engineers must have a good understanding of the present testing technologies, the ability to write scripts, and to be able to anticipate potential problems before they occur.
One of the main, and most important, features of a QA engineer is, they are there to test the functionality of a software program and to ensure that it is convenient for the end users. Additionally, QA engineers must ensure the software complies with IT standards and guidelines.
As you can see, a QA tester does not simply “click buttons and wait for an error to come up.” QA engineers intentionally search for errors. The work of a QA tester cannot be performed by any Tom, Dick, or Harry.
Manual and automated testing
There are two fundamental approaches to testing – they complement each other and, when used together, they yield the best results. The two approaches are manual and automated testing.
- Manual testing. This is when a human tester interacts with a software product with the aim of finding bugs. A tester interacts with the software directly, and compares the expected result with the real results, and they make recommendations on how to improve the product. The main advantages of this approach include; the ability to get real UX and UI feedback, and generally the price is low when it is used on small projects. But it also has significant drawbacks. A human can sometimes miss bugs, there can sometimes be low performance, and the price for the work can go up drastically if the project gets bigger.
- Automated testing. This is when a special testing code is written that repeatedly simulates actions within the software to check for errors. Automated testing is much quicker and is great for saving money. For example, an automated test can perform 1000 actions repeatedly and it usually doesn’t miss errors. Although this approach is not perfect, an automatic test will not find an error if this error is beyond the scope of the script, and it does not take into account the real user experience.
The perfect solution is to combine manual and automated testing. This way you can have the advantages of both, and you can eliminate a lot of the disadvantages too.
Where do testers work?
QA engineers generally work in companies that develop some kind of software. This typically applies to medium-sized and large companies. On the other hand, in a small company these functions could be performed by the developer, although this is not always an acceptable option and can impact the quality of the finished product.
QA engineers can also be outsourced for a specific project.
Soft Skills of a QA Engineer
Like any professional, a QA engineer requires a broad set of soft skills.
- Analytical thinking. This is one of the most important skills for a tester, since the foundation of software product testing is based on this skill.
- Communication. Testers are team players, so they have to be able to interact with different people. Some of the people QA engineers interact with are; developers, project managers, and UX/UI designers.
- Thoroughness. Attention to detail and precision helps QA engineers to find critical errors, so this is a “must-have” feature.
- Presenting information clearly. Testers must be able to outline problems clearly, and they must be able to present this to a team of people who will correct the errors. Failing to do this correctly will result in errors going untreated, and perhaps the software could fail.
- Planning. Testers must be able to draw up a plan of what needs to be done, and more so, they must actually be able to follow it. Having a clear system will allow the entire team to meet the deadline, and deliver the product of the desired quality on time.
- A desire to learn. Things are always changing in the IT field, so a QA engineer should never stop learning about their craft. Their desire, and their ability, to make learning their life-long ambition allows them to keep up with the ever changing trends in the field.
The salary of a QA engineer
The earnings obtained by a QA engineer depends on the qualifications, work experience, and type of testing (manual and automated) the individual has.
Salaries of QA engineers in the US look something like this: A QA automation engineer earns more than $115 thousand per year, while a QA manual engineer earns about $70-100 thousand per year.
If you are interested in becoming a QA engineer, but you don’t have experience in the field, or any knowledge about testing, don’t worry – it’s no big deal. Join a course with Careerist today– there are lots of options to choose from, and all our courses are designed to provide you with the basic knowledge, so that you can start your testing career from scratch. Good luck!