If you live for details, enjoy working methodically to solve problems, and have a knack for understanding software user behaviors, a job as a software quality assurance (QA) engineer may be just the tech career path for you to explore.
What Software QA Engineers Do
Simply put, a software QA engineer makes sure that new software products work before they are released to the public. Now, if you are thinking of a career as a software QA engineer, that simple answer is probably not enough to satisfy your detail-oriented mind. So, here is a more detailed explanation provided by Study.com:
“Software quality assurance engineers, often called QA engineers or specialists, are extremely detail-oriented, methodical workers who consult with managers on product goals, anticipate user behaviors and write software test cases. They also implement automated test scripts, troubleshoot software bugs and document application procedures. Potential employers may include computer systems design companies, computer and electronics manufacturers or software publishers.”
Typical duties of a software QA engineer might include:
- Designing software
- Writing source code
- Reviewing code
- Configuration management
- Change management
- Program testing
- Integration of software
- Release management for product
While some testing is involved in the QA engineer job, the engineer is not a software QA tester. Software QA testers work on bits and pieces of a project at different development stages, whereas QA engineers oversee the entire project. Check out this quick video that explains the difference between QA engineers and QA testers:
Software QA engineers typically work in an office or lab setting. Most work 40 or more hours per week, and their schedule may be larger determined by deadlines for product release. This means that sometimes, work will exceed 40 hours per week and may include nights and weekends as well.
Key Qualifications for Software QA Engineers
While qualifications for software QA engineers differ according to company, job level, and location, there are some commonalities that usually apply to software QA engineer jobs across the board. These common factors can be divided into three categories: educational requirements, technical skill sets, and personality traits.
There are some self-taught software QA engineers employed today, but they are in the minority. Most companies are looking to hire engineers with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems technology, or software engineering.
Professional certification, known as CSQE, is also available through the American Society of Quality (ASQ). This certification will open up opportunities for higher paying jobs and better positions for software QA engineers who take the time to obtain it.
Required Skill Set
Top skills for software QA engineers include:
- Understanding and use of QA methodologies
- Ability to research
- Understanding and use of Agile methodologies
- Test planning, testing, and test automation
- Risk analysis
- Ability to use source code repositories
- Documentation skills
Desired Personality Traits
There are also a number of personality traits and social skills that stand software QA engineers in good stead. One QA engineer offers the following list of needed traits:
- Analytical mindset
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills, both written and oral
- Perseverance and determination
- Willingness to work in a fast-paced environment
Professional Associations and Resources for Software QA Engineers
Here are a few of the professional associations and professional resources available to software QA engineers:
- Software Engineering Institute (SEI)
- American Society for Quality (ASQ)
- QAI Global Institute
- Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN)
Top Tech Companies and Locations for Software QA Engineer Jobs
Top tech companies employing QA engineers include:
- Fidelity Investment
Top Locations for QA engineers include:
- San Francisco, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Boston, MA
- New York, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Seattle, WA
- San Diego, CA
- Austin, TX
- Portland, OR
- Washington, DC
Software QA Engineering Salaries by Job Title
The following jobs represent sample career paths for software QA engineers. Included is information pertaining to salary, educational requirements, and top skill prerequisites for each position mentioned:
QA Engineer Consultant
Salary: Based on 136 profiles, the average base salary for QA Engineer Consultants is $79,230 per year. The average market salary is $98.5K per year, which includes $79.2K base salary, $13.8K annual bonus, $9.05K signing bonus and $26.4K annual equity.
Education: 51 percent of QA engineer consultants need a bachelor’s degree and 17 percent need a master’s degree.
Skills: Skills needed include: Quality Assurance (62 percent), Testing (61 percent), Agile Methodologies (55 percent), Test Planning (44 percent), and SDLC (39 percent).
Salary: Based on 14,730 profiles, the average base salary for QA Engineers is $83,400 per year. The average market salary is $103K per year, which includes $83.4K base salary, $14.6K annual bonus, $10.4K signing bonus and $25.8K annual equity.
Education: 54 percent of QA engineers need a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent need a master’s degree, and 1 percent needs a doctorate.
Skills: Skills needed include: Quality Assurance (55 percent), SQL (42 percent), Agile Methodologies (41 percent), Testing (40 percent), Test Automation (34 percent), and Test Planning (30 percent).
QA Engineer Contractor
Salary: Based on 122 profiles, the average base salary for QA Engineer Contractors is $88,656 per year. The average market salary is $109K per year, which includes $88.7K base salary, $14.3K annual bonus, $8.97K signing bonus and $20.7K annual equity.
Education: 52 percent of QA engineer contractors need a bachelor’s degree and 9 percent need a master’s degree.
Skills: Skills needed include: Quality Assurance (74 percent), Testing (66 percent), Software Quality Assurance (48 percent), Test Planning (45 percent), Test Automation (44 percent), and Agile Methodologies (42 percent).
Senior QA Engineer
Salary: Based on 5,622 profiles, the average base salary for Senior QA Engineers is $97,749 per year. The average market salary is $117K per year, which includes $97.7K base salary, $14.7K annual bonus, $6.83K signing bonus and $25.7K annual equity.
Education: 42 percent of senior QA engineers need a bachelor’s degree, 22 percent need a master’s degree, and 1 percent needs a doctorate.
Skills: Skilled needed include: Testing (64 percent), Agile Methodologies (62 percent), Quality Assurance (47 percent), Test Planning (36 percent), and SQL (36 percent).
Senior QA Engineer Lead
Salary: Based on 291 salaries, the average base salary for Senior QA Engineer Leads is $103,553 per year. The average market salary is $123K per year, which includes $104K base salary, $14.8K annual bonus, $7.41K signing bonus and $34.1K annual equity.
Education: 46 percent of senior QA engineers need a bachelor’s degree, 15 percent need a master’s degree, and 1 percent needs a doctorate.
Skills: Skills needed include: Agile Methodologies (58 percent), Quality Assurance (55 percent), Testing (55 percent), Test Automation (55 percent), Test Planning (55 percent), and SDLC (45 percent).
QA Engineering Manager
Salary: Based on 459 profiles, the average base salary for QA Engineering Managers is $115,358 per year. The average market salary is $151K per year, which includes $115K base salary, $21.8K annual bonus, $10.4K signing bonus and $35.2K annual equity.
Education: 50 percent of QA Engineering Managers need a bachelor’s degree, 21 percent need a master’s degree, and 2 percent need a doctorate.
Skills: Skills needed include: Quality Assurance (57 percent), Testing (52 percent), Agile Methodologies (48 percent), Test Automation (29 percent), Software Development (26 percent), and Scrum (25 percent).
Finding and Getting Your Dream Job as a Software QA Engineer
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will see 17 percent growth between now and 2024, so software QA engineer job prospects are generally good.
An additional benefit of becoming a QA engineer is that it provides you with a number of different career paths to pursue, including computer systems analysis or information systems technology. Seasoned QA engineers also often end up in management positions, as they are tasked, in part, with bridging the gap between developers and the C-suite.
If you are thinking of pursuing a career as a software QA engineer, the Paysa platform is an invaluable resource. Paysa collects data concerning salary, average time to promotion, and skills prerequisites from thousands of job profiles among the top companies hiring tech talent today.
Armed with all the information that Paysa provides, you can quickly see where you stand in the job market. You can assess the education you need to pursue, the technical skills you need to acquire, and the salary for which you can negotiate with confidence.
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