An unsung hero in the development process for any software or platform is the QA tester. Generally speaking, QA testing happens later in the development process for an app or service, and is done by humans who are making sure the design and general usability of the software is as good as it can be.
The ultimate aim of QA testing is to catch bugs or issues before customers or clients see the finished product. It may sound like anyone can test software—you just click around and see if anything breaks. The reality, however, is far more complicated. What does training actually involve?
We spoke with several experts about why someone would want QA training, the best ways to train, and if paying for training is really worth your time.
What do QA testers make?
According to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, those working in software quality assurance (QA) can earn a median salary of $94,929 per year. There’s also a high level of demand for the skill, with some 688,373 job postings mentioning it over the past 12 months. Moreover, projected growth over the next two years is estimated at 8.5 percent.
Some 91 percent of jobs involving software QA skills ask for a bachelor’s degree; this isn’t a profession that demands advanced degrees in order to get your foot in the door (and that’s a good thing!). In addition to QA engineer/tester, other jobs that ask for these skills include software developers/engineers, IT project managers, web developers, business and management analysts, systems analysts, and product managers.
Job postings that mention QA also tend to mention skills such as Atlassian JIRA, software development, Java, unit testing, SQL, software engineering, and Scrum. Knowing how the software development process works, in other words, is a key element in effective quality assurance.
Some platforms peg QA salaries even higher. For example, Levels, which gathers data from several major tech companies, has the average QA Tester salary at $151,000 per year. Ultimately, it depends where you work. Many QA testers use the role as a starting point to springboard to a full developer job. Some become QA managers, a role that demands “soft skills” such as empathy and communication in addition to “hard” technical skills.
Is There Training for QA Testing? Is QA Testing Training Free?
Seena Ahuja, Director of QA for mobile app development company Fueled, says: “There is formal QA testing at both service- and product-based companies.” In other words, many companies might be willing to train you; check the job posting and application to see if training is offered.
Jaison Wattula, Director of Reporting and Automation at Valence, oversees the QA team at his company. He tells Dice: “Our firm offers formal QA testing for every project that we develop. We have formal and informal processes for QA testing and customize the testing strategy for each project based on the client and project’s specific needs.” That’s one big thing to keep in mind about company-specific training: While it might involve general QA principles, it might also involve skills or methodologies that don’t necessarily port well to other companies building different kinds of software.
Like Ahuja, Wattula says paying for training is probably not necessary: “There are many entry level QA jobs and internships where on the job training is offered at no cost.”
That being said, paid training for QA testing is available. There’s a $100 course from softwarecertifications.org, titled “Certified Associate in Software Testing” (which requires a four-year degree from an accredited university). Free training also exists for some specialty programs. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has free training for QA testing accessibility apps or features (“Trusted Tester”), which is narrowly focused on ensuring apps adhere to Section 508 of DHS’s Office of Accessibility Systems & Technology program.
Is It Easy to Get a Job as a QA Tester?
“Probably not,” says Nuno Fonseca, CEO at Sound Particles. “Small companies don’t think they need testers because developers already test the software.”
Dmitri Bormotov, QA Lead at Quality Logo LLC, says it’s “not really” easy to get a job in QA testing “because there’s a perception that QA is the easiest way to get into IT when it actually isn’t. People think that testing positions are easy because you don’t need any programming experience.”
But Ahuja thinks it’s actually easier than some might believe. And Andrei Mikhailau, software testing director at ScienceSoft Inc., says: “It’s quite easy to get the job, but it’s not that easy to excel, as testing and QA require a certain mindset. You need to be scrupulous but comply with strict deadlines; closely follow the outlined processes, but remain creative and initiative; be capable of self-management, yet communicative. We pay even more attention to this psychological compliance of our future team members than the official certifications they have.”
Wattula adds: “Finding a job as a QA tester is relatively easy because there are many positions. My advice to anyone interested in QA is to look for a job at an organization that genuinely values QA. The gaming industry can be hard on QA teams, but enterprise software development QA is an amazing platform to grow in the technology industry.”
Sergei Shaikin, software tester at Libertex Group, says getting your foot in the door may be the hardest part. “It is not easy,” he tells Dice. “Finding our first job is always the most challenging part. After all, working online on sites is not the same as working in a team on an actual project. The passive method of looking for a QA testing job is posting our profile on various Internet resources. There are many jobs search sites where we can create our profile, and perhaps the company will pay attention to it.”
The active phase is to apply for vacancies in the same places and send applications directly to employers, Shaikin added: “We can also go to the websites of various companies in the career section and look for vacancies there and maybe make connections in professional communities like LinkedIn and look for opportunities directly through managers.”