QA Training: Everything You Need to Know to Start

Although quality assurance (QA) software testing isn’t considered the most cutting-edge job, it’s nonetheless a critical aspect of all organizations’ software development. Without QA professionals, the chances of releasing a substandard product can increase substantially.

If you’re interested in QA as a profession, keep in mind that organizations will expect you to have at least a generalized grasp of the technical skills and principles of software development, such as the Software Test Life Cycle (STLC). Many job postings also ask that QA candidates know at least some of the following tools:

Not every QA candidate will know all of the necessary tools for QA work, and many companies are willing to train new employees on various tools and platforms. Given the pressing needs of QA, however, you’ll be expected to learn quickly and utilize that new knowledge effectively.

If you’re an employee who’s interested in jumping to QA at your current company, the current crunch of QA talent means your boss could prove amenable to providing you with all the training resources and options you’ll need to kick off a QA career.  

Can you do QA training online?

Many organizations offer internal training for their QA workflows. In addition, some turn to massive online learning courses such as Udemy Business, which 12,500 companies have leveraged to support employee upskilling and career advancement opportunities. Through Udemy’s platform, employees can learn in the flow of work, implementing new skills daily and enabling them to gain knowledge on-demand.

Greg Brown, president of Udemy Business, points to several certified QA training programs, including:

There are many benefits to leveraging continuous training opportunities throughout your career. “For QA testers in particular, it enables them to prepare for more advanced roles, demonstrate their leadership capabilities and keep pace with innovation—bridging any knowledge gaps,” Brown explained.

The University of Minnesota offers a software testing and automation specialization course through Coursera, which focuses on helping people develop skills in software testing. Users can practice and master theory, techniques, and tools to effectively test software, as well as learn to write automated functional tests for both front-end and back-end code.

The course is offered via multiple levels, starting with Introduction to Software Testing, which teaches users to develop test plans to guide the testing stage of the software development lifecycle. (This intermediate-level course requires experience with an object-oriented programming language, preferably Java.)

The second course is Black-box and White-box Testing, where users select and apply black-box test input selection methods, including boundary-value analysis, fuzzing, and random selection, followed by Introduction to Automated Analysis, focused on state-of-the-art techniques for automated analysis.

Is QA hard to learn?

Seth Robinson, vice president of industry research at CompTIA, explained that QA requires additional training because it involves more than simply validating code performance: “QA analysts need to understand how to build tests that check for unintended consequences and unlikely scenarios.”

Since software development cycles are always under pressure to speed up, QA analysts need to understand how to automate a test suite so that code can be tested quickly and deployed to production. The first critical step for a QA analyst (or an individual hoping to pursue a QA career) is understanding which skills they need to improve.

“This involves understanding the skill set that is desired from a top candidate, then mapping current skills to that ideal set,” Robinson said.

From there, an individual can target the training courses that focus on the skills they need. “This process of evaluation and mapping can be challenging,” Robinson added. “Many organizations also struggle with this task, so an individual should also work closely with technical management or learning coordinators in their organization to build the best approach.”

What is the best kind of QA training?

Brown believes that, from his perspective, quality QA programs include instruction from real-world experts whose course content can be applied immediately within an employee’s day-to-day work.

“We also believe it’s important to ensure that the content being provided is fresh and relevant, helping organizations stay ahead of technological advancements by learning about the latest software developments in real time,” he added.

How do I start a QA career?

What do employers actually want when it comes to QA professionals Mastery of automated QA tools is a key component, along with knowledge of software development and how businesses actually produce software.

“I like to see cross-platform experience and experience with automation tools.  The specific tools aren’t as important as having a deep hands-on background in working with two or three,” Yang Zhang, CEO and co-founder at Plasmic, recently told Dice.

When designing a QA tester resume, for example, you should emphasize not only your mastery of key tools and platforms, but also your problem-solving abilities. If you make it to the job interview stage, potential employers will question you about your critical thinking, teamwork, and communication skills.

“What really helps a QA tester stand out is their articulation,” Zhang also said. “Being able to succinctly describe a problem and convey what needs to happen next to the product team makes everyone’s lives easier. Testers who have enough technical experience to recommend solutions are particularly sought after.”