How to Become a
Quality Assurance Engineer
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Quality assurance (QA) is an increasingly attractive career. The tech industry is rapidly expanding, so there is an increasing demand for QA engineers. They play a crucial role in overseeing the launch of tech products, scripts, and new software.
This guide will cover possible education pathways to becoming a quality assurance engineer. It will also cover quality assurance salaries, skills, and possible certifications. If you would like to make a career switch and learn how to become a quality assurance engineer, read on.
What Is a Quality Assurance Engineer?
In simple terms, a quality assurance engineer tests tech products and looks out for any malfunctions or deficiencies. For example, when a tech firm launches a new product or software along with an advertisement campaign, QA engineers oversee all of the logistics.
A quality assurance engineer is present from the brainstorming stage of any project through to its launch. QA engineers monitor everything from software design, source code creation, code reviews, configuration management, change management, and the integration of software.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Quality Assurance Engineer?
To become a quality assurance engineer, you need a high school diploma. High school typically covers basic computer science topics. A high school diploma is required to get into degree courses, vocational schools, or bootcamps.
It is not necessary to complete a four-year university course to become a QA engineer. There are plenty of quicker options, listed below.
Best Quality Assurance Engineer Education Tracks
If you want to become a quality assurance engineer, there are many educational pathways available. These include community colleges, university programs, coding bootcamps, and more.
Community colleges in the US are considered a stepping stone for landing a course at a prestigious university. Community college programs provide focused, academic, and technical courses that last for two years.
A community college offers a shorter and cheaper alternative to a university degree. For QA engineer enthusiasts, community colleges offer adequate curricula to land a quality assurance job.
Quality Assurance Engineer Degrees
While it is not necessary to have a degree to become a quality assurance engineer, getting one is a smart move. University degrees offer full-rounded curricula during three to four-year courses. An applicant with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science will gain the upper hand throughout the selection process.
There are no specific quality assurance engineer degree programs. QA engineers with degrees usually have backgrounds in programming or general computer science.
Quality Assurance Engineer Bootcamps
Bootcamps are a sure-fire way to land a job in the tech world, and quickly. Bootcamps were created in the US to cater to a growing demography of tech enthusiasts. The great thing about bootcamps is that courses are usually short and concise. Plus, bootcamp programs are much cheaper than university degrees.
Many bootcamps across the US offer valuable training for QA engineers. These include DevMountain, Fullstack Academy, and TrueCoders. There are many more. You can also take the courses online for a more flexible learning experience.
Quality Assurance Engineer Courses
There is a huge array of online courses available for QA engineers across the Internet. MOOCs are fantastic courses that can be completed entirely online and at a flexible pace. There are many online MOOCs such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity that provide specializations in QA engineering.
How to Become a Quality Assurance Engineer: A Step-by-Step Guide
Awareness around the quality assurance field is still lower than that of other tech avenues. It might be difficult to fully understand the required steps to becoming a QA engineer. We’ve compiled a brief step-by-step guide to map out the best way to become a QA engineer.
Complete high school
At high school, students cover the foundations of computer science. The actual diploma is very useful when applying for courses down the line.
Get your head around the tech fundamentals
The sooner you start exploring the world of IT and programming, the better. QA engineers don’t perform very technical tasks. However, basic knowledge of programming can drastically improve your efficiency as an engineer.
Attend a course or a bootcamp
Most QA engineers today have enrolled in a bootcamp. The most popular bootcamp for QA engineers is DevMountain, but there are many to choose from . Bootcamps offer fast-paced learning and will launch your career in no time. Alternatively, enroll in university for a richer learning experience.
Build a professional network
While bootcamps and university courses provide invaluable education and training, they also offer opportunities to meet others. It is important to build a network of like-minded peers. Make the most of your education by starting to build your professional circle.
Apply for jobs
After completing a bootcamp or a university course, go ahead and apply for work. Getting a job as a QA engineer is relatively easy as higher education certifications are not required.
Key Quality Assurance Engineer Skills
Now that we’ve covered the educational pathways to becoming a QA engineer, you might still be wondering about skills. We’ve compiled the must-have skill-set for all aspiring QA engineers.
A quality assurance engineer works as part of a team, so communication is an invaluable soft skill for this profession. QA engineers act as a bridge between various employees in a singular firm or organization. They are also expected to offer solutions when a problem arises. This requires clear communication as well as strong leadership skills.
In some cases, QA engineers will have to detect faults and problems within the source code of a product. QA engineers must have acute problem-solving abilities to detect and troubleshoot problems or malfunctions.
Quality Assurance Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
QA engineers are very well paid and are increasingly in-demand across the US. According to PayScale, an entry-level quality assurance engineer salary starts at $53,000. An average QA salary is set at $71,000. QA engineers are very well paid in comparison to other tech professions.
QA engineer careers offer many opportunities for advancement and promotion. According to PayScale, a QA engineer salary can reach up to $98,000 for senior roles.
Entry-Level Quality Assurance Engineer Job Requirements
There are no formal requirements for an entry-level job as a QA engineer. Bootcamps and university degrees offer huge advantages when it comes to the job application process. However, a simple short course and demonstrable knowledge in IT are enough to land a job as a QA engineer.
What Does a Quality Assurance Engineer Do?
It may be difficult to picture what QA engineers do. We’ve identified three core tasks to give you an overview.
Assess Technical Design Documents
The core responsibility of a QA engineer is maintenance. Every technical or design element needs to run through the QA engineer for assessment, testing, and problem-solving, if needed.
Plan Ideas to Improve Quality
QA engineers use their problem-solving skills and abilities to improve a product’s performance and potential. QA engineers have the overarching objective of preventing any defect. QA engineers work with front end and backend teams to devise strategies for quality improvement.
QA engineers are often called upon to check coding and programming scripts. When software is being launched, it is the QA engineer’s responsibility to make sure the script is fully functional.
Quality Assurance Engineer Certifications
If you would simply like to switch careers into quality assurance or ensure you remain relevant and at the top of your game, certifications can be useful. Below are some of the best certifications in quality assurance.
Certified Test Engineer (CSTE)
A CSTE is a very useful certification for engineers who are starting out in the quality assurance field. To apply for the certification, you must have up to six years of experience. A CSTE demonstrates competence in quality control over the IT profession.
Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA)
This certification is only available for experienced quality assurance engineers. It is advised that you have completed your CSTE to obtain this certification. Up to six years of experience are needed to apply. The CSQA covers software quality assurance and quality control.
Certified Manager of Software Quality (CMSQ)
This is a useful certification if you would like to move on to a management position. The CMSQ guarantees competencies in software quality assurance. Furthermore, this certification shows that the beholder is capable of leading and managing a team.
How to Prepare for Your Quality Assurance Engineer Job Interview
The key to passing your first job interview is confidence. There are a few key questions used in QA job interviews. It is important to use all online resources possible to prepare. We’re sharing a shortlist of questions so you know what to expect.
Quality Assurance Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions
- In your opinion, what is the main difference between quality assurance and software testing?
- What is a Testware?
- What is the difference between bug leakage and bug release?
- In your own words, how would you define a test strategy?
How Long Does it Take to Become a Quality Assurance Engineer?
It can take as little as six weeks to become a QA engineer. Many bootcamps offer concise quality assurance programs which lead directly to jobs. If you have no tech or programming experience, you might want to expect a year or two of learning. You must start with a strong foundation in programming.
Should you Become a Quality Assurance Engineer in 2021?
In comparison to most tech jobs, becoming a QA engineer is easy. You do not need a higher education diploma to land a QA job. It is a career path that can help you evolve and lead to exciting new opportunities. QA engineers are very much in demand in 2021, as the tech market keeps growing.
Quality Assurance Engineer FAQ
Is a QA engineer the same as a software tester?
No. A software tester only focuses on software and its code script. A QA engineer has to oversee the entire cycle of a product’s creation.
Do I need a background in programming to be a QA engineer?
A QA engineer doesn’t need any formal technical capabilities. However, a QA engineer must have a grasp of basic coding fundamentals.
Is it financially safe to pursue a career as a QA engineer?
Yes. QA engineers are in demand across almost all tech industry sectors. If the tech industry is growing, the demand for QA engineers will rise too. Tech firms abide by the following mantra: never have the people who wrote the code, test it.
Do QA engineers work alone or in teams?
It is increasingly common for bigger firms to hire a team of up to five QA engineers. But usually, individual QA engineers are called for.