Software Quality Assurance (Testing) Career

Career path, salaries, qualifications, responsibilities

Software quality assurance & testing engineers are key personnel who solve problems in software products before these glitches can hit the customer.

These engineers undertake multiple tests of software products to find and shoot down bugs, and the applications that they work on range from a drug-delivery system to the latest action-oriented stealth computer game.

Listed here in a nutshell are typical tasks, qualifications, employers and salary, career path, and job outlook for software testing and QA engineers.

Responsibilities of a Software Testing Engineer

The software QA professional is in charge of the quality of software right from the day plans are on the drawing board to the day of product release.

During the process of developing software, the test engineer conducts several checks to confirm whether it is working smoothly. He or she anticipates problems and tests the software by creating situations in which it can go wrong.

For example, if a user clicks on the mouse multiple times or enters a wrong character or symbol in a password, will this freeze the software? Hundreds of similar scenarios are imagined and the software tested by the QA engineer.

However, testing is only one of the tasks of a QA manager. As a quality assurance expert says in an engaging post in an online forum, an test engineer’s job extends much beyond testing, and involves the entire process of software development.

Comparing the software QA manager’s tasks to those of a QA manager in a large bakery, she points out that the manager’s job includes ensuring that the baker is qualified, that he follows the recipes (and keeps them secret from competitors), that he uses the correct ingredients, that any problems in the development process are recorded and reported, that the products conform to the specifications of the customer, and that feedback from the customer is handled and documented properly.

To put it all more formally and quite simply, an software tester executes steps that are part of a quality control protocol in order to ensure that the quality specifications of a software product are met.

That this is a key position is evident from the fact that it is the software quality engineer who advises the business managers whether a software application is ready for launch or whether the developers need to take up further improvements.

Skills and Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a closely related field is mandatory even for entry-level positions.

Knowledge of software and software development processes, testing protocols, bug-reporting tools, and manual and automated testing may be required for middle-level and senior positions.

Good communication skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to work independently are excellent assets at any level.

Typical employers & average salary in software testing

Software testing and quality assurance engineers are in demand mainly in software development companies. The annual salary ranges from Rs. 2.25 lakh to Rs. 9 lakh in India ($48,000 to $105,000 in the US).

The work environment is brightly corporate, with work flexibility and opportunities to learn and avenues to assume leadership roles.

But the job itself may become monotonous eventually because of the constant testing activities.

Career path in Software QA jobs

A test engineer can progress on the career path by improving work skills and by gaining experience, to software test lead, test manager, software quality assurance manager, and project manager.

Many companies offer advanced on-the-job training. Industry experts strive to bust the myth that testing or QA jobs are not as gainful as developer jobs, and emphasise the importance of quality in the current industrial scenario.

Job prospects

Companies are keen to put their software applications out into the market as soon as possible, and for this reason, testers and quality professionals with skill and experience are in demand.

Moreover, testers and QA engineers are often found to be more aware of general business principles than developers, and many companies greatly value this knowledge.

At least some of these organisations ensure that talented Quality engineers rise to senior or business leadership positions.

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