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Businesses of all kinds need skilled QA testers to ensure apps, software programs and products they release live up to the high standards consumers expect. With more software being created than ever before—from video games to social apps to word processors—there’s huge demand for QA Testers to ensure it all works.
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QA (or Quality Assurance) Testers perform a vital function in the software development process. While it’s up to developers themselves to write the code that forms the basis of apps and programs, QA testers are the ones who make sure they are ready for publication. The job can involve manually testing a piece of software, or coding automation test scripts to achieve the same results. Testers then provide detailed reports suggesting refinements and diagnosing problems with the software’s initial build, which developers will take on board when refining it.
While some careers have rigid educational requirements, QA Testing is more about skills than qualifications.
It is possible to learn the requisite technical and interpersonal skills that being a QA Tester requires without taking a formal qualification. Essential hard skills include familiarity with popular coding languages (such as Java, C++, and Python), along with knowledge of product development, and technical terms. If you are looking to develop these skills, you can take a software testing certification course, such as the one offered by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) to get started.
It’s best to focus on one coding language, and to really master what it takes to QA test programs built with it. That way, when you see a job advertised in, say, C++, you’ll know you’re the one to do it.
The ultimate goal of a QA Tester is to make sure an app or program works as its designers intended it. But it’s much more than just playing video games all day. QA Testers will implement a system for each piece of software that they test to make sure it meets certain standards. Increasingly, QA testing is carried out via automation, with testers writing the scripts.
QA Testers look for bugs which could crash a program entirely, or for glitches which could marr the user experience. QA Testers are also the first audience for any piece of software, meaning their feedback on its usability (or playability in the case of a game) is crucial.
There is also an important non-technical side to the role. As well as bugs, glitches and UX issues, QA Testers check for spelling mistakes, mistranslations, copyright issues and even cultural sensitivity. If a program or video game is particularly large, an entire team of QA Testers might be needed, with each analysing their own section.
Once a round of testing is over, QA Testers must communicate their findings to designers and developers in a clear but diplomatic way. Software creators are not obliged to follow QA Testers’ recommendations to a tee, but this feedback is hugely important in bringing about the final build.
|Testing / QA Engineer – Entry level
|£25,000 - £38,000
|Testing / QA Engineer – Mid-Weight
|£38,000 - £55,000
|Testing / QA Engineer – Senior
The development of multiple web and mobile applications has not only provided advantages to consumers (e.g. the usage of applications on the go), but it has also increased the demand for Testing and QA specialists in companies all across the United Kingdom and Europe. Fortunately for employers, there is no skill shortage within this sector and specialists for Testing & QA jobs can be found quickly. On the other hand, this does mean that those looking for these positions do face tough competition.
Career progression for Testing & QA professionals may be to take the step into a SDET role, writing automated tests and creating manual test cases while other opportunities are open to QA testers as well.
Most positions in QA and Testing are offered by technical industries, including engineering, IT, telecommunications, construction and manufacturing. The roles are likely to be full-time and on a contract basis, joining and leaving a company when a project starts and finishes. Those few positions which are on a permanent basis usually offer lower salaries.
One of the biggest changes in QA Testing jobs is the shift from manual to automated testing. Due to this change, professionals in the field are expected to master various automation tools. Since every single tool has a particular purpose, engineers need to acquire a lot of knowledge about them, such as the ability to write scripts.
The career progression for Testing & QA engineers can be very rapid. The best way to get to the top is to gain as much work experience as possible, keep yourself up-to-date about the latest testing methods and systems and try to get some industry specific qualifications. The salaries within this sector can be really high, particularly in the London area. The only disadvantage is that the time before a project deadline can be really stressful and overtime might be required.
Employers want three core skills from professionals in this field: prioritisation, inference and multi-tasking. Inference is the most important Test & QA specialist competency, as testers regularly need to ask themselves: “What can I infer from the project requirements?” Multitasking is another important quality for test engineers as they are usually not only confronted with one issue, but with several from different projects.
A test engineer’s CV should assure hiring managers that the applicant has robust coding skills and is an expert in troubleshooting. The latter is extremely important because test engineers are expected to find the root cause to problems on a daily basis, so that these problems can be solved for all situations which follow a certain pattern. Furthermore, you should make clear on your CV that you have the bigger picture in mind, as developers often focus so much on the development process that they might miss it.
According to the majority of Testing and QA professionals, interviews normally consist of a coding aspect and a couple of theoretical questions. Examples of the theoretical questions are listed below:
1) What is the main difference between validation and verification?
2) What is a frequent issue with software automation?
3) What is the main difference between release and build?
4) Could you please explain data driven testing?
5) Which tests would you conduct for web based applications?
No specific qualifications are required for QA Testing roles, but coding skills and technical skills are essential. And though it isn’t strictly necessary, taking a degree in the subject relevant to the field in which you want to test can be very helpful. If you would like to work, for example, as a mobile testing engineer, you could do a degree in mobile engineering.
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