QA Engineers: What They Are, and How to Become One ⚙️

  • Engineering, Dev & IT
Contra Tips
· 6 min read

A QA engineer ensures software passes all checks before publicly launching. Learn how to become an outstanding QA engineer.

A quality assurance engineer plays an essential role in safeguarding the quality of digital products. But what does a QA engineer do, exactly?

QA professionals test software applications and promptly report any issues. Companies rely on their meticulous software evaluation, deep scrutiny of each feature, and careful performance examination to deliver flawless product functionality.Companies require qualified engineers and developers for QA engineering to deliver top-notch software solutions. These developers need technical acumen, a keen eye for detail, and a commitment to maintaining the highest product quality standards.

QA engineers’ primary responsibilities 🧪

A QA engineer embodies a critical balance between precision and efficiency. QA engineer job descriptions typically outline the following responsibilities for this role:

  • Testing different products and identifying deficiencies
  • Collaborating with the product development team for consistent project execution
  • Offering solutions to product problems
  • Creating detailed and well-structured test plans and test cases
  • Designing, developing, and executing automation scripts using open-source tools
  • Planning, creating, and managing the overall quality planning strategy
  • Identifying roadblocks in the quality assurance process and suggesting improvements
  • Overseeing continuous improvement projects
  • Investigating product quality to enhance customer satisfaction
  • Preparing and presenting reports and metrics to senior management
  • Collecting data and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Reviewing quality specifications and technical design documents and providing feedback

Skills to become a QA engineer 🧑‍💻

Essential QA engineer skills include proficiency in automated testing tools, attention to detail, and a solid understanding of software development processes. This section will review the multifaceted skill set essential for excelling as a QA engineer.

Experience ⌨️

Typically, experience requirements demand a demonstration of technical expertise, practical skills, and educational background, such as:

  • Proficiency in crafting clear, concise, and comprehensive test plans and test cases
  • Hands-on involvement in both white box and black box testing
  • Participation in an Agile/Scrum development process
  • Profound understanding of software QA methodologies, tools, and processes
  • A bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field

Technical knowledge 💾

A proficient QA engineer possesses a blend of qualifications that ensure the quality and reliability of software products:

  • Proficiency in CP/IP, 3-way handshake, DNS, and other networking principles
  • A solid grasp of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), including its structure, status codes, and authentication
  • Expertise in SSL/TLS protocols
  • Familiarity with programming languages like Java, Python, SQL, C++, XML, and more

Hard skills 💪

Hard skills are vital when ensuring the robustness and reliability of software applications. Data engineering or data science proficiency sets the stage for a tech-savvy QA engineer. Here are more distinct skills that define a skilled QA engineer:

  • Mastery of software and A/B testing tools
  • In-depth understanding of QA testing across various platforms
  • Testing API endpoints
  • Proficiency in coding automated tests, harnessing a spectrum of automation tools
  • Working knowledge of web-based testing applications

Soft skills 🧸

A QA engineer's prowess extends beyond technical proficiency. QA engineer interview questions may be targeted at identifying whether you have the following soft skills:

  • Critical thinking abilities
  • Exceptional collaboration with product and development teams
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Effective problem-solving skills
  • Expertise in analysis

Proficiency with digital tools 🛠️

QA engineers have various tools and programs in their arsenal, empowering them to meticulously test and analyze the quality of software applications. Here are some examples:

  • Selenium
  • JIRA
  • HP ALM (Application Lifecycle Management)
  • SoapUI
  • TestRail
  • Postman
  • Appium
  • Jenkins

How to become a QA engineer 🪜

These fundamental steps and strategies will shape your career in quality assurance:

Education and experience 🎓

Becoming a QA engineer involves a combination of education and practical experience, both of which lay the foundation for a rewarding career. QA engineers typically possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field, solidifying their knowledge base.

Aspiring QA engineer candidates are encouraged to accumulate two or more years of experience in software development, software testing, or similar roles. This hands-on exposure refines their skills in manual and automated software testing, testing analysis tools, and other aspects of software development.

A well-crafted QA engineer resume should showcase a candidate's experience in testing software, knowledge of testing frameworks, and any relevant certifications in the field.

Courses and certifications 📜

QA engineer courses and certifications allow you to elevate your skills and propel your career forward to discover a world of growth and expertise. Aspiring individuals can enhance their career prospects by enrolling in courses that cover topics like test automation, quality assurance methodologies, and software testing best practices.

Professional path 💼

Aspiring QA engineers often move forward after accumulating experience as software developers, software testers, and other related positions. During this journey, it’s important to distinguish between a QA engineer and a QA analyst.

QA engineers take on a multifaceted role that involves comprehensive testing, ensuring software integrity across systems. Meanwhile, QA analysts focus on meticulous testing processes and data analysis, contributing to enhanced software quality.

Although both roles involve ensuring software quality, comparing QA engineer versus QA analyst reveals that QA engineers often focus on technical testing aspects and automation. In contrast, QA analysts concentrate more on test planning and documentation.

Contrast these paths to front-end and back-end developers. QA engineers and QA analysts play vital roles in assuring software excellence, whereas developers primarily craft and shape the software itself.

Rising in the ranks as a QA engineer opens doors to leadership roles such as QA lead or QA manager, often culminating in the esteemed position of Director of Quality Assurance. This trajectory requires expertise, leadership, and an unwavering commitment to software quality.

Quality is always assured on Contra 🥇

By mastering essential skills, staying attuned to industry trends, and nurturing a passion for excellence, you’ll make a meaningful impact in QA engineering, where precision and innovation go together.

Join Contra for Independents to showcase your freelance QA engineering services and get paid commission-free. Explore the array of tools and software that QA engineers wield by reading more on our blog, The Contrarian

For clients seeking flawless software, Contra facilitates seamless connections with adept independent QA engineers who can identify and address your product’s issues.

How to Create an Outstanding Software Developer Portfolio 💽

An outstanding software developer portfolio is crucial to landing your dream project. Learn how to craft a stellar portfolio that showcases your skills.
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