Quality assurance (QA) is any systematic process of determining whether a product or service meets specified requirements.
QA establishes and maintains set requirements for developing or manufacturing reliable products.
A quality assurance system is meant to increase customer confidence and a company's credibility, while also improving work processes and efficiency, and it enables a company to better compete with others.
For example when you buy any fruit or vegetable, you can instantly evaluate its quality: the size and shape, ripeness, and the absence of visible bruising. But only as you take the first bite, will you be able to see if it's really that good. Even an extremely good-looking fruit or vegetable might taste sour or have a worm in it!
The same applies to almost any product, be it a physical object or a piece of software. A website you find on the Internet might seem fine at first, but as you scroll down, go to another page, or try to send a contact request, it can start showing some design flaws and errors or plain bugs.
This makes quality control so important in every field, where an end-user product is created and especially important in software development.
Even more critically, a sour fruit won’t cause as much damage as a self-driving car with poor quality autopilot software. A single error in an EHR system might put a patient’s life at risk, while an eCommerce website that has performance issues might cost the owner millions of dollars in revenue!
What is a QA engineer?
A Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer is responsible for ensuring that software meets quality standards and is free of bugs before its release to the public.
They work closely with the development team to ensure that the software is functional, reliable and meets the requirements set by the stakeholders.
To become a QA Engineer, typically you need a degree in computer science or a related field. Experience with software development and testing, as well as knowledge of programming languages and test automation tools, are also important. Some companies also require certifications in software testing or quality management.
What does a QA engineer do?
QA Engineers are responsible for ensuring that software meets quality standards and is free of bugs by creating test cases, executing manual and automated tests, and analyzing test results. They also communicate with stakeholders to understand requirements and work closely with development and testing teams to ensure timely delivery of projects. Additionally, they may suggest changes to enhance product features and stay up-to-date with industry developments and regulations.
Below are some duties that a QA engineer is likely to perform on a weekly or even daily basis:
- Create standards and procedures for developers to follow
- Execute both manual and automated test scripts
- Code and implement automated tests
- Communicate with stakeholders to understand and clarify software requirements
- Analyze test results to predict user behavior, identify bugs and suggest solutions to minimize problems
- Work closely with product development and testing teams to ensure timely delivery of the project
- Keep track of quality metrics
- Verify that the final product meets the requirement
- Analyze product features and suggest changes to enhance them to make them more efficient and user friendly
- Stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments, standards and regulations
Why are QA Engineers important? What are the emerging challenges?
As a part of technological progress, testing is continually evolving to meet ever-changing business needs as it adopts new tools that allow the tester to push the boundaries of quality assurance. New subjects expected to affect software testing in the near future are security, artificial intelligence, and big data.
The World Quality Report survey shows that security is one of the most important elements of an IT strategy. Input from security is vital to protecting the business. Security vulnerabilities can seriously tarnish brand reputation. For those reasons, test environments and test data are considered the main challenges in QA testing today. The four main focus areas in security testing include:
- Network security
- System software security
- Client-side application security
- Server-side application security
It is highly recommended that security testing is included as part of the standard software development process.
The challenges of testing are increasing and their solutions have an unlimited number of situations requiring artificial intelligence to test them thoroughly. Different implementations of AI using machine learning-based algorithms will soon become embedded in applications to perform tasks once reserved for humans. Although test automation solutions in the intelligence area are not well-established yet, the shift towards more intelligence in testing is inevitable.
Currently, the two major concerns regarding test data management are data compliance and big data.
First, with many onerous protection laws arriving on the scene, simply copying real-world data presents a risk of violating them. For example, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became law in May 2018 for all companies operating in the EU. Given the threat of significant fines, data compliance concerns are on the front burner of most IT departments today. Second, managing huge volumes of data that are constantly uploaded on various platforms demands a unique approach for testing as traditional techniques can no longer cope.
Big data testing is aimed at checking the quality of data and verifying data processing. Data quality check involves various characteristics like conformity, accuracy, duplication, consistency, validity, data completeness, etc. Data processing verification comprises performance and functional testing. Big data testing demands a high level of testing skills as the processing is very fast.
In conclusion, despite a widespread misbelief that a tester’s only task is to find bugs, testing and QA have a greater impact on the final product success.
Having a deep understanding of the client’s business and the product itself, QA engineers add value to the software and ensure its excellent quality. Moreover, applying their extensive knowledge of the product, testers can bring value to the customer through additional services, like tips, guidelines, and product use manuals. This results in reduced cost of ownership and improved business efficiency.
How is automated QA different from manual QA?
Automated and manual quality assurance are both methods used to ensure the quality of a product or service.
Automated quality assurance uses software tools and scripts to test and verify that the product or service meets the specified requirements and works as intended. This method is efficient and can be run frequently and quickly, but it may not be able to detect all bugs or issues.
Manual quality assurance, on the other hand, involves manual testing by a human tester to verify that the product or service meets the specified requirements and works as intended. This method allows for more thorough testing and can detect issues that automated testing may miss, but it can be time-consuming and expensive.
Some more elements to consider:
- Human errors can reduce the accuracy, making this method less reliable
- Manual testing requires a dedicated team of individuals, this makes the process time consuming
- Need to invest in finding the right team
- Better suited for a project where test cases are run once or twice and there is no need for repetition frequently
- Human observation can help evaluate the user-friendliness quotient and help in achieving a better experience for the end user
- Testing performed using tools and scripts makes this method more reliable
- It is relatively faster as the testing is done using software tools, making it better than a manual process
- You need to invest in acquiring testing tools
- It is a practical choice when the test cases need to run regularly over a significant amount of time
- User-friendliness and end-user experience cannot be defined due to the lack of human observation
As we can see both manual and automated QA methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, and organizations often use a combination of both automated and manual testing to ensure the highest level of quality assurance.
What technologies does a QA engineer use?
QA (Quality Assurance) engineers use a variety of technologies to ensure the quality of a product or service. Some of the common technologies used by QA engineers include:
- Test management tools: These tools help to plan, organize, and execute test cases. Examples include Jira, TestRail, and HP Quality Center.
- Automation testing frameworks: These tools allow QA engineers to automate repetitive testing tasks and increase test coverage. Examples include Selenium, Appium, and TestComplete.
- Performance testing tools: These tools are used to test the performance and scalability of a product or service. Examples include Apache JMeter, LoadRunner, and Gatling.
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools: These tools help to automate the build, testing, and deployment of software. Examples include Jenkins, Bamboo, and Travis CI.
- Test case management tools: These tools help to manage the test cases and track their execution. Examples include TestLink and TestRail.
- Bug tracking tools: These tools help to track and manage bugs and defects in the product or service. Examples include Bugzilla, JIRA and Mantis.
- Virtualization and cloud platforms: These tools help to test the application on different environments and platforms. Examples include Docker, VirtualBox and AWS, Azure.
- Code review tools: These tools help to review the code and improve the quality of the code. Examples include SonarQube, GitLab, and Crucible.
It's worth mentioning that QA engineers may also use specific tools or technologies depending on the industry they are working in such as mobile app testing tools, banking testing tools, gaming testing tools etc.
What are typical titles for QA?
1. Quality technician
National average salary: $39,138 per year
Primary duties: A quality technician performs quality testing and basic duties such as gathering data, reporting on inspection results and writing procedures. Quality technicians also perform product qualifications and calibration.
2. Quality auditor
National average salary: $39,477 per year
Primary duties: A quality auditor is responsible for performing audits on products, suppliers, systems or processes. They create reports and follow up on audits with corrective actions.
3. Quality coordinator
National average salary: $46,261 per year
Primary duties: Quality coordinators track and provide information related to quality assurance. They make sure companies follow compliance requirements such as ISO 9001. They improve processes, generate reports and document QA systems. They might also train other team members in quality assurance.
4. Quality assurance tester
National average salary: $53,679 per year
Primary duties: A quality assurance tester works with the development team and designs test plans, procedures and scenarios. Quality assurance testers' responsibilities include performing tests, analyzing test results and creating reports.
5. Quality control supervisor
National average salary: $54,258 per year
Primary duties: Quality control supervisors oversee product testing to make sure procedures are done correctly. They recommend technology or manufacturing improvements to increase efficiency and speed. Quality control supervisors' duties include assessing production process issues and recommending improvements. They also supervise employee hiring, training, workflow and development.
6. Quality analyst
National average salary: $60,041 per year
Primary duties: A quality analyst initiates and coordinates data collection. They report to the quality manager. Quality analysts create reports and use statistical methods.
7. Quality engineer
National average salary: $74,167 per year
Primary duties: A quality engineer inspects and improves products and monitors and develops inspection processes. They decide what inspection and testing equipment to use. They contribute to quality assurance policies and write procedures. Quality engineers usually report to quality managers.
8. Quality assurance manager
National average salary: $83,148 per year
Primary duties: A quality assurance manager oversees quality assurance processes by encouraging continuous improvement and solving quality problems. Quality managers resolve suppliers' performance issues, recommend corrective actions and manage direct reports. Their responsibilities also include achieving QA management certifications.
9. Director of quality
National average salary: $122,033 per year
Primary duties: A director of quality oversees all quality assurance processes. Also called quality assurance directors, these professionals set policies, create strategic plans and develop QA programs to improve quality. They train and coach employees and serve as administrators of QA management systems. They report to the president or vice president.
10. Vice president of quality
National average salary: $186,816 per year
Primary duties: A vice president of quality develops a work environment that encourages continual improvement. Vice presidents of quality supervise the quality department and establish the direction for quality improvement by monitoring the program and making necessary modifications. The vice president reports to the president.
What is a good boolean to use for searching QA engineers?
When searching for QA (Quality Assurance) engineers, a good Boolean search query may include keywords related to QA and testing, as well as specific skills and technologies that the QA engineer should have.
Here is an example Boolean search query that could be used to find QA engineers:
(quality OR "quality assurance" OR QA OR testing OR "test engineer" OR "software quality") AND (automation OR "test automation" OR "performance testing" OR "load testing" OR "stress testing" OR "functional testing" OR "regression testing" OR "manual testing" OR "test case management" OR "test execution" OR "bug tracking") AND (Selenium OR Appium OR TestComplete OR Jira OR "Continuous Integration" OR "Continuous Delivery" OR Jenkins OR "Software Development Engineer in Test" OR SDET)
This query looks for candidates with experience in quality assurance or testing, with specific skills in automation, test case management, and bug tracking, as well as experience with specific tools such as Selenium, Appium, TestComplete, Jira, Jenkins, or SDET.
It's worth noting that the search query may vary depending on the specific requirements of the role and the technologies that are being used in the company. And it's also important to note that Boolean search is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and you may need to tweak and adjust the query as per the requirement and the platform you are using for searching the candidates.
Where can I find QA engineers?
LinkedIn remains the best place to find developers, at least in the United States and Canada. Their Recruiter search has several fields you can use to search candidates, including title, location, current company, years of experience etc., and by creating a boolean search, the search can be narrowed down very effectively.
A quick search on the LinkedIn Recruiter portal shows more than 300k results:
In addition to searching on LinkedIn, here are some other ways to find and engage with QA engineering candidates:
- Job boards - Careerbuilder, Upwork, LinkedIn, Dice, Monster, Workable, SimplyHired, DevOps Job Board, SRE Job Board, Glassdoor, Remoteok.io (Remote), Craigslist (freelance) and Ladders, to name a few.
- Staffing companies - you can utilize staffing companies like Rocket, Robert Half, Randstad, and others to help you find a proficient DevOps/SRE developer.
- AI sourcing - you can use tools like Hireflow or Fetcher to source DevOps/SRE developers for you to engage.
Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals and knows technology recruiting inside out. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more through a variety of offerings and solutions.