If you’ve pondered going into IT, you’ve probably heard much talk about quality assurance testing as this popular, highly marketable, promising profession.
Indeed, QA testing is currently in demand; it requires easy-to-learn technical skills and is quite versatile, empowering a variety of career pathways in IT and QA.
Yet, before jumping on the bandwagon, you’ll want to know what QA testing is, what skills you need to become a tester and where to acquire them, and what responsibilities you will have as a QA tester, all of which we discuss in this article.
What is Quality Assurance Testing?
QA testing is the process of checking a system or one of its parts to make sure it meets all the requirements, works well, and gives the user a great experience.
Generally, quality assurance represents the final stage in product development. Prior to the product’s delivery to the customer and rollout, QA testers make sure that the product is bug-free.
Besides identifying errors that could hinder the end-users’ experience when interacting with the product, quality assurance also seeks to uncover missing requirements or requirement gaps in the product.
Thus, QA testers are vital to ensure the company provides excellent product development services to its clients.
Types of QA Testing: Manual vs. Automation
Quality assurance testing can be carried out manually or using automated tools. The goal of both is identical, but the methods differ.
In manual testing, a human tester performs the tests step-by-step. The tester checks all the product features and later generates the test report, all without the help of testing tools and scripts.
Manual testing is a classical QA method, more suitable for newcomers and those who don’t feel coding is their cup of tea, as it requires no programming skills and the use of frameworks. Its major benefit is the opportunity for human evaluation of the product’s usability.
However, on the downside, manual QA is more time-consuming and less reliable, thus more likely to be pushed aside by automation testing.
Automated testing means that testers write scripts using special tools that automate product test execution. This testing method relies entirely on these pre-scripted tests that run automatically and assess whether or not the product functions as it should.
The biggest advantage of QA testing automation is its greater test execution speed compared to the manual method.
In terms of reliability, automated QA is more reliable as it eliminates the human factor – but scrips can miss bugs that would otherwise be visible to a human.
For wannabe automation testers, it’s essential to note that this testing method requires the knowledge of programming languages for writing scripts, as well as the ability to work in frameworks such as Selenide, Serenity, Data Driven, Hybrid, BDD, etc.
The bottom line: For those keen on grasping programming, automated testing is a better career path, as it currently offers higher wages and a more prospective future in the automation-striving industry.
Nevertheless, manual QA is a great choice for those just entering IT. Moreover, it’s perfectly viable for manual testers to learn to code and switch to automated testing if wanted – in fact, their previous manual QA experience might even benefit their later job-seeking efforts.
Quality Assurance Tester Skills
To become a successful QA tester, you’ll need to possess a set of technical and soft skills. In this section, we go over the basic skillset of both types.
Note that technical skills mentioned here refer to automation testers, though even you folks, fond of manual testing, can have a peep to find out what lies ahead in case you up your career stakes.
Technical QA Tester Skills
- Programming skills: Programming languages are a must for writing test scripts. Generally, the languages known by QA testers are Ruby, Python, Java, and C#.
- Linux skills: Most software is deployed on Linux which is why it’s essential that testers possess knowledge of Linux and its commands.
- Database and SQL skills: For software testing, testers have to know the basics of databases to verify, insert, delete, or update data. To perform this, a tester must know how to perform SQL commands and queries.
- Testing tool skills: In software testing, testers use tools such as Selenium, Robotium, TestComplete, and Kobiton to perform browser, desktop, API testings, and more.
In addition to these, the list of technical skills of QA testers may include knowledge of defect tracking tools, UNIX commands, API, Version Control System, etc. Of course, the required technical skillset will vary across companies and projects, so it’s best to develop your skills per your passions and affinities.
When it comes to the technical skills of quality assurance testers, it’s important to say that testers need to constantly upgrade their existing skills and acquire new ones, as the development industry is growing at a fast rate.
Soft QA Tester Skills
- Analytical skills: Analytical thinking is crucial for QA testers, and you basically have to break up a complex system into smaller units and understand its varied features and operations.
- Communication skills: Although it may seem QA testing is a lonesome job, testers need to have great verbal and written communication skills. QA testing involves crafting lots of plans, strategies, and reports – plus, you will be working closely with a development team, who, mind you, can get a bit defensive of their code.
- Time management skills: Efficient workflow, productivity, and time management are key to a successful QA tester.
- The right mindset: A QA tester’s level of attention to detail can make or break a project. The willingness to learn enables testers to stay on top of constant product development innovations, and a proactive approach will set a tester apart in this highly competitive industry.
What Are the QA Tester’s Responsibilities
Quality assurance is an important part of product development. Its job is to make sure that the digital product is free of bugs, runs at its best, and has a smooth interface.
Testers perform various tests – manually or automatically – at different stages of the development cycle. These test cases include performance, functional, scalability, user acceptance, and other tests.
Upon testing, QA testers share test results with the development team to facilitate product enhancements.
QA testers are usually brought in at early development stages, such as product planning or design, and they remain involved throughout the process and post-launch support.
In fact, most testers work side by side with development teams, relying on the DevOps methodology which merges development and operations.
In other words, the product is developed, tested, and delivered in a continuous loop where designers, testers, developers, and all other team members work synchronously to maximize product results.
In addition to working with development teams, quality assurance testers are tasked with interacting with the client to get acquainted with the product requirements.
Where to Learn QA Testing
As with pretty much any digital skill, you can acquire basic QA knowledge on the web. There’s an abundance of free and paid online courses on QA testing on platforms such as Coursera and Udemy.
Of course, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that cover both specific questions regarding QA testing, as well as explain the general concepts.
Aspiring QA testers can practice their knowledge across the web, e.g., on demo websites including Demoblaze, WPmobilepack, Juice-Shop, and DemoQA, which are all demo eCommerce sites for polishing up your software testing skills.
Where to Find Work as a QA Tester
As we’ve mentioned in the beginning, the demand for QA testers in the market is on the rise.
Whether you opt for manual or automation testing, you can find a great position as an in-house tester at product development companies, or work for some of the best software testing companies that outsource their services to software development agencies.
Of course, besides companies, quality assurance testers can find amazing freelance opportunities.
Later on, quality assurance testers can leap into other careers, such as product managers, DevOps, QA strategists, full-time developers, etc.
All in all, quality assurance is a prospective career that is surely yet to reach its peak as software continues to permeate larger portions of our daily lives.