Inside Software Quality Assurance Specialist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Anyone Can QA...
What most surprised me about my profession is that it is extremely accessible to a wide variety of people. By his I mean, that anyone can get into my line of work, all it takes is motivation and a keen eye." (Quality Assurance; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Graphic Design at Spokane Falls Community College in Washington; completed Associate degree in 2007

"Time Management Skills As Important As Writing Capabilities...
I was surprised to learn that technical writing requires good time management skills. One must be able to estimate time required for specific deliverables, taking into account time spent on research, developing content, reviews from colleagues and revising content based on feedback." (Technical Writer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied English at Florida International University in Florida; completed Associate degree in 2010

"Don't Need Computer Training To Test...
I was surprised to find out that software testing does not require extensive education in computer science. Even with a liberal arts degree, all I needed was to be a quick learner to do my job." (Quality Assurance; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, female
School: Studied Anthropology at Vassar College in Connecticut; completed Bachelor degree in 1991

"Variety Of Skills Needed...
I was surprised at the amount of project organization and technical writing which is required. I spend far more time communicating with other co-workers than I thought I would." (Software Test Engineer; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Oregon State University in Oregon; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"Time Intensive...
I was surprised at how much time was required in a typical week to get a project done. Most of the time, my professors would say that quality assurance was simple and required only a handful of hours a week. I now end up working well over forty hours trying to make sure everything is perfect." (QA Tester; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Florida State University in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I was surprised to find that after years of always wanting to work solo, I was able to work coherently and positively within a team at my company. Because of the nature of software development, you must always be able to work together in order to ship a good product. It's touched upon in school, but it's not fully explored until you meet the real world." (Software Developer In Test; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Virginia Tech in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Test Engineer: "The nice thing about test engineering is that it tends to attract people who have a great deal of intelligence, so you will be able to work other talented people while you test. Another nice thing is that you are always kept abreast of the latest technological changes. A couple of downsides include long hours and workdays and incredibly short job cycles that often cause engineers to have to look for more than two jobs in a year." (2011)

Senior Quality Assurance Engineer: "Best parts: Flexible hours. I need to work between 7 - 9 hours a day. And I should make sure to be in the office between 10 am and 4pm. But other than that, I choose my hours. Usually interesting work -- every day is a challenge. Figuring out what steps are needed to make a bug happen is very interesting. Worse parts: My job is fantastic -- there are very few bad parts. In some QA jobs, the work can be very repetitive -- you need to follow the instructions of test scripts to run through the product over and over again. Even writing test scripts is boring. In my current QA job, we produce small software so quickly that test scripts do not make sense -- so that boring part does not happen at my current job." (2011)

Senior Quality Assurance Engineer: "The best part of the job is that you get to be a kind of detective who finds bugs and solves mysteries of problems that arise on the application in the production. Most of the time, problems aren't what they appear to be at the surface, and to solve them permanently usually involves in-depth technical analysis, talking to lots of people, reviewing product history and documentation and more. The worst part is time constraint. Within the given day or two I need to complete testing the whole application, each and every functionality, enhancement requests and defect fixes. If there is a automation script, that needs to be modified to meet the current change. It is not a eight hour a day job, we need to be available after work hours whenever there is a problem in the production. We need to be ready to test the emergency patch build as quick as possible in order to avoid downtime in the production environment." (2011)

Career Background

Software Quality Assurance Specialist

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Keep A Fresh Perspective...
Never forget the end-user's perspective. Pay attention to the things that you start to take for granted once you gain skill in using computers and software." (Quality Assurance; 2013)

"Thinking Is Not Over Rated...
Spend as much time as you can thinking. Think about what you are working for or creating. Think about how it can be better. Then make it so." (Quality Assurance; 2013)

"Education Combined With Experience...
Spend time working in your field while attending school. The combination of classroom learning and real-world experience is invaluable." (Software Test Engineer; 2013)

"Project Management And People Skills Necessary...
Read books or take courses on time and/or project management. Build up your interpersonal skills as you will need to work with others to track down the information you need." (Technical Writer; 2013)

"Consider Test Engineering As A Stepping Stone...
If you are just starting out now and are considering a career in test engineering, I would recommend that you think about which career choices you will make after you finish being a test engineer. With the onset of automation, many test engineers have been replaced with software developers that are just starting out as employees for the first time. As most developers do not plan to remain test engineers, they usually remain a test engineer for 6 months to 2 years and then move into another position. Knowing what kind of position you might move into after your time as a test engineer before you start will help make you more focused." (Test Engineer; 2011)

"Tech Support A Good Pre-Requisite...
1 - Knowing at least one programming language makes it easier to be hired as a QA Engineer. It will actually be useful in only some jobs, but it will always make it easier to GET a QA job. 2 - I got into the field by doing Tech Support. You learn a lot in most tech support jobs! 3 - You may be working with computer software, but people skills are surprisingly important -- you'll be working with folks all day long. Asking and answering questions, working out schedules and figuring out puzzles together." (Senior Quality Assurance Engineer; 2011)

"What It Takes To Be A Good QA Engineer...
The basic requirement is BS degree, act as a liaison to customers, attention to details, able to understand or visualize the product, think outside the box, study some programming that will help to understand the code as a white box tester, basic data base knowledge to verify large amount of data directly in the database and xml knowledge. Learn some automation tools to automate the testing activities, knowledge of black box, white box, functional, end to end, system and regression testing, able to do performance testing, cross-platform testing and user acceptance testing." (Senior Quality Assurance Engineer; 2011)