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What is a QA engineer, and what do they do?

A manual QA job allows you to make some scenes around you better, improve the world a bit, and have a chance to grow every day. The experienced QA technical lead, Yevheniia German, talked about testing itself, told how to understand that you already have some skills for this profession, and how to define your inner QA superpower.

What is quality assurance? 

QA or quality assurance is a part of the software development process. Statistics say that we are using from 10 to 30 applications per day. Each application, website, and desktop application results from someone's job —  from QA and developers who make software.  

Developers are writing some code and QA engineers provide tests. They can be involved to provide full support and try to be on the side of a user. So, testing means that we can prove that the user of any application will have a successful experience, enjoy the application, and will not face some issues.

What is a QA engineer?

A lot of people think that testing is just searching for bugs. This is not entirely true. Let's imagine we want to develop a fitness application with some exercises and diet for a day. Every project of every application starts with an idea. Then we should understand what needs our users have and how people will use such applications. At this stage, QA engineers join the team. The specialist helps to analyze requirements and understand how we can move in our project.

After that, developers start their work. At the same time, QA engineers prepare additional documentation and try to imagine how customers will use one or another feature and which exact scenarios need to be covered. So, the actual testing stage starts in parallel with development.  

The most exciting phase is the release. During the release, QA engineers also provide lots of support. Sometimes QA engineers can even communicate with end users to get feedback and to collect it or make some improvements based on results. 

QA are people who communicate both with the development team and with customers. They try to understand both sides and make a product as good as possible. QA engineers always help applications to be stable and safe.

Quality is everyone's responsibility. But QA is the last point before real users. 

What do QA engineers or testers do:

  • communicate with team and customers;
  • analyze the software requirements;
  • create documentation and testing application;
  • make improvements to the team's work process.

Quality assurance is not only about exact product creation but all processes and making all teams feel more comfortable in this process. 

Soft skills for QA

If it's true for you, then maybe a QA role will be a good choice:

  • Willingness to make an order in chaos.
  • Empathy.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Willingness to learn every day.

Soft skills needed for a QA role:

Attention to detail. We talk about being organized and attentive both to colleagues and some requirements. 

Communication skills. Communication is not only about small talk; it is more about asking and trying to find an answer, solving the problem with the whole team, or reading the documentation.  

Problem-solving skills. It is also about the ability to find decisions, not just finding bugs and “throwing” them into your developer. It is more about trying to find a key to a problem trying to solve, sharing it with the team, and making your experience valuable for others.

Empathy. We are talking about the ability to step in your customer's shoes and also the ability to become the heart of the team and make everyone work together. Maybe, it is an inner QA superpower.

The career path for QA

There are two main ways to choose. 

The first one is growing your hard skills. It is becoming better at testing. For example, you can choose some exact specialization. You can test web applications, mobile applications, and so on. 

Becoming a QA and growing in this area by increasing hard skills and learning new tools is a chance to become a technical expert with a specialization. And many companies are looking for specialists who can build some specific processes for them.

Other paths are more about some kind of switching. On the one hand, they are based on hard skills and technical backgrounds. If you feel interested in learning some coding languages, you can try parallel work in QA to learn some languages to add some automation to your projects. And then, if you feel that it is yours, you can switch to development and continue your pass on this role. Many companies provide you with this chance because they are interested in your growth.  

The second way is growing your soft skills. We are talking about management and leadership. Suppose you feel confident in communication, people management, and risk management. In that case, you can choose this path and grow, for example, from a QA lead to a QA manager or a department manager. For this, you can take some courses to improve your skills, and try to lead a small team in the beginning.

Another point relates to changing positions, but we talk about deepening into requirements and business analysis. Business analytic specialists have a lot of communication with customers and development teams. So if you feel confident in this area and have good analytical skills, you can think about this path. There are many positions for QA analytics, not just business analysts, so it is positioned in between these two ways, and you can also be analytic in quality assurance. 

One of the most frequently asked questions is how to start; where can you get an experience in testing if you don't get hired without experience? It is hard, but it is possible. For example, some schools help their graduates by sharing vacancies in partner companies. 

You can also help your friends with testing some applications if someone has their own business. Besides, you can try to open applications you are frequently using, read QA theory, and try to go through and test them.

Many companies are ready to hire people without experience, just with a theoretical base, because it is a perfect way to grow the specialist you need for your product. 

One more question is, how can you practice QA and prepare a portfolio to use it to display your skills or experience?

It is hard to make a portfolio for QA because there is no visual data, code, and so on that could be shown to the employer. But QA has different testing tasks. So you can show how you can write a test case and prepare a bug report. You can practice on some site you are using, write this list of test cases, and write an example of bug reports. And if you are asked, you will share these examples as proof of your knowledge. 

After reading this article, if you feel that a career in QA is for you, then start your path at Beetroot Academy — read more about the QA manual course

The original video on which this text is based, watch here

Yevheniia Stentsel
Beetroot Academy blog author
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