When you were younger, did you ever think about being a cookie test taster? Heck, maybe you want that job now. While it may sound like all fun and games, there’s actually skill that goes into quality assurance. And that’s exactly what you would be doing — evaluating the quality of the cookies.
While we can’t give you a roadmap into the taste-testing business, there are definitely steps you can take to get into quality assurance. And if you’re thinking about getting into tech, QA engineering is a good starting point. From there, you can move in various directions, including software engineering and product management.
If you think QA might be a good fit, but not exactly sure what positions to strive for, we’ve got your back. Keep reading to learn three lucrative careers you can easily take on within the quality assurance industry.
1. Manual Tester
As the name implies, manual testers create and execute test scripts without using automated tools. This is where all QA engineers begin their journeyQA Engineer: A Quick and Easy Guide to the Job as they learn to test web applications, mobile apps, and other software products.
Manual testers identify defects, prepare documentation and report their findings to the development team.
As part of the QA department, you may also be tasked with analyzing the errors you’ve discovered and offering potential solutions.
The types of testing include regression and exploratory testing. The former involves retesting the software to ensure that updates don’t spoil the whole thing. For the latter, you don’t design test cases in advance but do it as you go.
2. QA Automation Engineer
QA automation takes your testing game to the next level. Here, instead of running your tests one by one, you write automated scripts and use tools that run them repeatedly for you. This approach streamlines the process by drastically increasing coverage and reducing testing time.
Automation engineers play a key role in maintaining continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD).
In practical terms, it means that, as an automation engineer, you write scripts and build pipelines. They enable your product, for example, an e-commerce website, to be regularly and seamlessly updated.
There are dozens of automation tools to choose from and to master. Their choice depends on the type of product you need to test and the languages you know. To name a few, Selenium is used to test web applications; Appium is great for mobile apps; and Postman simplifies the testing of application programming interfaces, known as APIs.
3. Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)
SDETs do many of the things that automation engineers do. However, these specialists need an even stronger mastery of programming languages, because their role is a composite of software engineering and quality assurance. Basically, they’re programmers who write code to test other people’s code.
Compared to automation engineers, SDETs have more responsibilities. They often write testing scripts and design frameworks (think of it as the infrastructure for building test cases) as opposed to using the existing ones.
Plus, they integrate automated tests into the CI/CD pipeline.
Being well-versed in the two sides of software development, SDETs act as an important link between the QA and Dev teams. They collaborate closely with programmers and take part in code reviews to develop and implement better testing practices.
Take a cue from Luke SchmidtForging His Own Path to Tech: Luke Schmidt’s TripleTen Story. After working a few odd jobs, Luke wanted something more fulfilling. After learning critical skills through his coding bootcamp, he landed a job in quality insurance at a fintech company. “I'm a QA analyst and a developer-in-training with the intent of transitioning to full time dev in the next year,” he says. “My company pretty much starts everyone off as a quality assurance analyst to learn the basics of the project, and then transitions people into development, typically four to eight months later.”
Starting out in QA can give you an opportunity to switch to another speciality — and the chance to find the best fit for you.
How to become a QA engineer
Being a QA engineer, you design and run lots of tests to spot bugs and help debug software.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a relevant technical discipline could be a sure way to get into QA and tech. However, it is also the longest and most expensive road of the three. And though many employers would want you to have a degree, formal education is hardly mandatory these days. Your practical skills and experience matter more. And to get those, you don’t have to attend university for four years.
Self-education may seem the simplest option and it’s definitely the cheapest one. Just go to YouTube, type in something like “QA Engineering Full Course” or “Software Testing Tutorial,” and here you are. If you have enough discipline and can do without mentoring, practical advice and feedback you can do it all on your own.
Or you can go the third way and enroll in an online bootcamp like TripleTen, where you’ll never walk alone. At TripleTen, you’ll study in a work-simulated environment, guided by a team of tutors, community managers, and career coaches. We offer a very hands-on program that will prepare you for your break into tech in just five months.