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Like many other tech workers, quality assurance (QA) engineers need both hard and soft skillsWhy are soft skills important? to be successful. But gathering these skills could be worthwhile if you’re considering a new career move — the field of QA engineering can be quite lucrative3 Lucrative Careers Within the Quality Assurance Industry, among offering other perks.

Below, we break down what the role of QA engineer or tester entails, the specific QA skills required, and how to know if you have the traits to land the job.

What is a QA engineer or QA tester? 

Quality assurance engineersQA Engineer: A Quick and Easy Guide to the Job are essential for tech teams to deliver quality systems, tools, or applications that run smoothly and seamlessly, look great, and are easy and intuitive for users. 

They contribute to the software development process by catching pesky bugs and mistakes in code throughout the lifecycle and compiling bug reports — which is what differentiates them from quality control engineers, who typically get involved after a product is complete or launched. With the constant checks provided by a QA engineer, companies are able to use CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous deployment), which entails releasing small changes to code over time to fix or update software for a better user experience.

A typical task for a QA engineer involves finding the worst-case user scenario and testing existing or drafted code for outcomes. This requires QA engineers to have not only technical expertise but soft skills that allow them to properly communicate issues and brainstorm solutions with team members.

5 hard skills that a QA engineer needs

Here are some of the most important quality assurance tester skills you’ll need to get the job done:

1. Coding

Being a QA engineer isn’t the same as being a programmer, but coding is still an essential skill. The programming language you should specialize in depends on the type of role you’re chasing and the company you want to work for. However, knowing at least one will enable you to pinpoint where problems are and provide engineers with more information, making bugs easier and quicker to fix. 

JavaScript is used in both back-end and front-end development and is often seen as the easiest language to pick up, while Ruby is often used in just back-end development and specifically machine learning applications. To learn more about each, we break down which languages are most common for which tech jobs.

2. Automation testing

While manual testing is still a common practice in QA, automation testing helps speed up the process and reduce costs — so automation tools are essential.

Choosing one again depends on the requirements of the jobs you’re applying to. Selenium and Puppeteer are some of the more popular names in this space, with the former used in web and mobile applications and supporting multiple languages, and the latter created by Google and thus applicable to only Chrome or Chromium. WebdriverIO, another player in the space, is specifically designed for JavaScript frameworks.

3. SQL or basic database expertise

SQL and other database programming languages help developers sift through, manipulate, and extract data. Having this expertise can be valuable when testing for companies that collect or specialize in large data sets — you’ll be able to clean out unnecessary information, catch errors or inaccuracies in data, and help with data migration.

4. Knowledge of APIs

Application programming interfacesREST API: What Is It And Why Do Software Engineers Use It? (APIs) allow different applications to effectively communicate with one another. They’re used to protect user data, simplify processes, increase efficiency, and promote scalability, so QA engineers should have at least a basic understanding of how they work and the role they play in software development and testing. Some APIs are private, or only accessible and used internally, while others are public, allowing tech teams across sectors to share and combine data as needed to move business forward.

5. Project management tools such as Jira or YouTrack

Project management tools help developers stay organized when juggling multiple, and sometimes competing, priorities and tasks. They also create transparency, as QA engineers can easily see what various team members are working on, where progress is being made (or stalled), and where they need to jump in at any given time. With these tools on your resume, you show that you’re able to meet deadlines and collaborate remotely.

5 soft skills for quality assurance engineers

Paired with the above hard skills, these soft skills for QA testers can assist any career changer in making moves into tech:

1. Problem solving

In order to hunt down and highlight flaws in programming code, QA engineers need to have a keen eye and passion for problem solving. With problem solving skills also comes a strong attention to detail and analytical skills.

The good news is no matter what field you’re coming from, you probably already have this soft skill: Editors and proofreaders, for example, routinely look for mistakes and help make corrections and improvements that allow copy to flow better. Another example is IT technicians, such as TripleTen graduate Pedro FierrosRefashioning a Career in IT: Pedro Fierros’s TripleTen Story, who have to critically examine software or hardware to find the cause of a problem.

2. Time management

By working in sprints with specific goals, teams make sure they produce results on a regular basis and speed up the testing process. It also helps make sure bug reports are spread across the entire development cycle, rather than overloading developers with bug fixes close to release. 

Because of this, knowing how to organize and balance your time is key as a QA engineer. Time management skills are often tested and stretched to the limit in other lines of work. TV and film producers or event organizers are constantly running against deadlines while juggling other priorities, so a move to QA and tech isn’t that far off — just look at TripleTen grad A.C. SlametA Producer Switches to Tech to Find Time for Life: AC Slamet’s TripleTen Story.

3. Patience

Finding and fixing bugs is rarely resolved in just one go — you have to work at it over and over, sometimes for a long time or many iterations. Not only that, but as a QA engineer or tester you’re often dealing with the input of a lot of stakeholders, be it developers, managers, executives, or clients, to reach an agreeable solution. Patience and perseverance are among the top qualities a test engineer will benefit from.

Patience can be showcased in a variety of ways in your job search, even if it’s not in a technical setting. For example, teachers practice patience when dealing with a tough student or last-minute classroom emergency. Take a cue from TripleTen graduate Colin MaretskyFrom Teacher to Student to Front-End Engineer: Colin Maretksy’s TripleTen Story, who left a career teaching English to become a front-end engineer.

4. Creativity

QA engineers are often driven by curiosity and the desire to get to the root of problems. As you mature in your role and acquire more technical skills, you’ll start looking at issues from different angles and offer more innovative and more efficient solutions.

This is where creativity — combined with a working knowledge of coding languages — comes into play: You’ll be able to not only spot and fix bugs, but to also design your own solutions from the ground up.

The beauty of this is that it’s not uncommon for creative types, such as artistsAre You an Artist? Here’s How to Break into Software Engineering or designers, to go for — and succeed in — a career in tech.

5. Communication 

The role of a software tester revolves around spotting problems for other teams to fix, so communication skills are an absolute must. The more clearly and accurately you explain the problem, the quicker and easier engineers will be able to understand it and come up with a solution. You’ll also need to be able to confidently break down complex topics for project managers and stakeholders who may be less tech-savvy.

If you’ve ever been a part of a collaborative project or had to present an idea in a client or all-team meeting, you already have the interpersonal skills to do the job.

How to improve your quality assurance skills

Once you have these basic QA engineer skills, the best way to continue to grow and improve your testing skills is through practice and exposure. 

If you work for a tech company or have access to other developers or QA testers through your current job, raise your hand to be a part of upcoming assignments or shadow ongoing projects. Find a mentor who’s taken a similar career path or has expertise in your interest area and pick their brain over coffee. Attend popular networking events and panels in the field, such as LambdaTest’s Spartan Summit or STAREAST’s Testing Conference to stay up to date on the latest tools, trends, and approaches to quality assurance.

GitHub is another great place to put your skills to the test. By joining the open-source community, you’ll get to collaborate on and view projects by other developers — all while building a portfolio of concrete accomplishments that will impress hiring managers.

Finally, consider signing up for an online certification to continue your education and refine your skill set. TripleTen’s Quality Assurance Engineering Bootcamp is built specifically for beginners to QA engineering, and with a flexible, part-time schedule, it can be completed whenever works best for you, be it after work hours, on the weekends, or between parenting dutiesBalancing Motherhood and a Coding Bootcamp: Here’s How Five TripleTen Alumnae Made It Happen. More than 1,000 students have participated in TripleTen’s bootcamps, with 87% getting hired within 180 days of graduating.

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