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Quality Assurance Tester Career Guide

What is a quality assurance tester?

A quality assurance tester, often called a QA tester, is a professional responsible for ensuring the quality and functionality of products or software before they are delivered to the end user. Their role is critical in the development lifecycle, acting as the final checkpoint before a product is released. These testers serve as the eyes and ears of potential users, meticulously going through a product to catch and document any inconsistencies, errors, or areas of improvement.

The primary purpose of their position is to safeguard the organization’s reputation by preventing defective products from reaching the market. In a broader sense, they bridge the gap between the development team and the end users, ensuring that the latter receive a product of the highest possible quality and meets their expectations.

Duties and responsibilities

Quality assurance testers are responsible for a range of tasks that focus on product testing and quality control. They develop and execute test plans, ensuring they cover all possible scenarios where a user might encounter issues. This involves both manual testing, where they personally use the product, and automated testing using specialized software tools.

They meticulously document any defects or issues, providing clear feedback to developers to rectify them. In addition, they might be tasked with reproducing specific issues to understand their root cause and provide insights into potential solutions. Beyond the actual testing, they may also participate in product design reviews to offer feedback from a quality perspective.

Work environment

The work environment of a quality assurance tester can vary depending on the industry and organization they are in. Those in software or tech industries often work in office settings alongside developers and other product team members. Here, they might have access to dedicated testing labs filled with various devices and platforms to test on. In manufacturing or production environments, they might be found on factory floors or in testing labs, interacting directly with physical products.

Regardless of the setting, a QA tester’s workspace is usually equipped with the tools and technologies necessary for thorough testing and documentation. Collaboration is a key aspect of their role, making communication with team members is essential.

Typical work hours

For most quality assurance testers, a standard 40-hour work week is common, aligned with typical business hours. However, as product release or software launch dates approach, they might find themselves working longer hours or weekends to ensure all tests are completed, and any issues are resolved. In industries where continuous deployment or frequent updates are common, such as the software industry, there might be shifts or rotations in testing to accommodate these rapid release cycles.

How to become a quality assurance tester

This career guide section outlines the steps to become a quality assurance tester. This profession requires a unique blend of technical understanding and detailed operations knowledge to ensure software’s faultless execution.

Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma

A high school diploma or GED equivalent is the bare minimum educational requirement for entering the field of quality assurance testing. As part of their coursework, those interested should pay particular attention to subjects like mathematics and computer science to build the foundation for future technical training.

Step 2: Earn a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or related fields is highly desirable, although some employers may accept equivalent work experience. During undergraduate studies, students typically learn about programming languages, data management, and software development, all of which are essential skills for QA testing.

Step 3: Gain practical experience

Entry-level technology or software development positions can provide vital, hands-on experience. These roles can include work in tech support, software development, or system administration. These positions enable aspiring testers to better understand the software development process.

Step 4: Get certified

Securing a quality assurance certification can greatly enhance job prospects. Organizations like the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the QAI Global Institute offer respected certification programs. These usually involve several prerequisite requirements and passing an examination.

Step 5: Craft a resume and cover letter

Like any other competitive job, having a well-written resume and cover letter is key. Be sure to highlight any relevant experience, education, and certifications related to the field of QA testing.

Step 6: Nail the job interview

Once you’ve secured an interview, preparation is key. You should familiarize yourself with common QA testing interview questions and relevant technical concepts. Engage your interviewer with thoughtful questions about their testing processes and challenges, showcasing your proactive mindset and understanding of the role.

How much do quality assurance testers make?

Quality assurance tester salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Factors including the complexity of the software being tested, their familiarity with the software’s domain area, and their ability to design test cases and identify bugs can deeply affect compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • Pharmaceuticals and Medicine Manufacturing – $92,340
  • Software Publishers – $90,890
  • Data Processing and Hosting – $87,600
  • Scientific Research and Development Services – $85,890
  • Information Services – $84,230

Highest paying states

  • California – $96,890
  • Washington – $94,320
  • New Jersey – $91,760
  • Massachusetts – $89,280
  • New York – $87,540

Browse quality assurance tester salary data by market

Types of quality assurance testers

Below, we highlight the various career types and areas of specialization for quality assurance testers.

Manual tester

In this realm, testing happens manually without the help of automated tools or scripts. A manual tester checks software for defects by executing the test cases and mimicking potential user behaviors to identify any issues. They play a significant role in finding bugs that automated testing might overlook, providing a vital service in the software development process.

Automated tester

Focusing on automated testing, automated testers use tools and scripts to expedite the testing process. By creating automated tests, they can reproduce predefined actions and compare the expected to the actual outcomes. This specialization is vital to handle repetitive tasks and large-scale testing, improving efficiency and speed in the software testing phase.

Performance tester

As a performance tester, the primary focus is on how the system performs under load. They design and execute tests to evaluate response time, speed, reliability, and system capacity under different workloads. Their inputs can play an essential role in enhancing user experience and the overall performance of the application or software in question.

Security tester

Security testers specialize in evaluating a system’s safety measures and vulnerabilities. They perform tests to detect security flaws, such as unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats. By identifying these potential risks, they help developers and organizations take necessary precautions and safeguards to secure the software from potential threats.

User experience tester

A user experience tester’s main responsibility is to ensure the software, application, or website provides an optimal experience for users. They assess elements like navigability, ease of use, design quality, and user interface. By simulating user navigation and interactions, they provide feedback that aids in enhancing the user interface and user experience overall.

Top skills for quality assurance testers

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a quality assurance tester. We explore the competencies that contribute significantly to mastering this profession.

Analytical skills

Excelling in this role depends on strong analytical skills. The ability to assess software, identify strengths and weaknesses, and discover potential areas of improvement is fundamental. An analytical mind will enable you to find the patterns and trends necessary to ensure a software product’s high standard.

Attention to detail

Given the critical nature of quality assurance tasks, meticulous attention to detail is a must. Tiny errors can lead to significant faults in the completed software. Therefore, rigorous scrutiny is vital to avoid overlooking even the smallest intricacies that could potentially become major issues.

Technical knowledge

A robust understanding of programming languages, software development processes, and technical aspects of various software applications is key. Familiarity with the latest testing tools can also streamline the quality assurance process and increase the efficiency of your tasks.

Communication skills

Relaying your findings effectively to the software development team is crucial in this role. Consequently, good written and oral communication skills are needed to present complex information in an accessible and understandable way.

Problem-solving abilities

Given that the job involves identifying issues and bugs in software, it’s essential to have strong problem-solving abilities. The skill of devising practical solutions for diagnosed problems will contribute to your performance as a quality assurance tester.

Career path options

If you’re a quality assurance tester looking for the next step in your career, there are a variety of paths you can take. The direction you decide to go will depend largely on your interests and skills.

You might choose to specialize further in testing and become a senior tester. This role involves leading a team of testers, providing technical guidance, and coordinating test activities. It would be a logical next step if you enjoy hands-on testing work and have strong leadership skills.

Another option is to transition into a business analyst role. As a business analyst, you would work closely with stakeholders to understand their requirements. You would serve as a link between users and technical teams, ensuring system developments meet user needs. This role could be a good fit if you have strong communication skills and enjoy problem-solving.

If you’re interested in the technical side of things, you could consider becoming a software developer. In this role, you would design, code, and debug software according to the project’s requirements. Knowledge and experience gained in testing could prove invaluable in this role, as you would have a good understanding of common defects and effective testing strategies.

Beyond these traditional career paths, other roles might be of interest. For instance, there’s project management. In this role, you would be responsible for planning and managing projects from start to finish. This would require a strong understanding of the software development lifecycle and excellent organizational skills.

Quality assurance manager is another potential role. It offers wider responsibilities, like managing a larger team and setting quality standards. This opportunity allows you to keep your focus on the testing realm but with a broader scope.

Finally, there’s the option to move into a consultancy role. This would involve advising businesses on how to improve their processes and systems to increase efficiency and quality. It’s an ideal career path if you enjoy problem-solving and providing strategic advice.

Today, the emphasis on agile testing and the rising need for faster delivery times are making their mark on the industry. This approach encourages frequent revision and adjustment of a project’s scope, ensuring that the final product is the best it can be.

Another trend currently shaping the profession is automation. With increased software complexity, testing manually is becoming time-consuming and often repetitive. As such, an emerging trend is the integration of more advanced automated testing tools into both the operational and management levels. The implications for testers are vast, as it requires them to keep up-to-speed with the latest technologies and methodologies in addition to their routine tasks.

In addition, the necessity for higher levels of information security is making an impact. With cyber threats ever evolving and advancing, the role of a QA tester now encompasses a notable focus on security checks. Testing a product’s vulnerability and threat management has become integral, profoundly changing the profession’s landscape.

Employment projections for quality assurance testers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, although specific data for quality assurance testers is not separately listed, the occupation falls under “Software Developers and Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers.” Expected job growth through 2031 for this category is projected to be about 25 percent, much faster than average for all jobs.

Quality assurance tester career tips

Understand the product well

One of the key ways to succeed as a quality assurance tester is to have a comprehensive understanding of the product you’re testing. Learn about its purpose, functionality, and the problem it aims to solve. Speak with product managers, developers, and the marketing team for multiple perspectives. The more you know about the product, its intended market, and its end users, the better you are at spotting potential issues and inconsistencies.

Master test automation tools

With the rise of agile development practices, automated testing has become necessary. Learn and master automated testing tools relevant to your company’s tech stack. Selenium, JUnit, and TestNG are some widely used tools. It not only improves accuracy but also significantly cuts down the time required to perform repetitive tests.

Build a professional network

Joining relevant professional associations and networks can be a great way to keep yourself updated about industry trends and best practices. It also provides opportunities to connect with other professionals in your field and share knowledge and experiences.

  • Association for Software Testing (AST)
  • International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)
  • American Society for Quality (ASQ)

Opt for continuous learning

Like most fields in technology, QA testing is continually evolving, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date. Ongoing learning can help you stay abreast of new testing tools, methodologies, and best practices.

  • Enroll in online courses related to QA testing
  • Attend seminars and workshops about the latest QA methodologies
  • Obtain certifications like Certified Software Tester (CSTE), Certified Agile Tester (CAT), and ISTQB Certified Tester

Where the jobs are


  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Facebook


  • California
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • New York
  • Illinois

job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • SimplyHired


What educational background is typically required for a quality assurance tester?

While it isn’t a strict requirement across all industries, most quality assurance testers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field like computer science or information technology. An understanding of programming languages and systems is typically desired. Experience can sometimes replace formal education, particularly in tech-focused industries where practical know-how is highly valued.

What soft skills are beneficial for a quality assurance tester to possess?

Quality assurance testers must have strong analytical skills to identify problems and find solutions. Excellent attention to detail is crucial as it ensures every aspect of a product is evaluated thoroughly. Good communication skills are also important as you need to provide feedback to the development team and explain technical issues in a manner everyone can understand.

What types of tools does a quality assurance tester typically use in their daily work?

In their work, quality assurance testers frequently use specialized software for tracking bugs and documenting issues. Applications for managing projects and workflows like JIRA and Trello are commonly used. In testing software, they might use automated testing tools, performance testing tools, and debugging software. The specific tools used can vary depending on the industry and company.

What challenges does a quality assurance tester typically face?

One of the primary challenges quality assurance testers face is keeping up with changing technologies and constantly learning new software and tools. They also often face pressure and time constraints to identify and report problems before a product’s release. Another challenge can be communicating about technical issues with team members who may not have the same level of technical understanding.

What is the work environment typically like for a quality assurance tester?

Most quality assurance testers work in an office environment as part of an in-house team or within a specialized testing firm. Depending on the company, they may work alone or in small teams. The job can sometimes be stressful, especially near product launches with tight deadlines. That being said, many testers enjoy problem-solving and contributing to a product’s success.

Do quality assurance testers require any certifications?

While not universally required, certifications can enhance a quality assurance tester’s credentials. The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) offers several certification levels that are globally recognized. Certifications show a commitment to professional development and provide a level of expertise. However, the need for certifications ultimately depends on the specific job requirements and the employer’s preference.

What is a typical day like for a quality assurance tester?

A typical day for a quality assurance tester can involve various tasks. The morning might start with a check-in meeting with the team. Then, most of the day can be dedicated to testing parts of the product, identifying bugs or errors, and documenting them accurately. They might also run automated testing tools. Part of their time may be spent collaborating with the development team to prioritize and resolve issues. Daily activities can vary depending on the specific project or product they are working on.

What kind of companies hire quality assurance testers?

Quality assurance testers are needed in virtually any industry where products or software are developed. This includes tech companies, video game studios, web development agencies, and manufacturing companies. They can also find work in government agencies and non-profit organizations. Some testers also work as freelancers or consultants, providing testing services to various clients.

What is the most rewarding part of being a quality assurance tester?

The most rewarding part of being a quality assurance tester often comes from knowing that their work directly impacts the quality of a product. Their attention to detail might be the difference between a product’s success and failure. Finding and solving problems before they reach the consumer can be very satisfying.