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How to Turn Bugs into Promotions

Justin K. Mar 23, 2020 Testing

Quality assurance, or QA, is an invaluable part of the software development process. Without robust QA processes in place, businesses risk a bad user experience that leads to a higher turnover and a poor reputation. QA engineers are the ones responsible for developing and executing exploratory and automated tests to ensure product quality.

The QA engineer role is one of the fastest-growing and most rapidly evolving positions in software development. With the rise of QA test automation, they have taken a much bigger role in the development process and are often responsible for writing tests and incorporating them into a continuous integration and deployment process.

Let's take a look at typical QA engineer career paths and how you can pitch your worth to move up the ranks.

Find Your Career Path

Quality assurance is a common entry point into the software industry that opens the door to many different career paths. You don't need as much coding experience as a developer, but you can gain valuable experience to make the jump. It's also an ideal jumping-off point into more business-centric career paths since you work with both business and technical teams.

Some of the most popular career paths include:

  • Software Developer - Software development may be a desirable career path if you're interested in the technical side of quality assurance and enjoy writing code.
  • Business Analyst - The business analyst position is a common career path if you're interested in working closer to the business team to develop the product's capabilities.
  • Product Manager - Product management may be an attractive area if you're interested in the actual product and want to influence the roadmap and direction.
  • DevOps - DevOps careers may be compelling if you're interested in continuous integration and deployment processes and troubleshooting performance issues.

You might also double down on the quality assurance rather than moving into another part of the business by moving up the ladder from a junior QA engineer to a QA engineering manager. Top-performing QA engineers earn just as much as many top developers. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft QA engineers typically earn between $200,000 and $220,000 per year, according to Paysa.

Expand Your QA Skills

Many businesses are transitioning from manual QA testing to QA test automation in an effort to develop more reliable tests and increase their test coverage. If you don’t know how to write test scripts or use automation tools, these are the most important fundamentals to understand in order to prepare yourself for the future of quality assurance.

There are countless resources for learning how to write test scripts and use popular QA tools such as Selenium or JMeter. You can pursue certifications, read books, complete tutorials or take online courses to learn everything from writing test scripts to deploying them in a continuous integration and deployment environment.

Some popular educational resources include:

In addition to writing test scripts, you may be responsible for integrating the tests into continuous integration and deployment solutions like Jenkins. You may also have to generate reports and translate the results into bug reports for developers. These tasks may require working with a wide range of different platforms such as Jira.

Maximize Efficiency

Successful QA engineers leverage technology to make their own lives easier as well as improve testing efficiency. For example, Selenium may be a vital part of a QA test automation suite, but even if your company hasn’t automated tests, it can be invaluable in automating parts of your manual QA testing to cover more ground.

Browser plugins are another area where QA test engineers can increase efficiency. Chrome Developer Tools and Firebug may be common but there are many others to consider. For instance, Lorem Ipsum generators can quickly create fake text for exploratory tests and WonderSwitcher makes it easy to quickly run localization tests in the browser.

In some cases, you may want to look at QA software that enables you to create tests without code (e.g. record and replay UI and load tests). These applications make it easier to quickly scale up test coverage without worrying about writing scripts, although there are trade-offs when it comes to vendor lockin.

Prove Your Value

The most popular industry certification for QA engineers is the Professional Quality Engineer Certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The 175-question exam covers everything from team skills to requirements engineering to analysis and reporting techniques. It's a great way to prove your knowledge and increase the odds of a promotion.

If you're pursuing a horizontal career move, you may want to consider courses or certifications in those areas. For example, QA engineers that want to get into software development may want to consider taking a coding bootcamp or reading classic computer science literature, such as Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) and Algorithms to understand the fundamentals.

While technical skills are always desirable, the biggest difference between a good QA engineer and a great QA engineer is communication. You should focus on being a great communicator that works well with others. The ability to consistently turn out high-quality work is rare in almost any industry — especially quality assurance.

The Bottom Line

Quality assurance is an important part of the software development process. Over the past several years, the QA process has evolved from manual testing to test automation. Modern test engineers are responsible for everything from writing test scripts to integrating them into continuous integration and deployment processes.

There are many different ways to level up your career depending on your desired career path and goals. By learning to code, leveraging helpful tools and working on other areas, you can prove your value and increase your chances of a promotion or successful career change. The key is putting in the effort and making the ask.

If you're a QA engineer, you may want to check out WonderProxy for localization tests. Our global network enables you to see what your website looks like to customers around the world via an easy-to-use browser plugin for manual tests or an easy-to-use integration with Selenium and other automation tools. Explore our plans today to learn more!

Justin K.

Justin is a technical writer and developer with over a decade of software development experience.