Quality assurance specialists play an important role in the software development process. You could say that they are the unsung heroes you never hear about. Simply put, they are the ones who need to make sure that a software product is released with the least amount of defects problems.
In order to achieve this, a QA specialist checks the quality, evaluates and tests new product implementations, integrations and releases. They also verify, among other things, that business requirements are met.
In this article, we’ll review the main characteristics of the profession to give you an idea of what is a quality assurance specialist and what skills are required to start your first steps in this career.
But First… What Is a QA Specialist?
The first question that needs to be answered is “What is a QA specialist?”
Let’s begin with the difference between a QA Specialist and a Software Tester.
A Software Tester’s main responsibilities are…
- … to find as many bugs as possible by performing various types of tests
- … to ensure that no critical issues would remain unaddressed during the development of the application
In short: the end goal for a software tester is that the developed app will be released with a minimal number of bugs
A QA Specialist’s main responsibility is to ensure the high quality of the developed app. Their focus leans towards answering one simple question – “Will our application satisfy the client’s needs?”. With that in mind, a QA Specialist can make propositions that could improve the overall UX and ensure that the quality is maintained
In short: The end goal for the QA Specialist is to deliver a high-quality product that satisfies the client’s expectations and requirements
The main similarity between a software tester and a QA specialist is that both perform various types of tests, isolate bugs, and identify areas where the application can be improved.
Some of these test types are:
- Unit tests
- Integration tests
- Functional tests
- Performance tests
- … and many more
This article won’t cover the basics of these tests, but you can head over here for further reading.
Becoming a QA Specialist
The first thing that needs to be covered is the required skills for starting as a QA specialist:
Personal skills which are most valued:
- Analytical skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work in a team
- Organizational skills
- The desire to constantly learn and improve
- Good communication skills (both written and verbal)
- Understanding the Software Development Life cycle
- Knowing the fundamentals of software testing
- Have a basic knowledge of Linux
- Programming skills and hands-on experience with test automation tools. This is of great importance if the aim is to pursue a path in test automation
- There are additional technical requirements that depend on what type of product is being tested (for example – software for the automotive industry, mobile applications, web sites, games, etc.)
- Certificates – Although not mandatory, certificates provide additional credibility to a QA specialist job. There are many certificates that are issued for the completion of courses. The one that is internationally accepted is issued by the ISTQB. More information about ISTQB and the certificates it issues can be found here.
Useful Tips and Resources to Start You on the Path of QA
- Crowd testing platforms – a good starting point to get experience in testing various digital products.
- Courses – both online and offline courses provide the fundamentals of testing. As an added benefit, they also provide certification which can be an advantage when applying for a QA position.
- Never rely on courses and theoretical preparation alone. Practical experience is key here.
- Join online QA communities – the general benefit here is that you will get to interact with other QAs. That way you can get advice, experience, and even job offers.
- Attend QA conferences and events. That’s one more way to engage with the community and gain valuable experience.
- Software defects (or bugs) are not Pokémon, so don’t strive to “catch ‘em all”, because that’s an almost impossible task.
QA communities and resources to check out:
- Ministry of Testing
- Testing Curator Blog
- Guru99 – provides a collection of tutorials that cover the basics of software testing.
- Automate The Planet
The Resume of a QA:
The main piece of advice, when creating your resume, is to focus on including relevant information based on the position that you are applying for. Any relevant certificates or even a repository with personal projects ( for example experiments with test automation), can be an advantage.
Anton Angelov from Automate The Planet has written an awesome article in that regard. It contains valuable do’s and don’ts when preparing a resume for a QA Specialist position.
The Funny Side of the QA Job:
Let’s face it, not everything is seriousness and we all need to unwind from time to time.
QA Specialists are no different and we do love to have some fun ourselves.
Let’s start with some quotes and funny jokes: here and here.
Never skip QA in your development process, because if you do …
But remember …
QA specialists play a vital role in the software development process. These are the people who ensure that the quality is kept at a high level and that the client’s requirements are met. All the above are a good base to begin one’s journey in the world of Quality Assurance.