Career Definition for a Software Quality Assurance Engineer
Software quality assurance engineers, often called QA engineers or specialists, are extremely detail-oriented, methodical workers who consult with managers on product goals, anticipate user behaviors and write software test cases. They also implement automated test scripts, troubleshoot software bugs and document application procedures. Potential employers may include computer systems design companies, computer and electronics manufacturers or software publishers.
|Education||Bachelor's degree in relevant field; some jobs require graduate degrees and professional certification|
|Job Skills||Computer software knowledge, communication skills|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$63,670 for QA engineers|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)**||24% for software developers|
Sources: *Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Although educational requirements can vary by employer, many firms look for graduates of a bachelor's degree program in computer science, information systems technology or software engineering. Some employers may prefer candidates with a business background or a master's degree in a relevant field; advanced on-the-job training may also be provided. A professional software quality engineer certification, though not obligatory, is available through the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and may give job candidates an edge in the job market.
Successful software quality assurance engineers have a broad understanding of computer systems and software standards, are detail-oriented and adept at anticipating user behavior and solving problems efficiently and creatively, says the Princeton Review. Good interpersonal and communication skills are also helpful, since quality assurance engineers work closely with product managers and programmers to address software issues and fine tune products.
Employment and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a much faster than average rate of growth of 24% nationwide for software developers in general between 2016 and 2026. Experienced QA engineers often have the opportunity to move into related fields, such as information systems technology or computer systems analysis, or assume leadership positions. Others may find opportunities in freelance consulting. Salary.com reported the median salary of a QA engineer as $63,670 as of 2019.
Alternate Career Options
Check out these other options for careers in computer engineering and programming:
Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer hardware engineers work in research labs where they develop and check the usability of a variety of computer systems and parts, including circuit boards, networks, processors and routers. A bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science or electrical engineering, particularly one that has been approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), is the usual requirement for obtaining an entry-level position.
As reported by the BLS, computer hardware engineers can expect 5% or average growth in employment between 2016 and 2026. As of May 2017, a computer hardware engineer earned a median annual salary of $115,120.
Computer programmers create the codes or instructions for original software programs, so that the computer will know how to respond. An associate degree in a relevant area is the minimum academic requirement for obtaining a programming position; however, the majority of professionals have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a closely related field of study. The BLS predicts a decrease of 7% in employment prospects for computer programmers from 2016-2026. Individuals who were employed as computer programmers in May 2017 earned a median annual salary of $82,240.