SQA Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an SQA engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Software quality assurance engineers work with software developers to improve software products during development. They run tests on software or applications and analyze defects in order to improve products. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in a related subject.

Essential Information

Software quality assurance (SQA) engineers monitor, analyze and test software during development in order to ensure quality. Engineers may hold an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in software engineering, computer engineering or information systems. Certifications pertaining to the industry or specific software vendors may enhance career prospects.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in computer engineering or programming, information technology or a similar field
Other Requirements Industry or vendor certifications may provide additional career opportunities
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% for all software developers
Mean Salary (2015)* $108,760 for systems software developers; $102,160 for applications software developers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for an SQA Engineer

SQA engineers use their program coding and testing skills to help software developers enhance product performance. Engineers typically work for software companies, equipment manufacturers and wholesalers, among other industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of software developers, the broader category that includes SQA engineers, was expected to increase by 17% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also noted that as recently as May 2015 software developers working on applications earned an average annual salary of $102,160, while those working on systems software earned an average of $108,760.

Duties for an SQA Engineer

SQA engineers use test automation software programs which set up test trials and preconditions to examine product functionality, content and user friendliness. Engineers then simulate product performance, evaluate results and compare those results with predicted outcomes. Once the automation process is complete, these professionals identify and document product problems or defects using bug tracking systems.

For some applications, engineers might create databases of known defects in order to develop protocol for repeat problems. Finally, these professionals might analyze defects and may either send the product back to developers for modification or may hone the product themselves.

Aside from product testing, SQA engineers may also review product requirements and specifications in order to foresee potential issues, provide input of functional requirements and advise on design. Other duties include making suggestions to improve testing strategies, as well as utilizing databases to create reports and presentations on any defects.

Requirements for an SQA Engineer

Prospective candidates may consider an associate's or bachelor's degree program in computer engineering, computer programming or information technology. Associate's degree programs typically last two years and include a general education in social sciences and English, as well as computer programming, digital electronic design and microprocessor design courses. Bachelor's degree programs generally include general education courses and cover advanced topics, such as circuit theory, software engineering and signals and systems design.

Students may also consider master's degree programs in computer engineering. These programs typically last 1-2 years and include courses in SQA testing, data modeling and software verification.

Although not required, voluntary industry or vendor certifications may improve employment and advancement opportunities. The Computing Technology Industry Association and vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco offer certifications that can highlight a candidate's proficiency in operating systems, hardware and computer programming languages.

SQA engineers work to test, analyze and improve product performance during development of software or applications. They work with engineers and may advise on the design of products. A bachelor's degree is typically a requirement, and associate's and master's degree programs and certification options also exist.

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