Software quality assurance professionals typically need to have a solid educational background in software engineering. Most of these professionals need at least a four-year bachelor's degree in the field, for which a high school diploma or GED is required, and sometimes are required to have additional experience in information-assurance testing. Students who complete these programs in software engineering could also go on to work as software designers, programmers and engineers. A two-year master's degree in this field, for which a bachelor's is required, is also available.
Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
These four-year programs, available in in computing and software systems or software engineering, can prepare graduates to find, recreate and fix errors in hidden in lines of software code. Because software is at the heart of all modern technology, some programs allow students to specialize in topics like bioinformatics, information security or e-commerce systems.
In order to collaborate on projects where the ultimate goals include meeting design specifications, information security levels and customer requirements, students can learn about ethics, communication and analysis methods. Coursework commonly includes:
- Data structures
- Management principles
- Operating systems
- Technical writing
Master of Science in Software Engineering
Students in these two-year programs - sometimes with a concentration in software systems engineering or software development - can learn to juggle functionality issues like security, performance and modifiability. Thesis, project and online options are all available.
Applicants are typically required to hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, like computer science, information technology, computer engineering or software engineering. Admission seekers from a non-computer science field may be admitted, but would be required to have a background in relevant subjects, like operating systems, discreet math and algorithm design.
Graduate level training includes work applicable to modeling software systems and designing interactions between humans and computers. Students can learn about:
- System specifications
- Software testing
- Software development
- Software artifact analysis
- Engineering processes
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 1,365,500 computer software developers and 250,300 computer programmers employed as of 2018 (www.bls.gov). Among these, bachelor's degree program graduates found work as:
- Database analysts
- Software developers
- Systems analysts
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, concerns over Internet security and increased use of new technologies were projected to contribute to rapid growth in the software engineering field. From 2018-2028, the BLS projected a growth in job opportunities for software developers of 21%. Over the same time period, computer systems analyst job growth was expected to increase by 9%.
As stated by the BLS May 2018 records, the median annual salary for those computer software developers who work in applications was $103,620. Computer systems analysts made a median annual salary of $88,740.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) administrates a Software Quality Engineer (SQE) certification program. Candidates must have at least eight years of professional experience - including at least three years in a decision-making post - if no relevant degree has been earned. After eligibility has been proven, candidates are able to sit for a multiple-choice, four-hour certification examination.
The ASQ requires recertification for SQEs to occur every three years. Candidates are eligible to recertify by documenting a certain amount of continuing education credits or by retaking the certification exam.
Doctor of Philosophy programs in software engineering prepare graduates for careers as computer science professors, researchers and information technology consultants. Training at this level includes options in machine learning, data mining and user interface design.
Students interested in a career in software quality assurance should get either a bachelor's or master's in software engineering in order to stay competitive in the field. Graduates can expect to find jobs as database analysts, programmers, and other related careers.