What Does a QA Analyst Do? Testing Out This Tech Career
You’ve heard of the rise in tech jobs lately, and you want in. Employment of professionals in computer and IT roles is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to increase by 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, and their annual median salary—$88,240—is substantially higher than the median annual wage of all occupations, $39,810.1
Strong job growth, decent earning potential and your natural talent with tech make this field an obvious career choice. But with so many technology job titles to consider, you aren’t sure which role is the best fit for you.
We’re here to highlight a job title you may have seen but might not know much about: quality assurance analyst, sometimes called a QA analyst or QA tester.
If you love focusing on details, working with brand-new technology and solving problems, this job title just might have your name on it. But first, you need all the details about the job, like the QA analyst job description and salary. Read on to learn more about what this tech career has to offer!
What does a QA analyst do?
QA stands for quality assurance, which gives you a pretty big hint about the job duties that come with this career. QA analysts work to ensure high-quality, standard products in all sorts of industries, from food to medical devices. In the tech world, QA analysts typically focus their work on software testing.
“QA analysts are the specialists that assess the functionality of software and look for any bugs and issues,” says Vladlen Shulepov, CEO at mobile and web development company Riseapps.
Quality assurance is a stage that occurs many times in the software engineering process to ensure that the final product is free of errors. “The most common duty of a QA analyst would include running the code to see if it works correctly and is usable on various devices,” Shulepov says.
Any problems are then thoroughly documented and reported back to the development team to be fixed. This cycle is repeated until the product is ready for the end user. Other aspects of the quality assurance job description include developing testing procedures, maintaining databases of known defects, monitoring bug resolutions and providing feedback on overall functionality and usability.
Where do QA analysts work?
Tech companies that develop apps and other software have an obvious need for QA analysts, but they’re not the only industry making use of these detail-oriented professionals. We consulted data from Burning-Glass.com to find the top ten industries hiring for QA analysts:2
- Computer systems design services
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services
- Software publishers
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
- Depository credit intermediation
- Insurance carriers
- Architectural and engineering services
- Scientific research and development services
Do some of these industries come as a surprise? Software is essentially just a tool, and those tools can be used in a huge variety of contexts. Quality assurance is needed in any field that uses software—which is just about all of them! That’s good news for aspiring QA analysts, who may have the opportunity to tailor their career toward fields that interest them.
What qualities do the best QA analysts possess?
“Attention to detail and excellent problem-solving skills are very important for any QA analyst,” Shulepov says. Without a sharp eye for detail, quality assurance workers could miss errors that lead to issues with the final products.
That’s not the only quality that comes in handy in this career. Take a look at the data from Burning-Glass.com for the top transferable skills employers want to see in their QA analysts.
Top transferable skills for QA analysts2
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
Maybe you already recognize your own natural skillset in the list above. That’s a sign you could do well in this career field! However, some specific technical skills are also requirements for this position. “Domain knowledge and understanding of different technologies, frameworks, and libraries make a true quality assurance expert,” Shulepov says.
Pair those soft skills with these in-demand technical skills to check all the boxes of qualities that quality assurance pros need to possess.
Top technical skills and tools for QA analysts2
- Quality assurance and control
- Software development
- Software testing
- Atlassian JIRA®
- Automated testing
- Scrum (project management strategy)
How much do QA analysts make?
Of course, the average QA analyst salary is going to be an important factor for you. No one wants to enter a career field that won’t support them financially.
You’ll be glad to hear that QA analysts have strong earning potential. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2019, the median annual salary for QA analysts was $88,550.1 With a faster than average projected job growth through 2028, this role is fairly well positioned for the future. Additionally, it’s fairly common for skilled QA analysts to branch out into other aspects of software development or web development, which can help broaden their potential career opportunities.
How do you become a QA analyst?
You have a pretty good idea about what it means to be a QA analyst. Now you need to know how to become one!
Shulepov shares that it’s possible to enter this career by teaching yourself the necessary skills, but that route can come with considerable challenges. “It won’t be as easy to find a job afterward, unless the candidate is very determined.”
The data from Burning-Glass.com agrees. Our analysis of 78,944 QA job postings reveals that 81 percent of job postings were seeking candidates with a bachelor’s degree.3
But what kind of degree do you need to become a QA analyst? For those looking to go specifically into software testing, a degree in Computer Science can lead to a rewarding career as a QA analyst. A Computer Science degree program can help equip you with the skills needed to understand the fundamentals of software development while also building the competencies needed to effectively navigate a collaborative development environment.
Analyze your potential for this career
Now you know the basics of this career, from the quality assurance job description to the QA analyst salary and everything in between.
You’ve analyzed your compatibility with this career. If the results show that you have the makings of a QA analyst, your next step is to learn more about the education you’ll need to get started. Find out how a degree in Computer Science can prepare you for a quality assurance career!
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics [accessed July, 2020]. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 141,312 QA analyst job postings, Jun. 01–May 31, 2020).
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 78,944 QA analyst job postings by education level, Jun. 01, 2019–May 31, 2020).