You’ve heard of the rise in tech jobs lately, and you want in. There are so many to choose from though, and while some may sound perfect, you never know what would be a good fit until you do more research.
If you love detail, technology and solving problems, we might have the perfect job for you—quality assurance (QA) analyst. In the broadest terms, quality assurance analysts are found in a variety of industries, from healthcare to video games to food—they’re the people responsible for testing products and ensuring they’re up to par. However, for you tech-savvy individuals, we’ll focus on one of the most in-demand QA positions: software QA tester and analyst.
We already know your next questions: What is a QA analyst? What does a QA analyst do? It’s good to cover the facts of a profession before jumping into anything, so we’ve connected with real QA experts to test out this career and tell you everything you need to know about jobs in software quality assurance.
What does a QA analyst do?
Finding a career you love is important, but it’s not the only deciding factor. You’ll first want to have a good understanding of the daily responsibilities of professionals in the field. Knowing the job duties and necessary skills will give you a better idea if it’s a career you’ll love long-term.
At the very root of what they do, QA analysts are testers and problem solvers. Job duties include testing websites or software for problems, documenting any issues and ensuring errors are corrected. They are a crucial component to any software development process.
“We explore, and as we explore, we break,” says Denis Yumerov, software QA analyst at VIP Spades. “As a QA analyst, you are going to break software and break it a lot—and you will be happy about it.”
Yumerov says that QA analysts are the first in line to encounter any bugs that may crash the software or cause a bad user experience. Then, they are tasked with methodically reporting the problems to the developers and programmers who created the program.
Once those bugs are fixed, QA analysts get to go back into the program and test it out all over again, trying to find any vulnerability that users may encounter. Once the QA analyst—or team of analysts—gives their stamp of approval, the program is considered acceptable for release to the public. It’s a rigorous process, but QA analysts are up for the challenge. After all, how many jobs pay you to try and break things?
What education do QA analysts need?
Now that you know what the general duties of a software quality assurance analyst are, you may be wondering how you can become one.
We used real-time data analysis software to look at more than 85,000 software quality assurance engineer and tester jobs.1 Of these job postings, 85 percent are seeking those with at least a Bachelor’s degree, with four percent looking for an Associate’s degree.
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. With a degree in Computer Science, you will learn how software works, so that you can then go on to test its limits.
In addition to education, most QA analyst positions will require previous experience in software development—our analysis of these job postings show 78 percent of all QA positions preferring at least three or more years of experience.1
What skills are needed to be a QA analyst?
It’s always good to think ahead and see what skills employers are looking for in QA analyst candidates. To help with that, we used our job analysis software to find the most in-demand skills employers are seeking in software quality assurance engineers and testers.1
Here’s what we found:
- Software development
- Software testing
- Project management
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t yet honed all of the abilities listed above. You won’t be expected to master all these without the proper training. Getting the right education will help you gain the skills and experience you need to break into the field.
Are QA analysts happy?
In 2014, a survey ranked QA analysts as being the second-happiest people in the workforce. It is important to choose a career that’s not only secure and stable, but that is enjoyable too. So have things changed since 2014? Are QA analysts still happy?
Unfortunately, happiness is hard to measure—you probably don’t clock in to work and give a happiness rating every day. That said, it’s fair to say that QA analyst salaries may be an important factor in job satisfaction. In 2016, the median annual salary for QA analysts was $86,510, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 Organizations pay well for quality QA analysts and offer competitive benefits to attract and retain them.
“If it’s a good company, you’re treated a bit like a freelancer and get to set some of your own hours,” says Todd Millecam, CEO of SWYM Systems Inc.
But money and fringe benefits aren’t the only pathway to happiness. Quality assurance analysts are happy because they simply love doing what they do.
“I am a QA analyst, and I am happy with my job,” Yumerov says. “I love exploring how the software works and how it breaks. I am happy as I know that thousands of people will play our games and will have a perfect player experience because of me.”
Launch a career you love
Now that you know what QA analysts do, it’s time to reflect on whether this is the career path for you. The daily responsibilities will vary from job to job, but if you’ve got an eye for detail and want to test out software, this may be the field for you.
If you’re sold on becoming a QA analyst, or simply want to learn more about the education you need, check out how a degree in Computer Science can prepare you for this exciting position.
1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 85,126 software quality assurance engineers and tester jobs, November 1, 2016 – October 31, 2017).
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in March 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2017.