Quality assurance (QA) positions exist in a range of industries, from manufacturing to software and more. Since it is such a broad field, we’ll focus here on QA as it applies to technology and software.
The two main careers within this subset of the field are quality assurance engineers and managers. Both are reasonably lucrative positions.
Whenever a company sells a product or service, they need to make sure it meets legal safety requirements, industry standards, and customers’ expectations. After all, distributing defective or subpar merchandise is a quick and foolproof way to go out of business.
Quality assurance engineers and managers exist to prevent this from happening by monitoring product function and work processes.
In software, QA engineers are responsible for monitoring the development and testing of products through each phase of production. They should not be confused with software testers — testing is only one piece of the development process. But engineers are involved in it from start to finish.
Design quality, product efficiency, and company requirements are some of the things QA engineers work to improve. To this end, they write testing plans, analyze results, find bugs, create reports for QA managers, and more.
Whereas engineers work to ensure that products and software meet specified requirements during the production phase, QA managers are the ones that develop those requirements.
They also manage the QA engineers, monitor customer feedback to make sure that the company requirements match client expectations, and facilitate communication between the product development offices and the corporate offices of their company.
You’ll need different skills depending on whether you’re more interested in QA engineering or management, but there are a few skills that overlap. Both positions require leadership ability and strong communication since they both involve the supervision of other employees. They also require familiarity with the design and function of the product/software itself.
Engineers should ideally have a skill set including these:
- Analytical and problem-solving abilities
- Risk analysis documentation
- Product and product feature research
- Developing/using new technologies and tools for testing
- Understanding of software development phases
Managers should have these:
- Excellent organizational ability
- Big-picture problem-solving skills
- Ability to manage large teams
- Knowledge of both product development and corporate practice
- Ability to translate technical language into simpler explanations
- Planning skills
Make sure to check the specific skill requirements of the company you want to work for since every position has different needs.
Education & Requirements
College degrees are typically required for QA positions. They don’t always have to be directly connected to QA, but having one in a related field like business management or production engineering will make you a more attractive candidate.
A background in technical work will help you as well, especially if you’re looking for a QA engineer position. QA managers will need previous management experience; they often start out as quality inspectors and work their way up. Some positions require special licenses or certifications as well.
Quality assurance is not a one-size-fits-all kind of field, so try to narrow your focus as much as possible before pursuing the education and experience you’ll need to move into your chosen subset of the QA field.