A role that’s tailor-made for detail-oriented problem solvers, quality assurance (QA) can be found across a range of industries. From healthcare to video game design, QAs make sure all manner of products and services are analysed, tested and optimised before going to market. For the tech-obsessed person who loves putting problems under the microscope, technical QA analysis is all about uncovering the most minute details to improve the bigger picture.
If you’re looking to make the move into this area of work, we’ve got some hints and tips to help you take the next step into your quality assurance journey.
– What is a QA Analyst?
– QA Analyst technical skills
– QA Analyst training and qualifications
– What makes a good QA Analyst?
– QA Analyst job description
– QA Analyst salaries
– QA Analyst interview questions
– Career paths in QA
– QA Tester vs Analyst vs Engineer
Involved from the start of the software development lifecycle, a technical QA analyst plays an important part in its process. When a concept or requirement is being designed, technical QA analysts work with other departmental experts, from solutions architects and developers to business analysts, to ensure that testability is baked in from the very start. Put simply, they assess the functionality of software to look for any bugs and issues.
As the foundations for quality delivery are laid, tests, checks and monitors are put in place. Through working with developers to ensure each component is effectively tested all the way through the testing pyramid, technical QA analysts are able to help separate components and ensure systems integrate together.
And even as products launch, the technical QA analyst’s role doesn’t end. They are responsible for ensuring changes and modifications can be made quickly and effectively without compromising the stability of the product for the users.
No matter what stage of the software development lifecycle they’re at, QA analysts will then have to document and report their findings, so that the development team can begin fixing them.
A technical QA analyst will be naturally inquisitive, a tech-detective well-versed in asking probing questions. Priding themselves on their ability to examine issues from all angles, they get to the root of the issue through their substantial questioning skills.
Programming skills are also a plus, but they aren’t entirely necessary. Although understanding how software is built can help with finding bugs and a coding ability aids with automation testing, it’s still possible to become a skilled analyst without being a programmer. If you’ve ever found a bug in one of the apps or services you use every day, then you’re certain to be the right fit for a role like this.
Software testers themselves will need sound communication skills, knowledge of functional automation and scripting, web technologies and agile methodologies.
While it’s not essential, a degree in a technical subject such as computer science, engineering or anything demonstrating coding capability is extremely advantageous.
Additionally, a basic knowledge of the QA sphere would be necessary too. There are plenty of software testing courses for beginners that provide a strong head start with the sector, allowing you to brush up on the basics and strengthen your resume by becoming a certified tester upon completion of the course.
Two reputable courses which may be worth investigating are:
– International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) – considered one of the most successful and widely-known certifying schemes in the world.
– Rapid Software Testing (RST) – a scheme created to teach a variety of testing software skills, though it’s used mostly by experienced testers. That said, it’s important to keep learning and improving. As you build up skills and experience, sharpening your know-how with further courses like these is highly recommended.
Sometimes considered by those involved in QA testing to be more important than technical prowess, soft skills are a key aspect of the role that nobody breaking into the sector should be without.
Since the role can be a relatively broad one, strong QA testers should be confident, effective communicators. One minute they can be discussing the design of a testing harness or a stub for performance modelling, while the next they may be walking a business user through functional demonstrations prior to deployment as clearly as they can.
Additionally, ideal candidates will be adaptable and dedicated, with a strong work ethic. During QA testing, time is of the essence. If a product is set to be released with only hours to go and a flaw has been detected, then the quality assurance team has to ensure that every bug has been unearthed, communicated to the right team, and re-checked once more after it’s been corrected. For those who can work under pressure at a fast pace, it’s a role very much suited to those used to thriving in a busy environment.
Generally, a QA Analyst job description will feature the follow duties and responsibilities:
– Designing and implementing testing plans for products
– Identifying procedures and scenarios for the quality control of products and services
– Processing product reviews, informing the development team of defects and errors where necessary
– Communicating both quantitative and qualitative findings from test results to the development team
– Monitoring efforts to resolve product issues and track progress
– Ensuring that the final product fully satisfies both product requirements and end-user expectations
– Identifying areas for improvement to enhance product efficiency
– Carrying out market research for similar products and comparing results
According to Talent.com, the average salary of a QA analyst comes in around £37,500 per year. Those just starting out in the role can expect entry level positions to pay around £30,000, while experienced QA Analysts can garner an annual salary of around £51,875.
If you’ve been asked to meet with your potential employers, then the next step is preparing for your upcoming interview. It’s vital that you research what the new role entails, as well as the responsibilities you will be expected to assume. For every task in the new role, identify a time you have performed a similar task to a high standard in your current or a previous position. This will prepare you for any task-specific questions that come your way, including the below:
– What is the difference between negative and positive testing?
– Can you explain the difference between priority and severity?
– Can you tell me about some of the different types of software testing?
– How would you manage a testing problem?
– What is the significance of agile testing?
– Could you explain the differences between stress testing, volume testing and load testing?
You’ll also be asked more general QA interview questions, such as:
– How has your educational background prepared you for QA work?
– What software have you carried out QA on in the past?
– What’s the difference between QA and software testing?
– How would you describe your abilities as a QA?
If you are interviewing for a more senior role than the one you currently occupy, be sure to identify a number of occasions you went above and beyond your current level of responsibility. This can help convince your interviewer that you are ready to make the step up.
Personality traits like creativity, communication skills and problem-solving will have a chance to be illustrated too. If you impress here, they’re unlikely to go unnoticed by the interviewer. You’ll probably be competing with those at a similar level, so your approach and attitude during the interview can really be the difference maker.
For those working in quality assurance as an analyst, there is plenty of room for progression. After gaining experience as an analyst, you may move up into the role of Senior Specialist, which tends to see you become a subject matter expert in a specific area.
From here, you could then become a QA Auditor, a role that involves ensuring that both internal and external departments are meeting regulations. Management roles, such as QA Systems Manager, QA Operations Manager and QA Compliance Manager, provide further avenues for progression into more senior areas. At the higher end of the QA hierarchy, Head of Quality, Head of Auditing and finally VP of Quality offer the most senior roles for those looking to progress even further.
In your researching of QA Analyst roles, you may have come across openings for QA Testers and QA Engineers and assumed these are different terms for the same thing. However, each of these differ in their own way, which we’ll explore in more detail below.
QA Testers test a piece of software or an app, note down the bugs and move onto their next task. A QA Analyst would carry out the same tasks, but things wouldn’t end once they’d made a note of the issues they’ve found. Instead, a QA Analyst delves deeper into the process, figuring out how the software or app feels. How does it behave? Is it user-friendly and intuitive or complex and off-putting? Does it, ultimately, make sense?
The Analyst will then create a report that notes down their findings, along with any ways the product could be improved. This report is then passed onto the relevant team, who then tinkers with the product after taking into consideration the Analyst’s suggestions. The result is a product that’s more streamlined and user-friendly than its original build.
A rule of thumb when it comes to QA Engineers: all QA Engineers can be referred to as QA Analysts, but not the other way around. This is because QA Engineers have a background in quality assurance, engineering and computer science. As a result of their background, the engineer can see several steps ahead, making sure that future mistakes are addressed at an early stage. In fact, their knowledge of technical issues means that QA engineers can assess certain risks before an app’s development even begins.
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