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What Is a QA Engineer and What Do They Do?

There’s quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to defining the role and responsibilities of a software quality engineer (SQA). It’s easy to get confused since there are multiple related titles used interchangeably within the industry. Today we’ll cover the main responsibilities, and will also talk about how SQA can be different from, say, SDET or a QA/QC Engineer.

What Is a QA Engineer?

On a high level, a quality engineer is responsible for overseeing the quality management system for a software project, and tests the software project to ensure it functions as per requirements – before releasing to the end-users.

In terms of the quality management system, the quality engineer is often tasked with monitoring all phases of the software development process, creating and owning the quality standards used for testing the software for reliability, performance, and efficiency.

In terms of testing, quality engineers typically own the tasks of planning, writing, and executing both functional and non-functional test cases for sprints or iterations, and releases.

There are many titles in the QA industry, however, there are no strict role definitions based on the title. Some of the most commonly used titles in the QA space include: QA analyst, QA tester, Manual Tester, SQA, Quality Engineer, Automation Engineer, and SDET(Software Development Engineer in Test).

Typically, the word “Engineer” in the title would imply at least partial involvement in test automation, although this is not mandatory. For example, there are purely manual testing QA Engineer positions. Thus, it’s most important to look at the job description rather than the title when looking for a QA role.

What Skills are Required for Quality Engineers?

In general, quality engineers typically need strong critical thinking skills, in addition to a high level of attention to detail, mathematical and numerical skills, communication skills, time management skills, and the ability to work well within a team.

Oftentimes, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field is preferred or even required by the employer. Another option can be a certification – like the ASQ quality engineer certification.

In terms of technical skills, they can vary based on the technology used for the software project, like mobile web vs. native desktop application, for example. Hybrid and automation engineers typically need to know a programming language along with the knowledge of multiple frameworks to build tests with.

Regardless of seniority level, or a level of involvement in automation – the more QA person knows about the computer systems and the underlying code structure, the better. Such knowledge helps tremendously in day-to-day activities, both for writing high-quality test cases (that would test for the right things), and for finding software defects.

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

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How is QA Different From QC?

If you’re finding yourself wondering what the difference is between quality assurance and quality control, you can be rest assured that you’re not alone. A lot of teams end up wondering this at one point or another.

Both quality assurance and quality control are a part of quality management, but quality assurance typically covers the entirety of the quality control systems, whereas quality control usually represents a subset of quality assurance. Still confused? QA focuses on the whole process, start-to-finish: “How do we prevent software bugs from happening?”, vs. QC focuses on the testing part “How do we find all of the bugs so they won’t escape to the end-users?”

Manual Quality Assurance vs. Automated Quality Assurance

These days, software teams around the world are placing an ever-growing emphasis on automation, and quality assurance is no exception.

While a lot of teams are still doing manual quality assurance, more and more are turning to automated quality assurance to reap the benefits of a more streamlined, effective process.

The reasons for the trend towards automation in the quality assurance discipline are many, but it all starts with efficiency gains. By automating the quality assurance testing process, the software team is able to spend less time on tedious and very repetitive testing, and more time improving test coverage and test quality. In other words, spending more time on QC allows for more time spent on the whole development process, start-to-finish. Software project leaders find test automation attractive because it allows the project to scale better as it grows over time, since manual testing becomes cumbersome very quickly at scale due to labor intensive processes, whereas automated processes require less overhead to maintain at scale.

How testRigor Takes Quality Assurance Automation to the Next Level

testRigor is playing a key role in improving the quality assurance process. With its artificial intelligence-driven platform, testRigor is able to further automate the process of writing and maintaining automated tests, pushing quality assurance further into the realm of automation.

For example, testRigor is able to study real user behavior to learn about how users are engaging with the software in the production environment, and use these learnings to adapt and improve automated test coverage and quality.

Furthermore, testRigor allows teams to write and maintain automated tests in plain English, with the testRigor platform understanding how to apply these tests at the code level. Since the tests always trace back to their English description, they tend to stay stable in spite of code changes in the software project compared to tests that rely on specific implementation details, such as CSS Selectors or XPaths.

If you’d like to learn more about how testRigor can help automate the software quality assurance process in your software project, don’t be shy – our team is always happy to hear from people like you, and we’ll be glad to help out in any way that we can.