Top Skills for Software Quality Engineering
There’s a lot to be excited about in the world of software quality, even in the middle of an unprecedented and unpredictable time. For starters, the change to digital-first in nearly every industry has put quality and the customer experience in the spotlight, raising the role of QA in the enterprise and making their expertise crucial to user-centric products. Second, the field is quickly becoming a leader in implementing and operationalizing important trends in the software industry, such as AI and machine learning as well as low-code/no-code skills.
Quality – whether as a QA engineer, test automation engineer, or testing specialist – also happens to be one of the most unusual career tracks in the IT and software industry. Termed a growing “new collar” field by technology leaders, quality roles draw a diverse range of people with a broad variety of skills, backgrounds, and knowledge. Recent research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics foretells that 316,000 new QA jobs will be generated in the coming decade, a nearly 20% increase.
So what does it take to thrive in the exciting world of software quality?
The new role of QA and QE needs understanding, managing, and communicating the needs and preferences of developers, product owners, and finally, their users. The intersectional role of quality assurance implies that everyone in the field, from brand new testers to quality managers, requires soft skills to thrive.
Quality professionals, particularly testers, want to be able to analyze a product from several distinct perspectives. Though they have an in-depth knowledge of their organization’s app or website, they require the critical thinking abilities to see it with fresh eyes and identify difficulties before they affect the user.
Quality professionals also require the ability to efficiently prioritize the requirements of multiple stakeholders. Developers will require support testing their code in the coding stage and the pull request stage of the SDLC and the production stage depending on the maturity of their testing procedure. Meanwhile, product managers will require regular updates on how products function in testing and if testing will impact the delivery schedule.
As the testing procedure of their organization grows, quality professionals will be responsible for deciding what new changes require to be made, what solutions need to be performed, and how the change will be managed. Critical thinking is a crucial skill to assuring all quality concerns are addressed in a timely manner and that a company’s quality procedure has a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
As we mentioned, quality professionals are on the front lines of promoting for the customer; assuring that the product meets their requirements and provides a seamless, delightful experience. Though the QE team plays an essential role in developing a product, they need to be able to understand the perspective of a new customer that’s navigating the app or website for the first time in order to recognize bugs that will hurt the UX.
As the quality, field emerges with new technologies like test automation, AI, and machine learning, testers and testing managers will begin implementation. This means that quality teams will complete a dual role: teaching and testing. Having high emotional intelligence and empathy will make it simpler for qualified professionals to support other teams as they adopt test automation and/or other AI and machine learning-backed solutions. As QA and QE proceed to lead the new CX as well as the adoption of AI and machine learning in the enterprise, the ability to recognize the needs of others will elevate the role of quality assurance.
Quality professionals at every level will operate closely with a broad variety of team members, often communicating crucial information like bugs and test results. As such, written and spoken communication skills are important. As tightly integrated development strategies like DevOps and CI/CD become necessary to every software development team, being able to collude with developers, product managers, and even customer support will help the entire team know what bugs the quality team is discovering, how critical those bugs are, and what features of the CX are at risk until those bugs are fixed. For features or products still in development, being able to communicate testing progress and the result is a must.
Efficient communication skills also lay the foundation for the developing role of quality engineering in the company. As quality professionals take on leadership roles in improving the CX, performing new technologies like AI and machine learning, and adopting DevOps, being able to support best practices not just for an individual career, but for having an organization ahead of the competition.
In addition to soft skills that create a strong quality engineering resume, testers and quality managers need technical skills that allow them to act with development teams, build tests, and adjust to the digital workplace. Based on data from ZipRecruiter, which examined millions of software quality job postings and resumes, these are the hard skills that matter the most.
Clocking in as the top keyword for software quality applicants, Jira is a necessary tool for quality engineering. The universal tool among software development teams for issue and project management is important for quality professionals at all career levels, primarily if they’re interested in working in a DevOps environment. With knowledge in Jira, QA and QE professionals are able to intimately collaborate with developers to flag, track, and manage bugs well before they affect users. By acquiring skills in Jira, quality teams are better able to highlight the important issues they address, better positioning them to lead CX improvements and other essential initiatives.
Jira proficiency is another section of the quality engineering puzzle, and quality professionals that can demonstrate competency with the solutions are in a powerful position to lead the transformation to fully integrated quality engineering in a DevOps world.
Another top skill for quality engineer aspirants, test automation has become an essential feature of quality management. As deployment frequency rises from quarterly or monthly to weekly and even daily, testers require solutions that allow them to automate routine tests and allow to concentrate on high-impact manual testing and improve overall quality strategy.
Experience in test automation also provides quality professionals to navigate the rapidly growing field of test automation tools and select solutions that not only decrease the burden of testing, but help the shift to DevOps, democratize test automation, and encourage greater collaboration across the SDLC. With expertise in this emerging area, quality professionals are well-positioned to perform a leadership role on their QA team and across their organization.
As DevOps and CI/CD become mainstream, it’s no shock that regression testing has appeared as a top skill for quality professionals in 2021. As new features are continuously added or added quickly to keep a competitive advantage (see Twitter rolling out Spaces as Clubhouse surged in popularity), regression testing is a crucial part of quality management.
Regression testing also touches test automation, as many cases can be automated to decrease the burden on a QA/QE team. By mixing the two skills, quality professionals can optimize manual and automated regression testing to assure that users, no matter how creative in their consumer journey, have a seamless experience over the app or website. With the right test automation solution, expertise in manual testing approaches is enhanced and made more impactful, so a solid background in regression testing is an essential skill for anyone looking to rise the career ladder in quality engineering.
A Bright Future for Testing Careers
Growing demand and a growing number of certification options are getting it easier than ever to create a career in the exciting world of software testing. The combination of hard and soft skills implies that people from all walks of life are able to create their own unique paths through this field, making an impression on the way people encounter their favorite apps and websites every day.
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