Before any product is released to the end user, the product must be tested to ensure everything is working fine. The Quality Assurance Engineer (QAE) is in charge of testing and delivering an excellent final product.

About Quality Assurance

QA is not only about testing. It's a dynamic field where you should clearly understand the client's business requirements, the logic behind the code and the goal of the product and much more – which I will be discussing afterwards.

Sadly, there is no university course for you to become a QAE, at least not until July 2022. You can be a QAE if you are a team player, flexible, versatile, attentive to detail and think outside the box. Lots of training, online courses and traineeship programs are out there to kick-start your career as a QA, but not everything is covered during your learning process.

So I am trying to cover some things a QA engineer might have missed and wish they knew before starting their career.

1. QA Is NOT an Easy Job

With the IT industry growing so rapidly, I have noticed that everyone is leaving their comfort zone to switch their career path to the IT field. And it is also true that many people who switch to IT, despite their non-IT background, start in QA because they think it's the easiest. But if you practice QA perfectly, it is one of the most dynamic and tough positions one can ever think of.

A single QA engineer should combine many roles – requiring an understanding of the business goals and the development cycle. If you think QA is about only pointing out bugs and tracking them, then you know nothing about it.

A QAE is a project manager, developer, security analyst, business analyst, DevOps Engineer, data analyst and the end user. A QAE fulfils a little of every role an IT company offers, and most importantly, it's about mastering the ability to pick a proper task at the right time.

So, being a QA requires being proactive, having a constantly learning attitude, and exploring new territories.

2. Understand the Client and Business Goals

In particular, understanding users' stories and requirements makes you an excellent QA Engineer. QA is not just testing codes and finding bugs. It is about creating business value as well. When you understand the client's business need, you will be more confident in decision making, task prioritizing, and efficient in time management.

A QAE's responsibility is to prevent the wrong implementation of the product's features and to clear misconceptions or misunderstandings of the requirements.

3. Don't Neglect Your Soft Skills

As an IT professional, I work behind a computer all the time. Does it mean I should not have soft skills or try to improve them? Absolutely no.

As a QAE, I must interact and communicate with all the company's departments and clients. If a QAE cannot interact and communicate effectively, that could lead to a major issue or project failure.

Besides interaction and communication, many other soft skills are required for a QAE. For example, a QAE needs to be organized. We should have skills to adapt to different working and business environments. We should also be able to carry out meetings and make deals with the client when needed.

Soft skills do not only apply to professional life but are also effective in personal life. So, learning or developing one or two soft skills every year will make you a great team player in and out of your workspace.

4. Ask the Right Questions

Suppose you are a QA engineer in a team meeting for a new project and ask, "What are the things I should test?" This is a blunder; it could be the most stupid question a QAE could ever ask. You will obviously get a reply like, "You are the QAE. You determine what to test," which is also the fact of the matter.

Do not always seek comfort. Study the user stories and client requirements. Understand the business value, try to look into the product from the end user's point of view and narrow down the things that need to be done as a QAE.

Focus on what is important for the business and not what to test. For example, you can ask, "What makes the product unique compared to the other competitors?" or "What are the most important aspects of the product that I need to focus on?"

Wrapping up

To the new QAEs, focus on the points I have explained above. It will obviously help you become a star QAE, and with a solid team, you will surely add great value to the company you are involved in. Research as much as possible on the career you are pursuing. There are always some loopholes that we miss in the work we do.

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