SQA Engineer Job Description
SQA engineers, or software quality assurance engineers, evaluate and test software to ensure it meets the specifications and standards established by the software development company or the client, and that it's delivered on time. They typically work a standard 40-hour week during traditional business hours, but may work overtime or on nights and weekends if they have a deadline coming up. Formal training and previous experience are musts for this highly technical role, which is ideal for anyone who has strong analytical skills, likes paying attention to detail, and enjoys thinking long term.
SQA Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
An SQA engineer's role may differ slightly based on the size of the organization and whether they work for a software development company or on behalf of clients. However, there are several core tasks common to all SQA engineering jobs:
Write Test Plans
Evaluating a piece of software is a complex process that involves detailed and thorough testing. As experts in metrics, measurement, and evaluation, SQA engineers coordinate this entire process and write comprehensive test plans designed to assess every facet of a software product.
An SQA engineer's primary focus is finding potential defects that could compromise the software's functionality or its ability to meet the specifications outlined by the company or by the company's client.
SQA engineers not only look for defects in software, they also help devise ways to fix these bugs to ensure the software works properly. This requires working closely with the development team to remedy problems and write new code if needed.
Meet with Clients
When SQA engineers work on behalf of clients, they meet with them during the planning and testing phases to determine what they want from the software and whether the finished product meets their expectations.
Manage Team Members
At some organizations, SQA engineers lead the quality assurance team, which means they also give instructions and guidance to junior members of the group and may also assign them tasks.
SQA Engineer Skills and Qualifications
SQA engineers have a deep appreciation for technology and the ability to work independently while still collaborating with the rest of the software development team. Employers typically seek candidates with at least one to two years of relevant experience and the following skills:
- Coding and programming knowledge – while SQA engineers may not write code, they need to understand how coding and programming languages work so they can more effectively test the software created with them
- Testing experience – this is an advanced role requiring in-depth knowledge of the most effective ways to evaluate software. SQA engineers need extensive testing experience and knowledge of a wide range of testing protocols
- Metrics expertise – testing software requires precision, which is why SQA engineers must know how to use metrics and measurement tools to create objective and quantifiable data and results
- Organization and time management – because they coordinate the development and evaluation process from start to finish, SQA engineers need a knack for organizing multiple project elements and keeping the entire team on track
- Communication skills – SQA engineers write detailed reports for every piece of software they test; they also communicate verbally with clients and other team members
Tools of the Trade
SQA engineers rely on technology for their day-to-day tasks and regularly use the following tools:
- Operating systems (Windows, Linux)
- Programming languages (Python, HTML, Java, CSS)
- API testing tools
SQA Engineer Education and Training
SQA engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer or engineering field, such as computer science, software development, computer engineering, or electrical engineering, though some employers prefer applicants with master's degree. Candidates can gain an advantage by completing related internships during college.
SQA Engineer Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that software development professionals like SQA engineers earn a median annual salary just over $100,000. For those in the top 10 percent, the annual salary can reach $160,000 or more, while those in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $60,000.
The BLS expects employment opportunities for software developers like SQA engineers to increase 24 percent through 2026, which is a significantly faster rate of growth than for other occupations. This fast-paced growth is due to the ever-increasing demand for computer software and phone and tablet apps, for both consumers and for use by businesses.
Getting started as an SQA engineer takes not only formal study, but also plenty of research. Fortunately, we've rounded up some of the best resources from around the web to help you learn more about this growing field and gain the skills needed to land your dream job:
American Society for Quality – this professional association is open to quality assurance professionals in a wide range of industries. It offers software quality engineer certification to candidates with several years of full-time, paid experience in this role
Society of Quality Assurance – designed for quality assurance professionals of all backgrounds and from all disciplines, SQA offers mentoring and online education. It also hosts an annual meeting
Association for Software Testing – this organization for software testing professionals offers training and hosts an annual conference, in addition to providing grants for events and programs. Members can learn more about industry best practices through the association's blog and videos
The Certified Software Quality Engineer Handbook – this comprehensive guide prepares software professionals for the ASQ Certified Software Quality Engineer exam. It’s also ideal for use as a resource on the job
Becoming a Quality Assurance Engineer – learn everything you need to get started as an SQA engineer, including what kind of training you need, what the job entails, and how to launch your job search