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Quality Assurance Specialist

A Quality Assurance Specialist
· The specialist participates in alpha and beta test cycles of software looking for bugs or other usability problems.
· This job title sometimes refers to assembly line workers who examine and test chips, circuit boards, computers, peripheral devices.
· An effective QA specialist has a good eye for detail and a passion for perfection.

· What Is This Job Like?
· How Do You Get Ready?
· How Much Does This Job Pay?
· How Many Jobs Are There?
· What About The Future?

The information below is retrieved from

What Is This Job Like?

A software quality assurance specialist, or SQA, performs tests on computer software applications to ensure they are working effectively. A specialist is responsible for administering tests, measuring results and finding problems that occur in a system.

Product Quality Assurance Specialist. Quality Assurance Systems Associate. Software QA Analyst. SQA Engineer. Software Tester. These are just some of the job titles available in the area of QA. This is a growing field, and one that is often overlooked as a great place to begin a career in IT.

Quality Assurance (QA) is the final checkpoint for most any product, whether it be software or hardware, or something non-tech. The QA function is to "beat up" on the final product, and ensure that it is operating properly, within specifications with no unusual behavior through a series of carefully planned and documented tests.

In the discipline of application software development and web design, the QA function is the last step in the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) before a new system is released to the customers. The Software Quality Assurance (SQA) specialist or analyst will look for "bugs" in the software, and document any inconsistent behavior. The findings will be turned over to programmers to correct the problem and release back into QA for another cycle. This continues until no more defects are detected by QA, at which time the product is officially "released".

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How Do You Get Ready?

The field of QA is fairly easy to enter. A Bachelor's degree is often recommended, but not always required. Many companies prefer 1-3 years experience in software development or testing, but will accept an equivalent combination of education, training and experience. There are also QA certifications available from

Procure the necessary education to become a software quality assurance specialist. Requirements vary for working as a SQA specialist. Most companies prefer that a candidate have a bachelor's degree in computer science or major in a similar field, such as mathematics or engineering.

Complete a training program at a reputable computer institute or school. Obtain a certification in a computer programming, such as A+ certification. This is a shorter path of study some computer software specialists take, but many start out in entry-level positions.

Opt for courses in troubleshooting techniques and computer maintenance. Many of these skills are an asset to help you become an SQA specialist.

Get a training certificate and then pursue your B.A. degree while working to build experience. Study courses in networking software, Windows, Linux, C++ or C programming skills and understanding databases.

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How Much Does This Job Pay?

The salary range for an analyst in QA is highly dependent on geography. In San Jose/San Francisco, the range is $70,000-$90,000 and $50,000-$70,000 in Colorado, both with several years experience. Advancement opportunities also exist in the QA field, usually to senior analyst then team leader, eventually leading to management (will likely require a degree and significant number of years experience).
Median Salary by Years Experience - Job: Test / Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst, (Computer Software) (United States)
Median Salary by Years ExperiencePayScale Salary Calculator
Median Salary by City - Job: Test / Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst, (Computer Software) (United States)
Median Salary by CityPayScale Salary Calculator
Median Salary by Employer Type - Job: Test / Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst, (Computer Software) (United States)
Median Salary by Employer TypePayScale Salary Calculator
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How Many Jobs Are There?

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers held about 508,000 jobs in 2004. About 2 in 3 worked in manufacturing establishments that produced such products as motor vehicle parts, plastics products, semiconductor and other electronic components, and aerospace products and parts. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers also were found in employment services, architectural, engineering, and related services, wholesale trade, and government agencies.

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What About The Future?

There are many opportunities to be found in QA if you're just starting out in the IT field. The most important attributes for someone starting out in QA are not technical, but in fact more about your personality characteristics. To enjoy success in QA, you need to be very detail-oriented, have good communications skills, enjoy testing new software and finding bugs, and have good problem-solving skills.

Official job duties and responsibilities of the SQA Analyst/Specialist/Engineer are typically to ensure quality and minimize defects of internally developed software applications through the execution of manual and automated system test strategies, procedures and plans. This may include (1) white and black box testing, (2) functional, regression and performance tests, (3) analyze and verify product requirements and design specs, (4) participate in code reviews, and (5) verification of fixed bugs.

In the early days of QA testing, these tasks were all done manually in a very time-consuming process. Today, there are many automated test tools which streamline the process and make for a more efficient process. This also means that if you want to be in QA, you are going to have learn one of the "big 3" automated test environments: (1) Silk, (2) WinRunner, or (3) Rational SQA Robot (there are others, but these are the most popular). Most of these tools utilize some kind of scripting language, so if you are familiar with C/C++, Perl or Java, you will pick it up quickly. You may also be required to set up "test data" and validate results, so familiarity with SQL will also be helpful.

Quality Assurance is an exciting place to be, and a great way to get into an IT career. If you want a challenging position and opportunities to learn new software, QA may be the place for you.

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