Main image of article 4 Key Skills of QA Engineers

As a QA engineer, you know you’re doing well when your work goes unnoticed. It’s your job to make sure everything is correct and operating as expected, so that users don’t encounter issues with your site or products. You’re responsible for testing and finding problems before they become problems.

For effective QA engineering, the most important qualities you’ll need are attention to detail, the ability to communicate quickly and clearly with your team, and the knack to learn new things on the fly. You keep the wheels turning and the customers smiling by staying on top of the many moving parts that result in websites and products.

Generally, a QA engineer is expected to test for issues, create cases to track bugs, and manage the overall quality of the feature or product. This means you must have:

  • Solid knowledge of how the software works.
  • How defects are being tracked and managed.
  • How to report back effectively on progress.

In certain roles, you might also be expected to automate parts of the testing workflow. This can involve using simulators to mimic user clicks, or scripting test cases to call APIs and dive into the database. The details really depend on the specific needs of the role. Let’s get a little bit more granular about the needs of the role:

Bug Tracking and Database Management

  • QA engineers meticulously manage bug databases, logging and prioritizing bugs based on severity and potential user impact.

  • Shipping with bugs is a strategic decision, made only after careful risk assessment and mitigation strategies. Make the right choice, and you can quietly squish bugs following the release; but make the wrong one, and your users will revolt—just witness the number of players who get really, really angry when a buggy game is released.

System Specifications Monitoring

  • QA engineers need a deep understanding of system specifications, including realistic use-case analysis and proactive problem identification.

  • They must also anticipate real-world scenarios and ensure flawless system function under various conditions.

Mastery of Bug Tracking and Management Tools

Excellent QA engineers have a grasp on at least some of the following tools. Here are a few effective and popular bug trackers:

Meanwhile, here are some test management tools:

Understanding the latest tools and selecting those that best suit a specific project is crucial for success. A QA engineer knows how to define the specific functionality or testing challenge before actually using the tool, and then defines success criteria. Based on the testing data, they can then make decisions about next steps, including adjusting their own workflow.

Knowing Your Programming Languages

To effectively evaluate complex pieces of software, QA engineers must be proficient in at least one programming language. Here are some commonly used languages for UI automation:

  • Java: Object-oriented language widely used for web application testing frameworks like Selenium.
  • Python: Popular high-level language known for its readability and extensive testing libraries like Pytest.
  • C#: Object-oriented language well-suited for .NET development and frameworks like Selenium WebDriver.
  • Ruby: Scripting language known for its developer-friendly syntax and frameworks like Ruby on Rails for web testing.

As a QA engineer, you’ll always have a lot to learn on the job. By definition, QA engineers are working with new software all the time, so a learning curve is perpetually present. In most roles, experience with the software lifecycle and testing principles will take you further than knowledge of specific tools. That means it’s more important that you be an expert in the foundations of QA than in the trendiest tools. And, of course, a good attitude, customer focus and great communication skills always help.