Modern corporations and companies rely more and more on their computing systems. They need to ask them questions and receive answers and data fast. Which means that not only the computers must be working but also the networks, the databases, the cables, the entire infrastructure must also always be up and running. Any break down in this system may result in loss of business and loss of clientele which is unacceptable in today’s standards of high competition.
A system administrator actually makes sure that the IT structure exists and is available to everyone on demand. A computer technician makes sure that the hardware works all along the line. A quality assurance specialist is responsible for taking the entire package to the next level.
IT QA Job Description
The job description is best shown by the list of responsibilities:
- The applications used must be tested. It’s the specialist’s job to design and carry out the tests which include making sure that everything works in different environments and across platforms. This is mandatory in an era where everything needs to connect to everything.
- When each application is designed it is expected to provide a set of results. The specialist is responsible for keeping a record of the actual results and comparing this record with the expected ones.
- Software developers are not perfect. They can make mistakes too like any other human being. The quality assurance specialist needs to spot the mistakes and the bugs and make a report to the developers so that they can be corrected.
- A large part of the specialist’s time is occupied by keeping records. Records of everything he or she is responsible for. The test results, the software shortcomings, a historical analysis of the comparisons, everything.
- The specialist will have to move a little deeper into the software environment and examine segments of code, check its execution and its functionality and create a set or error handling procedures that makes sense.
- He or she will also be responsible for ensuring that the applications used are in full compliance with the best practices of software development, the highest standards of web development and with the potential to adapt to improvements that will be set forth by upstream sources.
- Finally he or she must participate in all meetings that have to do with application planning and create a set of instructions for the application users.
- While this may be expected of other specialists, some companies do need from their IT quality assurance personnel to contribute decisively to the security of the applications by conducting audits.
- Even if everything appears to work normally, it does not mean that it cannot get improved or that there are hidden problems waiting for the opportunity to surface. Within the duties of the specialist are reviews, inspections and walkthroughs to make sure that there is no such possibility and to determine possible areas of improvements.
IT Quality Assurance Qualifications
The typical qualifications begin with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering and information systems technology. This is the minimum requirement for an entry level specialist. If a company needs to hire a quality assurance manager or supervisor then the candidate must present a master’s degree. There are other certificates available that can also be used as proof of knowledge such as the Professional Software Quality Engineer certification offered by the American Society of Quality.
The atypical qualifications and those that actually make the difference between getting hired or not, have to do with paying attention to details, have good communication and interpersonal relationship skills as they will be expected to work closely and cooperate with product managers, software developers and other departments, but most of all they must have an adeptness in anticipation. This is the most crucial part of the job description. Users will make all sorts of mistakes. The quality assurance specialist must be able to anticipate the vast majority of these mistakes and adapt quickly to correcting the unexpected ones.
Team leader qualifications will be asked for if the position is for a supervisor and previous managerial experience will be mandatory if the position asks for an experienced specialist to take over the management of the quality assurance department of a big corporation.
To come to the essence of what a quality assurance specialist is to provide to his or her employer through all the above is peace of mind. If the specialist does what he or she is supposed to do then the natural order of a business which is to fall to randomness will not happen. That’s the main reason behind the need for an IT quality assurance specialist.
QA Job Opportunities
IT Quality Assurance specialists are considered as production support personnel. What this means is that it does not matter what the main business of a company is. Such a specialist is or will be required either by a company specializing in IT technology or by a company selling truck tires. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics it’s one of the jobs that offers a much faster rate of growth than the general average. This growth is expected to continue at least until 2022.
However, getting hired on a salary may not be the only available way to work as a quality specialist. There are other options wide open at this time which include freelance consulting if the specialist is willing to take matters into their own hands. However, this line of business is not expected to grow later than 2020.
Offers on salary and hiring expectations
The initial salary offered for an entry level or a first time hired specialist averages at $58,000. As always some states may offer a salary as high as $75,000 while some others may not offer more than $45,000. For supervisors this average becomes a little more than $70,000 and for managers it goes to about $90,000.
In more economically advanced areas (i.e. greater companies, more company headquarters, higher paying jobs, etc…) the open positions are balanced with the available people for hire. From the time a position is offered until it is filled it usually takes a period between three and four weeks.
In less advanced areas, the specialist availability is actually very low. A position may be open for months before it gets filled especially in secluded or rural areas. These positions are filled within days from the time an applicant shows up. A specialist may want to consider these areas in reference to the incentives they provide. Usually the salary is greater and there are other benefits involved which may balance the scale of not wanting to work in such an area.
Final Thoughts on the QA Career Outlook
Information technology did not enter our lives by accident. Nor does it stay there by accident. It is here to stay and regulate everything for reasons of expediency, financial growth, solid business support and wider operational options and opportunities. Many people believe that IT takes jobs away from people by automating the processes and making the workforce obsolete.
This may be true for people used to working with tools and screwdrivers and drills etc… However, it opens up new job opportunities for people with a different skill set. Skills that have to do with computer networks, software development and providing support to the main production line of a business.
In the past the responsibilities and the job description of an IT quality assurance specialist where divided to people with other responsibilities. However, the scope of IT technology is getting bigger all the time and it should not be expected that these people are still able to handle the workload which is becoming greater and harder. This is the need that actually created the position.
With a hiring horizon of at least 10 years ahead (the projections do not mean that after 2022 there will be no need for IT quality assurance specialists), along with the possibility to change to other related jobs, getting a master’s degree in software engineering, computer science and information systems technology may be one of the best options available for a financially secured future.
However this future does not come with no strings attached. IT has something new to offer all the time. The financially secured future only comes in as long as the specialist keeps himself or herself constantly updated with the new developments. This means attending seminars and studying. It’s a job that offers an additional advantage. It will not allow a specialist to get complacent.