Have you ever thought about becoming a quality assurance analyst (QA analyst), but you’re not quite sure what it entails?
QA analysts are vital to businesses across multiple industries, but today we’re talking specifically about this job title in the tech industry. Let’s discuss the value a QA analyst brings, along with job description, salary info, and more!
What is a QA Analyst?
The answer is in the name: quality assurance. QA analysts are responsible for evaluating and assuring the quality of a product, system, service, or software. In the tech industry, that primarily consists of systems and software.
‘Quality’ can be defined by user experience (UX), performance, and function. To accomplish quality analysis, QA analysts are tasked with:
- Researching competitors and markets
- Creating, planning, and implementing test strategy
- Analyzing test results for inefficiencies, bugs, or any code related issues
A QA analyst is the subject matter expert when it comes to pinpointing errors or defects within software and systems, and determining how those can be resolved. They operate hands-on, using the software or system themselves so that they have a firsthand experience. This is often done with software specifically designed for testing.
Once issues have been identified, the QA analyst is responsible for:
- Reporting findings to the development team
- Outlining and driving improvements
- Planning and implementing further testing
- Tracking progress on issue resolutions
QA Analyst vs. Tester vs. Engineer
Under the umbrella of quality assurance, there are three main titles: analyst, tester, and engineer. While there’s some overlap, the day-to-day and priorities of these roles differ.
Analyst vs. Tester
Essentially, QA testers are responsible for tasks similar to the front-end duties of QA analysts. They assess systems and software, identifying bugs and inadequacies. In short—they test! The work that’s done after testing however, is where the two roles diverge.
The analyst takes it a step further, outlining ways to improve and being involved in strategy creation and implementation. Analysts are also hands-on throughout the entire life cycle as they ensure the necessary changes they identified are properly added, unlike testers.
QA testing ends at determination of bugs and errors, while QA analysis develops solutions and plans, in addition to testing.
Analyst vs. Engineer
Similarly, the QA engineer is also more involved in the front-end. The engineers create tests that can be used to identify issues with software. Their role requires more technical knowledge or certifications. They’re also tasked with anticipating and preventing defects from happening in the first place, where the analysts are tasked with identifying or fixing defects that have already occurred.
QA engineers also assess technical risks and potential errors before software or system development begins. Their work is far more preventive than QA analysts. But, they may work alongside testers or analysts later in the life cycle.
Top QA Analyst Soft Skills
Soft skills are those that aren’t exactly certifiable, but are still highly valuable to the role.
To be successful as a QA analyst, you need strong analytical skills, good knowledge of data analysis and quality assurance policies, attention to detail, and problem-solving or troubleshooting abilities. The use of sound logic, reasoning, and scientific methods is also a key requirement for this role.
This role requires frequent collaboration with development and production teams, so it’s equally important to have excellent communication skills and organization.
Hard Skills and Qualifications
Hard skills and qualifications are a bit more quantifiable than soft skills.
The most important hard skills for a QA analyst in IT revolve around software and testing. These include knowledge of automated testing tools, software development life cycle, and software quality assurance principles. It’s also vital to have a keen understanding of database structures and queries, as well as quality assurance and control.
Qualifications in IT are most often interchangeable with certifications. They vary for the role of QA analyst, but here are a few that are good to have:
- Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
- Certified Quality Assurance Professional (CQAP)
- ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL)
- Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE)
- Certified Instrumentation Specialist (CIS)
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
There’s considerable range in QA analyst salaries. This is due to the influence of industry, experience, location, level of qualification, or number of certifications.
In 2021 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary as $109,020. However, Glassdoor reported the average annual base salary as $76,154, with $6,472 of additional annual income.
With IT being one of the most in-demand and fastest growing fields, career outlook and job security for a QA analyst in IT is very promising.
There are also several avenues for career growth. Natural progression is most commonly moving from QA Analyst, to Sr. QA Analyst, then onto leadership roles within that division like Team Coordinator or Test Manager. But, the skills and experienced gained as a QA analyst are highly transferrable to a number of IT roles, like UI Designer or Product Owner.
Ready to Become a QA Analyst?
Quality assurance is a key component in ensuring software and other tech services are functional, effective, and user-friendly. Without analysts, bugs and coding defects could pass through undetected, until it’s too late.
If you’re attentive, analytical, and passionate about problem-solving, it may be time to consider a career as a QA analyst. Check out the Insight Global job board to get started.