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What Is a QA Analyst? Everything You Need to Know
Adobe Stock
Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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Do you have a background or interest in software development? Is your attention to detail one of your greatest strengths? Do you want to play an integral role in the creation of products? Then quality assurance (QA) analysis could be the career path for you.

QA analysts are essential to ensuring that a product is error-free and up to par before it reaches the consumer. These professionals work closely with software developers, testing products prior to their release to the general public. Employers often seek out women in tech, and there are plenty of opportunities for female professionals in QA analysis.

What is the field all about? Read on to find out.

What is a QA analyst?

So, what is QA analysis? The process involves testing websites, software, and other digital platforms, documenting any bugs and errors, and reporting them to the software developers and programmers who are working on the product. After the software team reports that they have resolved the issues, the QA analyst will retest the program. She may repeatedly suggest improvements and fixes until finally giving the okay on the company releasing the software or product to the public.

QA analysts are integral to the software development process, identifying potential issues before they arise and ensuring that the consumers are able to use the product without encountering any issues.

How do I become a QA analyst?

QA analysts follow different paths, but here are some general steps that will help you along your journey to performing QA analysis professionally:

1. Earn your degree.

In most cases, a QA analyst will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to successfully land her first role. A computer science or degree in a related subject, such as information technology, will enable you to learn about software and computer systems. This knowledge is essential for performing quality analysis. 

2. Gain experience.

Even for entry-level QA analyst jobs, you will need to have some experience under your belt. An internship in QA analysis can help you learn about the profession while gaining the skills you will need to successfully land a full-time role. Plus, even internships in the field tend to be relatively high-paying, so you’ll be able to earn money while gaining the knowledge you’ll need for your career.

As with any internship, you should make the most of the experience by going above and beyond what your supervisor asks of you, asking questions, and networking with colleagues. This can help you learn the ins and outs of the industry, as well as potentially land a reference or even job at the company.

3. Learn about computer systems and software.

An understanding of computer systems and software is critical to success in your role as a QA analyst. It’s a good idea to read up on applications, methodologies, and software development and take additional courses as necessary.

You should also stay abreast of trends and changes in the industry, even while practicing your profession. As with many technology fields, the tools and knowledge necessary for doing your job (and doing it well) are ever-changing, and it is important to keep up.

4. Land your first role.

As with many careers, you'll generally land your first role through a combination of networking, perusing job-search sites, looking on job boards, and using other methods, such as attending career fairs (virtual career fairs are a great place to look for tech jobs).

4. Gain more experience.

A QA analyst may earn a Master of Science and/or gain certifications in various applications or methodologies in the field. Doing so, as well as gaining more experience in the field, will increase your earning potential and provide additional opportunities for advancement in your career.

What skills are needed?

In order to become a successful QA analyst, you will need a knowledge of and a background in computer science or information technology. You must also be well-versed in the platforms and tools required to perform quality assurance of the products you will be testing. Additionally, it is important to have a variety of soft skills, such as:

• Collaboration

• Communication (written and oral)

• Problem-solving

• Attention to detail

How much money does a QA analyst make?

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for QA analysts in the United States is $67,864 annually. Keep in mind that salaries can vary widely based on your level of experience, location, company, and many other factions.

What is a day in the life of a QA analyst like?

As with many careers, the day-to-day work life of a QA analyst can vary considerably depending on the demands of the company at a given time. Some tasks and responsibilities might include:

• Checking the status of assigned tickets.

This can inform a QA analyst about items on her to-do list. Once she checks the tickets, she will take action as needed. 

• Meeting with the development team.

The software development team will inform the QA analyst about the current project in development and provide details for testing purposes.

• Running tests.

This is often the bulk of a QA analyst’s day—performing tests on projects and software and development. During testing, she will keep track of any bugs or issues and report them to the development team.

• Documenting.

As the QA analyst encounters issues, she will document them accordingly.

• Team meetings.

QA analysts might meet with their teams to discuss a product and touch base on projects.

• Meeting with other teams or higher-ups.

A QA analyst might discuss current strategies and plans with key personnel within the company, as well as report recent bugs or issues.

What types of companies offer this job?

QA analyst positions are the most ubiquitous in industries like computer systems and software. However, many other industries employ them, since nearly every company needs professionals who can ensure that their products are bug- and error-free before deploying them to the general public. Other industries in which QA analysts are likely to find positions include:

• finance

• insurance

• government

• healthcare

• food service

• travel

• customer service

• manufacturing

Should you become a QA analyst?

Detail-oriented tech professionals with a strong computer science or information technology background should consider pursuing a career in QA analysis. Since the field is part of the software development process, people who have or want to gain more experience in this area should also consider it as a potential career path. Ultimately, it is important to have a passion for product development as well as an interest in and knowledge of software and computer systems.

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