Top Skills Every QA Engineer Should Know
QA Engineers typically come in 2 varieties.
- Manual (black box) testers
- Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)
The type of QA Engineer that you want to be is determined by the skills that you have.
However, if you want to have a career that pays you over $100k, then you are going to need to upgrade your skills.
Lets quickly talk about the different QA types. I’ll go into detail of what skills apply to each role below.
Manual testers typically have a general system and software knowledge. They don’t usually know how the inner workings of the application work. These testers are focused on the complete end product that will be delivered to a customer.
SDET engineers have a holistic understanding of the application. They should understand how each part of the application works from the inside out. SDETs typically are always testing each part throughout the lifecycle of a product. They are not just focused on the end product.
This is a list of skills that you need to stand out in the competitive job market.
Note this post contains affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use these links, but it helps to support this blog.
Oh, and if you are new to QA then you should check out my course QA Guide to Web Application Testing for Beginners.
You need to know how to work with data. This is the most desired skill that I see on every job posting out there. This skill applies to both manual testers and SDETs.
There are different versions of SQL, but it doesn’t really matter which one you master. The basics principles are the same across the board.
You should be able to do each of the CRUD operations.
2. HTML / CSS
The world works on the internet. Web pages and Web Applications are now the primary means of delivering software.
This means that if you are applying for a Qa job, that you are most likely going to be testing something web related.
Understanding how the application is built is critical to knowing how to properly test it.
This skill is directed more towards an SDET. If you are planning on doing any Front End automation testing, then you need to know HTML and CSS very well.
Check out my course Website Automation Testing for Beginners with Protractor if you want to learn how to do this today.
Honestly, different people are going to tell you to learn a different programming language.
My opinion is that you should learn the language used to build the web application. Is should be obvious why.
SDET types would want to learn this for use when creating automated Front End tests.
Check out that Website Automation Testing for Beginners with Protractor course yet?
And there is an added benefit!
Since you know all the languages required to build a website, you could pull double duty and become a Front End Web Developer.
For this one, I am not expecting anyone to learn how to build an API from scratch. If you can, awesome.
The important thing here is understanding how APIs work.
Both manual and SDET types will need this skill.
Manual testers should know how the API works so that’s they can make calls and understand the responses.
SDETs will need to understand how the API works so that they can write automated tests against them.
Your team may be using one of the many options for version control. The one you use doesn’t really matter since the principles are the same.
I am recommending you to learn GIT since it is widely used in the industry today.
Manual testers have traditionally not worked with version control, depending on code deployments to be done in a shared environment.
However, if you want to up your game you really need to learn how to pull down code onto your system. Now you have no excuse of why you can’t test the last bug fix or newest feature!
For SDETs GIT will be standard for getting code onto their local system. They will also use it to check in’s any automated code that they write.
The next three skills are going to be softer skills than what I listed above. Don’t downplay the importance of these skills. These three things were the reason I was able to get promoted and move up in my career so quickly.
6. Technical Writing
During your career as a QA you are going to spend a lot of time writing technical documentation.
Let me give you some examples:
- Test Plan
- Test Cases
- Test Result Reports
- UAT Training Documentation
- User Guides
- Best Practices
Being able to clearly communicate technical details through writing is critical. Mistakes or being unclear can cause headaches from everyone on your team.
7. Public Speaking
For this one I a man not expecting you to have to give presentations in front of the whole company.
I am expecting that you can communicate clearly and effectively in front of small groups, like your team.
Being able to clearly communicate verbally to others gives people confidence in you.
The worst possible thing after coming out of a meeting is not knowing what someone was talking about.
And the big problem with that is that when it happens repeatedly, they just start tuning you out.
8. Customer Service
This may sound funny for a development team member to have customer service skills.
Think of it this way…
Who is the application for?
I’m pretty sure we are not spending countless hours and money on an app that no one uses.
As a QA your top priority when testing things should be how the customer will be affected.
Does the app make sense? What might a user do? Does my user understand how to do these things?
Remember, without the customer you don’t have a job.