Jobs in Quality Assurance (QA) by nature are meticulous work. QA engineers deal with upholding procedural integrity in the software development processes; they enforce the rules in coding sprints, and create testing procedures that are run at different points of product creation. They head up teams of QA testers, who are paid to break software by emulating the bizarre behaviors of a nightmare end user; under direction of QA engineers, testing personnel document bugs for developers to patch and fix.
Historically, QA testing roles have involved, in large part, tedious repetition of manual tasks and checks of site functionality and manual error logging. Advancement in a QA career took a knack for thinking in a user-first mentality, displaying ingenuity in problem-solving, and hint of technical prowess when reporting bugs. A QA tester that can communicate processes and fixes in a clear, articulate manner readily moves up the ranks.
QA automation tools are changing roles in the industry
Automation of manual aspects of QA testing are changing the face of the profession in the software space. QA engineers putting on developer hats have eliminated many of the manual tasks once performed by human testers by programming scrips. Are QA automation apps signaling a T-1000-style robot takeover of the QA testing role?
“It is definitely more Wall-E in nature,” contends Tony Liberto, a software engineer with CyberCoders. “It removes the monotony from the job.”
“Manual testing will never be obsolete,” he says assuredly. “The automation software will free-up manual resources so they can more fully interact with the application itself, thus finding issues before the users do.”
QA automation is without a doubt streamlining the process. Yet the applications are no replacement for human ingenuity in software testing. The mindset of a standout QA tester still holds value; the fastest route to developing the chops as a QA engineer is more or less the same, and resources for learning the technical tools are literally at your fingertips.
Master automated QA testing with Selenium
Most if not all QA engineer and QA analyst jobs list Selenium proficiency as a desired skill. Selenium is a simple Java-based program deployed in a web browser and records QA procedure as coded text. When the QA trips an error is gives developers a clear cause and effect scenario they can then go in and fix. Selenium is available as freeware, and users can practice QA on thousands of sites on the web.
Knowing Selenium shows off QA proficiency and troubleshooting chops. “The best thing a candidate can do is interact with Selenium,” Liberto explains. “Then it is a matter of refining interactions--how can you optimize those interactions? How can you increase coverage, and expedite the process?”
Navigating around Selenium reveals the coding end of a web application during the QA test process. Once you learn the basics of the programming language, Selenium experience develops intuition for problem solving with code—and that is a highly sought after value in software development.
Learn the code. Yes, you can!
As much as the development of QA automation is changing the game for QA testing, the availability of learning materials for the software is refining the ideal candidate. “As long as you have the can do attitude and a willingness to learn you can code,” Liberto says. “It is a simple matter of leveling; a basic understanding of a scripting or object oriented language is all that is required.”
As programming languages grow and develop so does the availability of quality training materials online that are most of the time free to access. Liberto is a huge proponent of self-taught technical aptitude: “With one language under your belt picking up an additional language is merely a matter of time,” he explains. “Over time, it becomes easier to learn and code.”