How to Become a QA Automation Tester

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what QA automation testing is, how it fits into software development, and how to start a career as a QA automation tester.

[Featured Image]:  QA automation tester working on designs and protocols, preparing a report for the software development team.

The quality assurance field is poised for growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), QA careers will experience 25 percent job growth between 2022 and 2032 [1]. Automation is also likely to increase in prevalence over time, with Statista estimating spending on digital transformation to reach 2.8 trillion by 2025 [2]. Together, these statistics create a positive outlook for anyone considering working within the industry. Read on to find out more about the role of a QA automation tester and how you can start or advance this career.

Read more: Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: Choosing the Right Career Path

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What is QA automation?

Automated testing is a vital part of the software development process. It relies on specialized tools to quickly and efficiently test software and catch potential problems to help bring it to market faster while maintaining an excellent user experience. The process doesn't just detect problems; it allows you to customize testing to the software from the start of each project and replace many time-consuming tasks related to the manual testing process.

Automating processes enables software developers to conduct continuous testing with increased efficiency and frequency, bringing products to the market faster, updating existing software more quickly, and keeping pace with what consumers want. The advantages of QA automation testing include its accuracy, time efficiency, and ability to reuse test scripts. Additionally, you can run automated tests 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a QA automation tester, you would create and maintain automation frameworks.

Types of automated QA testing

As a QA automation tester, you'll work with various testing types to solve specific issues and meet business objectives. For example, you might use it to test the graphical user interface (GUI) to test keystrokes, mouse clicks, and other functions to ensure the user experience will be positive and consistent.

You can also use QA automation testing to test the application programming interface (API). In this case, you'd use tools to assess the software at its message layer. This allows you to check individual components. It's also an effective way to gauge end-to-end performance for response time, security responses, and other variables. A few commonly automated types of QA testing include:

  • Functional testing: This QA automation test checks to make sure the software performs the required functions and creates the expected output based on the input provided.

  • Performance testing. This nonfunctional test type puts the software under a specific workload and tests for stability and reliability to pinpoint potential performance issues and ensure consistent performance.

  • Unit testing. This type tests various functions or software components to ensure each works correctly and assesses elements like the user interface and application behavior.

  • Smoke tests. These tests are often called “build verification testing,” and they assess the stability of the software’s architecture to ensure all main functions operate as intended.

What is a QA automation tester?

As a QA automation tester, you'll create designs for automation testing, write automation test scripts, manage protocols, and report on all results. You’ll typically work as part of the software development team, interacting with validation engineers and firmware developers. Further in your career, you may go on to lead a team of QA automation testers and seek ways to increase the team's efficiency.

Read more: How to Write Test Cases: A Step-by-Step QA Guide

What does a QA automation tester do every day?

Creating verification protocols, writing scripts, designing automation tests, and finding weaknesses within the software you're testing are routine day-to-day tasks you may encounter as a QA automation tester. Other typical responsibilities include:

  • Brainstorming ideas for new testing procedures

  • Managing existing QA automation testing and implementing new tests

  • Reviewing automated testing reports

  • Working with software engineers and designers to solve any issues identified by testing

  • Writing reports based on test findings and maintaining accurate documentation

  • Conducting tests and developing solutions based on business objectives and client requirements

How to become a QA automation tester

Strong technical skills, including coding and framework design, and human skills, like communication and teamwork, are necessary. Additionally, you may find a lot of overlap between testing and development, which requires a fair amount of flexibility to navigate successfully. You also must readily adapt to changing needs and collaborate with other team members and others throughout the organization.

Technical skills

You'll create and manage test automation in this role, which requires substantial technical know-how. Common skills employers require include:

  • Proficiency with coding languages such as Python or Java

  • Experience working in framework design

  • Strong foundation in networks, operating systems, and computer hardware

  • Experience working with analytics and artificial intelligence

  • Knowledge of manual testing, automated testing, and QA methodology

  • Proficiency in continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD)

Workplace skills

In addition to having strong technical skills, you'll also need to cultivate your human skills, including your ability to communicate with others. In this role, you'll need to be able to express your point of view and collaborate with other team members. Additional skills that many employers look for include:

  • Ability to adapt to changing deadlines and team structures

  • Willingness to collaborate with others and look at other team members' points of view

  • Persistence to delve into problems and develop high-performing QA automation tests

  • Ability to place yourself in the end-users place to gain a deeper understanding of expected product performance

  • Desire to continually learn and gain new skills as the QA automation landscape shifts and evolves

Required experience

There’s no single path to breaking into the field of quality assurance testing. Generally, you'll need to gain a solid understanding of user experience (UX) and the role of quality assurance in the software development life cycle. Employers prefer hiring people with several years of experience performing automation tests and using tools like testRigor, Mobot, Kobiton, or Katalon. Many QA automation testers start their career paths in fields like QA analysis. Additionally, because employers also look for a solid foundation in working with programming languages, APIs, and writing scripts, it may be helpful to have experience in software development, web development, or a related field.

Educational qualifications

Seventy-four percent of automation testers have a bachelor's degree, twenty percent have a master's degree, and 3 percent have an associate degree [3]. It's possible to break into the field with a high school degree and a combination of boot camps or Professional Certificate programs. Still, earning a degree in computer science or a related field can help you develop the technical skills you’ll need to succeed in this role.

Read more: Quality Assurance Certification: Options, Testing, and Careers

QA automation tester salary

In addition to above-average job growth, you can anticipate strong earnings potential as a QA automation tester. The average annual salary is $85,435, with a possible salary range between $69,000 and $118,000 [4].

According to the BLS, the average salary for a QA automation engineer is $99,620 [1]. Even at the lower end of the spectrum, your potential earnings are above the national average for all occupations.


Given the increasing adoption of digital transformation across the globe, finding jobs within a wide range of industries is not surprising. The role of a QA automation tester or engineer can differ depending on client needs and objectives. Additionally, you can pursue different roles based on the certifications you choose to pursue. Five popular options include certified software quality analysts, certified test engineers, certified associates in software testing, International Software Testing Qualifications Board test automation engineers, and certified software quality managers.

Certified software quality analyst (CSQA) 

Average annual salary: $89,668 [5]

In this role, you'll monitor methods and processes in all aspects of software engineering to maintain quality standards. You might be tasked with essentially breaking the architecture to ensure it's solid and well-functioning for end-users.

Certified test engineer (CSTE)

Average annual salary: $85,227 [6]

As a certified software testing engineer, you'll examine code, run programs, and check functionality and adaptability. You’ll also assess the software's performance to decrease bugs and increase end-user satisfaction. 

Certified associate in software testing (CAST)

Average annual salary: $91,245 [7]

In this role, you will be tasked with conducting rigorous software testing, including running tests. This early career option allows you to gain deeper knowledge and build a portfolio.

ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) test automation engineer

Average annual salary: $103,592 [8]

You'll design, develop, and manage testing automation concepts, methods, and processes in this mid-to-upper-level role. You'll also optimize testing to create solutions for evolving systems and lead the process of creating solutions to meet the organization's specific needs.

Certified manager of software quality (CMSQ)

Average annual salary: $134,335 [9]

This role is an upper-level role, charged with assessing and improving software quality in this upper-level role. You'll need to understand how to evaluate and choose the tools used, weigh the potential impact of process improvements on other processes, and consult on projects.

How to know a QA automation tester job role is right for you

To assess if this is your proper role, ask yourself a few key questions: Are you passionate about using automation technology to test systems, software, and websites? It takes time and dedication to gain the skills needed to succeed in this job, so having a passion for the field is another must. Other helpful questions to consider include the following:

  • Are you comfortable and confident writing scripts?

  • Do you enjoy asking questions and getting to the root of problems?

  • Can you manage your time well and prioritize your tasks?

  • Do you understand how to analyze data and report on your findings?

  • Can you empathize with end-users and create testing solutions accordingly?

If you answered “yes,” to most questions, this could be a good fit for you. Additionally, you must be willing to engage in lifelong learning to keep up with the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Read more: How To Write a QA Tester Resume: Layout, Design, Examples

Prepare for your next QA automation testing role with Coursera

If becoming a QA automation tester seems like a good match for your career goals, explore automation while earning a Professional Certificate from an industry leader in technology. The Google IT Automation with Python certificate program is beginner-friendly and self-paced. You can use it to learn how to automate tasks, familiarize yourself with Python and automation tools, and cultivate your problem-solving abilities.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers: Occupational Outlook Handbook (Job Outlook),” Accessed February 22, 2024.

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