How to Become a QA Automation Tester

Written by Coursera • 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 to see if it’s right for you.

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

Quality assurance (QA) automation testing is a relatively new role, so there’s no single path to breaking into the field. Gaining a solid understanding of the QA automation tester’s role in software development and user experience is a good starting point. From there, it’s helpful to cultivate relevant skills and earn credentials to help you start your career as a QA automation tester.

QA automation testing isn't only a relatively new field, but it’s also one poised for potential growth. If you’re unsure of the possibilities, consider some of the recent statistics. A 2020 McKinsey survey revealed that 66 percent of businesses automate at least one business function, a 9 percent increase compared to the previous survey conducted two years prior [1]. Statista estimates that global spending on digital transformation will reach 2.8 trillion by 2025 [2]. Together, these statistics help to paint a rosy picture for anyone considering working within the industry. 

What is QA automation?

QA automation 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 and allows you to customize testing to the software from the start of each project and replace many time-consuming tasks that QA professionals used to complete manually. 

QA automation enables software developers to continuously test software 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 the framework on which the testing runs.

Types of QA automation 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 used types of QA automation 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 testing 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.

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

Requirements for the role of 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)

Human 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

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

Although it's not a strict requirement, most QA automation testers have a bachelor's degree at a minimum. While it's possible to break into the field with a high school degree and a combination of boot camps or Professional Certificate programs, 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.

What is the job outlook for QA automation engineers?

Good news if you’re considering this field: the job outlook looks strong. QA automation engineers predominately work in Fortune 500, technology, and manufacturing industries, with 38 percent remaining in their positions for between one and two years [3]. Additionally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that software development, quality assurance, and testing jobs will increase substantially, with a growth rate of 25 percent between 2021 and 2031. This suggests significantly more growth than the average for all industries [4].

What is the average salary for a QA automation engineer?

In addition to above-average job growth, you can anticipate strong earnings potential as a QA automation engineer. The average annual salary is $108,551, with a possible salary range between $63,000 and $244,000 [5].

According to the BLS, the average salary for a QA automation engineer is $48,960 [6]. Even at the low end of the spectrum, your potential earnings are well above the national average for all occupations.

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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: $77,042 [7]

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:   $73,778 [8]

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: $78,992[9]

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: $97,128 [10]

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: $121,555 [11]

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.

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

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.

Ready to start the journey?

If becoming a QA automation tester seems like a good match for your career goals, you may want to start by researching bachelor’s degree programs in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field.

Or, if you’re still unsure if it’s a good fit, you may want to explore automation with a Professional Certificate like the Google IT Automation with Python program on Coursera. This certificate program is geared toward beginners and allows you to learn how to automate tasks, get comfortable using Python, and cultivate problem-solving abilities to help you find the best path. 

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Google IT Automation with Python

Learn in-demand skills like Python, Git, and IT automation to advance your career

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BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Using Version Control, Troubleshooting & Debugging, Python Programming, Configuration Management, Automation, Basic Python Data Structures, Fundamental Programming Concepts, Basic Python Syntax, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Setting up your Development Environment, Regular Expression (REGEX), Testing in Python, Automating System Administration Tasks with Python, Bash Scripting, Using Git, Version Control Systems, Interacting with GitHub, Reverting Changes, Creating Pull Requests, Improving Software Performance, Managing Scarce Resources, Advanced Troubleshooting, Understanding Errors, Finding the Root Cause of a Problem, Automation at Scale, Basic Monitoring & Alerting, Cloud Computing, Using Puppet, Serialization, Building a Solution, Creating and Translating Media Files, Interacting with Web Services

Article sources

1

McKinsey & Company. “The imperatives for automation success, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-imperatives-for-automation-success.” Accessed December 13, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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