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Back to basics: what is QA?

Reviewed By Engineering Expert and Coach
Bill Coloe
February 9, 2023
QA stands for "Quality Assurance" and in the product and tech space refers to making sure everything is working as expected. This covers things like product functionality, feature releases, and experience launches. Every company has a QA process-- some better than others-- to make sure everything is always working as expected.

Curious what we mean when we say "product?" Read This.

What is a QA Engineer?

In short, QA engineers test and maintain the performance of software applications, specifically in the pre-launch and pre-update phases of development.

QA engineers support engineering teams by actively testing and breaking new software releases. These roles need to have comprehensive understandings of their company's code and software architecture to do their job most effectively. They usually support multiple product teams and developers, and are the final step of the development lifecycle. They are usually the only blocker between major bugs and primary end-users of a product, and therefore need to be extremely thorough with their testing.

Though testing is the primary function of their role, QA Engineers also interpret and write technical documentation for their companies. If the company is particularly small, a QA engineer may also find themselves assisting with frontend development work even though their primary role is testing.

QA Engineers need to be creative in designing various test cases based on individualized products. They also need to constantly be searching for inputs or patterns that could potentially cause an application or software to malfunction.

Ultimately, the theme of the QA engineer role is diagnosing how to fix products in the most cost-effective and efficient ways.

Not interested in qa engineering? Check out our other job guides below for more traditional engineering roles that require programming experience.
View Frontend Engineer Job GuideView Backend Engineer Job Guide

What does a QA Engineer do?

QA engineers spend a majority of their workday collecting and analyzing data from their own experiences with a product. This is known as "debugging." Work is assigned to a QA engineer usually in a structured way, after the code has been completed by the primary developer.

QA engineers also spend time reviewing bug reports from customer service teams or individual users. They take this information and isolate code sections to be debugged by themselves or development teams.

They also write and run test cases to ensure code functionality for all users, even users who complete abnormal activities with their product.

Sometimes if a QA engineer or employer is more senior and mature, they will build and monitor automatic testing engines to administer tests to a software and analyze the results

Do I need a degree to be a QA Engineer?

None required for an associate/entry level QA engineering position. While this role seems more technical, QA engineers can come from all backgrounds, and do not normally require a degree. This is also a great role to break into the tech industry with limited experience.

We've seen these people be incredibly successful QA engineers:

  • Data entry and receptionist professionals
  • Restaurant servers and managers
  • Accounting and budgeting roles
  • Basically any role where you can prove attention to detail and creativity

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. Learn more here.

Our Favorite QA Engineering Certifications

There are not many QA engineering certifications out there because the role does not have too many hard skills. The most relevant course is the specialization from Minnesota, hosted by Coursera, which focused on fundamentals of QA and how to use some of the more relevant tools.

Career Path of a QA Engineer

We included two paths here to show the versatility in starting out as a QA engineer. Usually these users transition to become developers or engineering managers, but we've known several who've transferred into project management or even UX research (truly!). So while these paths are common, the #1 thing to keep in mind is this is a great path to get your foot in the door at a tech company.

QA Engineer
2-3 Years
*Or Jr. QA Engineer
Sr. QA Engineer /
Project Manager
3-5 Years
QA Manager/
Senior Project Manager
5-10 Years
Engineering Manager /
Product Manager
4-6 Years

What is an QA Engineer's salary?

We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and frontend engineers can make anywhere between 75k - 95k, depending on their location and skillsets.

Top Skills of an QA Engineer

We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for QA engineers to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.

Remember: there are not many hard-skills required for QA engineering, and these skills reflect that. Familiarity with programming and language frameworks is recommended to get ahead of other applicants, but not required to. be successful in the role.

  • Create test cases that make sure the product is consumer ready
  • Demonstrate excellent problem-solving skills pertaining to a product malfunction, and exercise creative ways to ‘break’ a product
  • Contribute meaningfully to a team-based environment deeply rooted in continuous learning, teaching, and sharing information
  • Write automated end-to-end tests via Testcafe and Cypress
  • Be an active, curious participant and listener in daily meetings and discussions
  • API testing, Karate and/or Java familiarity

Top Tools of a QA Engineer

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming an QA engineer, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

For Testing Management

  • TestRail
  • Zephyr
  • TestLink
  • TestCafe
  • Cypress

For Automated Testing

  • Selenium
  • Appium
  • TestComplete

For Code Review

  • SonarQube
  • Crucible
  • CodeClimate

Bug Tracking

  • Jira
  • Bugzilla
  • Notion
  • Trello

Key Traits of a Successful QA Engineer


QA takes a lot of problem solving to make sure products are run as effectively as possible.


QA engineers need to write testing requirements to ultimately cover most ways a user will interact with their product.

QA engineers need to be able to consume complex sites and break them down systematically to find issues.


Ultimately, a QA engineer's role is communicating with development teams about issues with their products. this needs to be done with grace.


While QA engineers don't need to code, they need to understand various coding languages to complete their work. this is company-dependent.


A great deal of an QA engineer's job is writing documentation on bugs and test cases for the developers and product managers within a company.


QA can sometimes be incredibly frustrating, and patience is an extremely undervalued competency.

QA Engineers will work closely with:

Product Managers
Learn more
Frontend Engineers
Learn more
Project Managers
Learn more
Backend Engineers
Learn more

Difference between QA Engineers and Software Engineers

Traditional software engineers differ from QA engineers in that they are the ones actively building the products that need the QA testing.

Software Engineers: the builders
QA Engineers: the testers & bug catchers

Both roles are integral for a functioning engineering team.


QA Engineering is a great role to catapult yourself into the tech industry. After doing 2 years of QA, the world is your oyster for engineering and product roles. This is actually one of our favorite roles to recommend for users to break into tech without any hard skills.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a QA engineering role?

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How to Get a Job as an QA Engineer

We love a stepped process for quick and specific results. The 3 tiered process is best.

Learn more
  • decorative heading

    do your research.
    Check out our list of relevant core competencies and skills. Research other jobs in the field to see if any of those appeal to you more.

  • decorative heading

    identify skills.
    If those sound good, look at our job descriptions. Identify and check off what skills you already have, and start thinking about ways to target the ones you don't.

  • decorative heading

    take classes.
    we recommend classes and certifications to get familiar with specific, relevant job requirements. Learn from your home with no more fluff or expensive bootcamps.

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