From Junior QA Engineer to Lead testing career

If you like to get to the heart of the problem and solve difficult problems, try the profession of QA-engineer, or software tester. Traditionally, the entry threshold is considered low. However, a deep hole may lie beneath a low threshold. We will find out what is the responsibility of testers at all levels and how to develop a career in this field.

Duties and responsibilities

The testing specialist finds errors and defects in the work of the software. The sooner the defect is discovered and corrected, the faster the solution will be available on the market without additional costly modifications.

The responsibilities of the testing specialist are:

  • Development of a test plan;
  • Writing test cases;
  • Finding defects and describing them in the bug tracking system;
  • Communication with developers regarding identified bugs;
  • Control of error correction;
  • Monitoring of the life cycle of bugs;
  • Analysis and optimization of testing processes;
  • Reporting and test documentation.

A good tester is distinguished by developed communicative skills, broad-mindedness, attention to detail, computer programming skills, fortitude, analytical skills and passion for the work performed.

Benefits and complexities of work

As QA engineers themselves admit, they are attracted by the ability to get into detail and perfect the product. In addition, software testing is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate internal perfectionism and learn new technologies.

It is important to understand that the approach to the quality work of engineers should be different from that of programmers. The latter often seek to find a quick and easy solution to the problem and to close the defect. The tester must question everything and carefully understand any shortcomings.

That is why the difficulties of this work include routine and monotony.

On the other hand, the search for nontrivial problems requires QA specialists to think analytically, and the emergence of new technologies to be ready to study the novelties in the market constantly, increasing their professional value.

At the same time, there are also many areas of testing, both in levels of professionalism, in responsibilities, and in a specific workplace requiring a specific result: from Junior to Lead, from Manual to Automation QA Engineer, from Tester to Quality Assurance Manager and so on.

Where to start

If you choose to test yourself, in addition to the settings described above, you must have a minimal theoretical base. We recommend to start with the basics and read the main books on QA –  «Software testing. Fundamental concepts of business application management» S. Kaner, J. Falka, E.K. Nguyen; “The art of Software Testing” by Glenford J.Meyers.

The next thing you know, English is no lower than B1. The fact is, most testers work on international projects where English is absolutely essential. If you feel the need to refresh your knowledge or to improve your technical vocabulary, sign up for an English language course for testers.

And the most important issue is practical training. The universities won’t make you a tester, so the only real chance of getting the theoretical and practical training you need is to take software testing courses. By the way, it’s the courses that will give you the knowledge and help you find your first job.


After receiving your first tester job, you will qualify as a Junior QA Engineer/Tester (Junior QA Engineer or Junior QA Tester). This position is filled by applicants with little or no experience. In this stage, you mostly will explore software, find bugs and write common documentation: test scenario and test case, bug reports.

The responsibilities of the junior QA specialist include manual testing of finished scripts and writing basic test cases. All work is supervised by more experienced specialists. In the USA, Junior Quality Assurance Specialist’s salary starting average salary is on average about $54,000 per year, and after a year of work, quality assurance salary strives for $60,000+ per year.


After 2-3 years of work, you will most likely get a promotion to become Middle QA Engineer/Tester. At this stage, you will be expected to write your own test scripts, design technical documentation, and some knowledge of automated testing. In addition, understanding the code and knowledge of technologies such as ASP.NET, the Scrum methodology, will be required. The average wage for a QA Tester salary is $62,000-78,000 per year.


When you have accumulated 3-4 years of work, you can apply for the position of senior testing specialist (Senior QA Engineer/Tester). The range of tasks of the signor expands to include planning of testing processes, supervision of work of junior specialists. Improving test skills is possible due to pass quality assurance certification or special courses for QAs. In the USA, the average senior QA engineer salaries about  $80,000-95,000 per year.


With more than 5 years of professional experience, you can become a leading testing specialist (Lead Software Testing Specialist). At this level, you are required to have professional competencies, including risk analysis, project time and budget estimation, determination of the field of testing automation, and project management skills. After all, the QA manager coordinates the testing process in small working groups. QA lead salaries are eligible for $100,000/year.

Alternative development paths

The above scenario can be considered a classic linear model of the tester’s career, but in practice, in a particular company, things may be different.

For example, with deep technical knowledge, you can switch from manual to automated testing (The average wage for a QA automation engineer salary is $62,000-78,000 per year). Once you are in the programming languages, you can become a programmer, and if you like to communicate closely with the client, to identify his needs and requirements for the future product – in business analysts or quality assurance analyst. With a lot of experience, you can also develop as a manager or share your knowledge in specialized courses, combining teaching with the main activity.

Whatever career model you choose, remember, first of all, it is important to sharpen your skills in research testing, reporting, providing feedback, communicating with colleagues and product owners. They will provide a solid foundation for career development.