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Need to know: Is demand for software QA jobs increasing?

Demand for software QA experts is high and seems to be growing. Expert Amy Reichert explains why now is a great time to polish all of your testing skills.

Are software QA jobs in heavy demand? It's honestly hard to tell. I'm personally leaning, and not because I make a living doing it, towards a resurgence rather than a decline. In recent years, the advent of mobile applications has overwhelmed existing QA departments and software development budgets. QA testing may have been skipped completely because there is simply too much to cover. Customers end up holding the defect bag, and many have not been happy about it. Also, for many companies, their attempts at automating test cases using GUI interface products has left a sour aftertaste due to their fragile nature and need for constant maintenance. 

In the past year or two, there's been a shift in software QA jobs. Many software application development shops are hiring manual testers to supplement their automated testing. Manual testers are in demand, but automation coding skills are also becoming more crucial. Perhaps it's the Agile momentum where collaborative work styles are merging QA and development work? Many teams realize automation development is more efficiently done by people who can code. It may also be as simple as companies wanting to do more with less and this is one way to accomplish that goal. 

As a QA, it's important to develop both manual and automated scripting skills. The problem is you need to keep using the coding skills, or they won't last long. If you don't continuously code automated tests, or the code base always changes, it's difficult to keep up. 

Manual skills are enhanced by focus and creativity. Manual testing is a skill you either have or you don't. It can be tedious repeatedly going through what you imagine are variations of customer workflows. It requires the ability to focus and be creative.   

I've noticed a trend as well where customer groups are hiring more manual testers than the software vendors. Personally, I've found myself on the software vendor end outnumbered 9 to 1. I'm certain that's a reflection on quality and trust, or it may be the reality of customers not being able to get enough end users to test deep enough, and do their "real" job, before a product is accepted. I like it. It's a great idea, especially in industries with heavy regulatory testing requirements or complex integrated messaging systems. The QA profession is in the midst of a resurgence. It's a good thing, all around, enjoy those software QA jobs and prosper.

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Why is now a great time to be in the quality assurance field?
I think Microsoft should be the one looking hire as many as possible.. It may help cut down on all the patching the end user needs to do..
You never see video games have this many patches, it may be due to beta testing that helps resolve lot of them. The also want to protect the brand name. I think this is something Microsoft has lost interest in. They think they are to big to fail.
You can also attribute this to...
1. The slow growth of BDD/TDD in companies as the practice is becoming...
2. More TDD integrated into compilers with add-ons like Spec Flow
3. More common as the concept of automation-first testing is bring disproven across the board
4. A vacuum of available expert manual testers as the rise of automation-first QA cut a vast swath of good QA workers out of the market and sent them either into PM or Dev jobs
Amy- Are you of the opinion that Manual testers with automation skills will be in demand in the future? If so I agree with your views. A few people are predicting that in the future, the developers will do all the testing...
I will add this after reading the last post. After coding for 30+ years, I have never worked for a company with a QA staff. We all tested our own code and were responsible for it. If it was a major task that was spread over a wide range off applications we may have had a fellow developer help us test it out...Guess I never had the luxury or companies did not want a dedicated QA staff.

I think QA testers will need to know both manual and automated techniques, which one you use may be governed by the size and complexity of the organization you work for - or how much work there is.  The problem I see with QA testers with coding skills, is they'll get pulled in to do development work instead and the testing will not get done.  Although I've worked as a QA in places with very few testers, I've never worked in an environment with zero testing.  Which isn't to say developers aren't capable of testing, but I think the work of creating "new" will overtake the need for testing and again, the testing doesn't get done in lieu of "new" enhancements.

From my personal observations, software QA jobs are increasing, but not at quite the rate of software development jobs. There are definitely opportunities to be had for anyone interesting in going into QA.