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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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