8 de noviembre 2023

Evolution of Titles in Testing and Quality Roles

6 minutos de lectura

In the dynamic world of technology and development, roles related to testing and quality assurance are not just undergoing a radical transformation, but also witnessing the emergence of new job titles to describe, in many cases, the same responsibilities. In some instances, the change in context necessitates a shift in the job titles, leading to what can be termed as “title inflation” in the job market. In this blog post, we delve into the fascinating journey of how job titles in testing and quality assurance have evolved, exploring beyond the labels to understand the real responsibilities they entail.

New position titles are coming out all the time to describe, in many cases, the same responsibilities.

Decoding the Title Hype
If we navigate any professional social network such as LinkedIn or Xing and perform a quick search for terms like Testing or Quality in the jobs category, we’ll find a excess of different job titles, ranging from QA, QA Tester, QA Test Engineer, QA Specialist, and their variations of Senior/Middle/Junior, to more exotic titles like Bug-Hunter. This diversity stems from the need for differentiation; companies, including ourselves, seek ways to stand out from the rest. In the realm of professional social networks, the first distinguishing factor often becomes the job title.

However, upon closer inspection, these titles can be grouped into six main categories (excluding Leads/Managers, which deserve a separate discussion in our blog), as frequently observed in the aforementioned searches. Let’s explore these categories below:

  • Tester: The classic role involving manual testing, exploratory testing, and the design and execution of test plans. While not necessarily a technical role, testers usually possess basic technological knowledge. It serves as the gateway to the world of testing and quality assurance. Many quality experts with years of experience started their careers in this role.
  • Test Engineer: This role represents the technical evolution of the Tester. In addition to the aforementioned responsibilities, a Test Engineer possesses deeper technical knowledge and can comprehend and analyze complex systems, especially in environments involving both hardware and software integration. While not highly standardized in purely software systems, this role is more prevalent in products combining hardware and software. There is also a variant known as Test Automation Engineer.
  • Quality Assurance Engineer: Considered the crown jewel, this role focuses not only on executing and designing tests but also on preventing defects rather than merely detecting them. Quality Assurance Engineers implement “quality gates,” controls during software development that help identify problems at an early stage. From a technical perspective, this position is challenging to define: as the name suggests, it requires a technical background. However, many companies label individuals in this role as engineers, even if they lack formal engineering degrees. This does not diminish the fact that they possess strong technical knowledge and are deserving of the role. Some outstanding developers I’ve had the pleasure of working with did not hold technical degrees but excelled in this capacity nonetheless.
  • Quality Assurance Automation Engineer: This role represents the technical evolution of the Quality Assurance Engineer. These professionals not only design and execute tests but also automate them. They understand the technical implications of each type of test and the platform on which these tests are developed and run.
  • SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test): This term was originally coined by Microsoft and later adopted by Google with the aim of replacing manual and repetitive testing tasks with automation. While not widely used in Spain, some companies do employ this title. It’s a hybrid position with a technical aspect superior to that of QA Automation Engineers. SDETs must possess strong technical knowledge in development as well as expertise in testing and quality assurance. Generally, they are developers who have transitioned into the fascinating world of QA. However, there are also QA Automation Engineers who have evolved into this role.
  • Quality Assistance / Advisor / Mentor / Coach: The newest entrants in our view, represent the way forward. In modern development models, the concept of “quality is everyone’s responsibility” is emphasized. With this paradigm shift, the classic QA/tester role must evolve into an advisory/mentoring/coaching role. It is no longer strictly a hands-on position (although it can still be), but rather a role that educates and guides product and development teams on quality-related matters. Moreover, their sphere of influence must be broader. It’s no longer sufficient to have knowledge of the traditional quality context or tests; one must understand the global context (technical and business) and think about other types of tests that contribute to delivering high-quality products, such as load, performance, and security tests.

Today's roles should no longer just about running tests

Conclusion: Embracing Evolution
Beyond the titles and extravagant labels, what truly matters in the realm of testing and quality assurance is the ability to adapt and evolve. The real distinction lies in understanding the complete context and adapting to change. As explained, the roles today are not confined to executing tests; they involve being a guide, an innovator, and a champion of quality in all aspects of software development. Therefore, regardless of the title one holds, it is crucial to remember that our role is fundamental in creating reliable and high-quality products on this exciting technological journey. Embrace the evolution and make a difference in shaping the future of software quality.


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