The Life of a QA Engineer: a Typical Day at Work
People often wonder what the daily life of a QA Engineer looks like and are surprised to hear that it’s actually quite similar to the life of many other software engineers! So what does the day of a QA Engineer look like? In this article, we’ll go over everything from our daily wake-up routine to the last thing we do before bed, so you can see what your typical day in this career would be like!
Prepare for the day: scrum meeting
This is the first meeting that happens daily. Usually, it is planned at around 9 or 10 am, and rarely later than that. Basically, this meeting is your direction for the day, so never miss it!
So, what is a daily scrum meeting, anyway? Here is a quick introduction to help you understand. Stand-up meetings are becoming more popular and are now an essential part of Agile. Ideally, they’re short meetings where you share your accomplishments from yesterday and inform everyone about what you’ll be working on today. You also mention if there is anything you are blocked on and, if so, what is needed to unblock you for a particular task. This is a common issue in a cross-team environment where many moving parts depend on other people. For example, you may not be able to test a particular feature because you are expecting a fix for the bug that you have already filed. That means you are blocked and someone needs to unblock you by deploying a fixed version of the software.
In Agile development, there’s a daily stand-up meeting (typically in person), but any method that suits your team is fine. Before these meetings, it’s helpful to prepare by taking note of your tasks for each project that needs completing that day. If possible, try to estimate how long each task will take so you can give an estimate at each meeting. This is often referred to as velocity; it helps establish patterns that enable estimates at future meetings. The goal here is to reduce last-minute scrambling and stress while increasing productivity during those precious work hours before lunch!
Do another round of testing
This is called regression testing. Usually, in the morning you get a new build deployed to your test environment. This means that you have to test the fixes which come with it and discover more bugs. When we do regressions, we also perform a smoke test. During that test round, we have to ensure that the main functionality is still working as expected in a few software versions.
Maybe that sounds like common sense, but let me explain. When you think something is done, don’t just sit there and stare at it. Run more tests to find any errors or flaws and fix them right away. Don’t sit on your hands and hope everything turns out fine; test again immediately to make sure that nothing was overlooked! Just remember, each bug fix can produce more bugs, and your job is to discover those during your rounds of regression testing.
Look at bugs in the tracker
Trackers are one of your most important tools as a software tester. They let you assign problems to team members, track their progress, and provide documentation on how to reproduce bugs. Most teams use some sort of tracking tool — make sure you know what they are and how to use them. If you aren’t using one, your project manager or development manager should be able to help you find what you need. Trackers may be online or offline, depending on your environment and which is more useful for your project or company. See if others in your company have sample trackers that can help get you started, or check out bug-tracking tools like Bugzilla for an open-source example.
Generally, when you start your day, you check for updates in your bug-tracking tool. You’ll be able to see what bugs have been recently updated, perhaps with information about potential solutions or status changes from other team members. If there are any bugs that you haven’t looked at yet, review them before moving on to anything else. Before spending time on one issue in particular, try to make sure everyone else is up to speed with what you’re doing — this way everyone stays current and can work together more easily. Consider using email or chat channels for easy communication, or you can simply walk over to your coworker and solve any issues that you may be having.
Take a break
Though Software QA Engineers deal with computers all day, this does not mean they never eat or spend time on personal needs. In fact, the opposite is true. You must give yourself a minimum of one good hour for lunch, take a walk outside of your office, or even take a nap in your car. Many people do sleep in their car for lunch, in fact! Whatever you choose to do — eat, walk or sleep — is your choice. It is essential to take a break in the middle of the day to get rest and reset your mind, get some fresh air, and exercise.
Create test cases
We write test cases all the time. Some of them cover new functionality, and some are added to the test coverage after the bug was already found. This process is ongoing and usually takes a good amount of our daily time.
When new functionality is built, developers often don’t realize all the possible scenarios in which it could break. It’s up to QA Engineers to create test cases that seek out these potential faults. For example, If your company works on software with security concerns, like email or banking applications, you might need to perform penetration testing. This means looking for any weakness that could give someone access to private information or threaten its integrity (think DDoS attacks and data corruption). Penetration tests can also focus on specific functionality, like how easily users can reset their passwords, or check if physical and cyber safety precautions are taken during distribution (like encryption and shipping route encryption).
Test cases vary greatly depending on what your company develops — what part of your product needs extra attention?
Work on difficult or outstanding issues
The feeling of overcoming difficult obstacles at work can actually be quite rewarding. Some days, you’ll feel like you have it all figured out, while other days will have your team scratching their heads. Luckily, all these different types of experiences contribute to your personal and professional growth. When you finish each day, reflect on how you can improve yourself and how you can help your company reach its goal. As long as there is something else to learn or do, take that as an opportunity to get better!
Working on issues that need more time and dedication can include complex troubleshooting, multi-level debugging and issues that are not critical but are important for the overall product quality. So, if you have time after you are done with regular activities and all the meetings that you had during the day, this is your chance to stretch yourself a little!
Go home to rest!
In between tasks, meetings, and bugs, your work time flies very fast. Often, you will catch yourself keeping working when it’s time to go home! Make sure you set an alarm or use some other way to remind yourself that it’s “quitting time.” Usually, by the end of the day, you feel accomplished and happy with your progress. This is a good feeling that drives us forward! Keep up your good work every day and reward yourself at night with a good dinner, a fun date, or a casual evening with friends!