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Top Hard Skills for Quality Assurance Engineers

A sought-after QA engineer has to deal with modern application architectures that resemble a layer cake. And the number of layers varies depending on app functionality and how a current team decides to implement it.

What skills do you need for QA projects? I have already shared with you the top soft skills for quality assurance. Let's move on to hard competencies.

QA
By Dzmitry Seachouk, Senior Manual QA Engineer at Solvd
June 18, 2021
As I said, a professional needs to familiarize with app architecture that may work separately and as an integrated whole. Otherwise, a QA engineer won't be able to conduct comprehensive testing.

I will go over the vital hard skills of QAs using a 3-tier architecture model as an example. This case is pretty simple and involves testing a presentation layer, data processing, and data access.

If you are looking for brilliant engineers to hire, read this article to learn what quality assurance hard skills candidates should possess.
Quality Assurance Skills List for Testing Presentation Layer: 5 Pillars
A poor user experience may cost you new customers discouraged to interact with your web or mobile application. Presentation-layer testing allows you to find front-end defects in the graphical user interface (GUI) and fix them on time.

When testing a presentation tier, a professional QA engineer cannot do without the following:

  • Knowing guidelines of platforms and client companies

  • Keeping up with the latest tendencies of GUI

  • Understanding how to build a website structure, HTML/CS, and the basics of JavaScript

  • Experience working with multiple browsers and devices

  • Understanding Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) processes

Mastering all those skills is vital for a high-quality QA specialist, but why?

A GUI testing process determines must-have skills and competencies since a QA engineer has to resolve a range of specific tasks:

  • Verify the structure of a system elements

  • Check compliance with platform guidelines

  • Approve page layout and how it is displayed on different devices with different settings

  • Ensure compliance with approved design and requirements

  • Analyze interface usability

  • Run localization testing

  • Run A/B testing

You could handle those tasks using test cases written based on an approved page design and updated requirements. I have practical tips for you in my article on how to write test cases that will work for you.

To write simple automation scripts for presentation layer testing, I recommend using recorders, such as Katalon, TestCraft, and TestingWhiz. Each option has a GUI, supports creating scripts in real-time, and allows you to dive into the code and familiarize yourself with automation.

Using recorders, you may build sequences of user actions as a script, similar to how you would create macros in MS Word applications or actions in Adobe Photoshop. You may reproduce these scripts later.

But there are more complicated tasks around the corner. A professional QA engineer has to master skills specific to object-oriented programming. So your basic set of skills should involve Java, C, or Python along with a variety of frameworks, including Appium, Selenide, TestNG, Maven, Zebrunner, or others.
5 Quality Assurance Skills Needed for Testing API and Microservices
What are quality assurance skills that are paramount for testing those components?

  • Understanding how all the applications components work together and separately, knowing REST and SOAP

  • Understanding the basics of object-oriented programming and scripting languages

  • Experience working with programs to conduct API audit

  • Understanding the specifics of working with service in a sandbox mode

  • In-depth knowledge of testing methods and cases of their implementation

Manual QA engineers would take a black-box approach to check the quality of data processing modules. They focus on verifying if all the modules, including server, database, and services, work correctly. The data and specifications they receive in task documentation are all they have as input. And they use that input to estimate testing results.

Black box testing allows QA specialists to review an application from the perspective of an average user. But sometimes, diving into details is essential.

You may need to scrutinize a source code to trace a bug to its root cause. White box and grey box methods allow you to delve into parts of a source code. By taking those approaches, you may reduce testing and debugging time if your coding skills and knowledge of object-oriented programming permit.

How could white or grey box testing change the game?

For instance, you need to test a data entry field by using black box testing. You would draw up a matrix of possible input options, both correct and incorrect, and you would check that matrix as soon as a build is complete.

Too long to wait? You may employ a grey box testing method. It permits you to narrow down the number of input options, depending on the variable used in the code – int, double, or others in Java. Besides, you can check if there is a bug handling block before a build starts. By doing so, you would save time fixing bugs, conducting acceptance testing, and complete regressions.

And what about testing API and microservices?

To verify APIs, professional quality assurance and testing engineers should understand REST and SOAP that power the mechanics of modern applications. Besides, they need to know the pros and cons of data sharing formats, like JSON and XML, and transfer protocols, like HTTP and HTTPS.

If you need to test a microservice, you should focus on studying documentation carefully. Before testing, I strongly recommend that you read through technical data on the developer's website to identify service specifics. Examine how technology is implemented in reality and don't rely on theoretical knowledge.
Top 3 Skills for Quality Assurance Specialists in Database Testing
If you wish to hire QA engineers or you are on your way to becoming a QA professional in database testing, these skills are just what you need:

  • Principle of application components working together

  • Types and models of database management systems and principles of building and employing a database

  • Main commands and who to apply them working with SQL

How could that help you? Basically, you have to run black box testing when your task is to test parameters in a database. Those parameters get displayed on a GUI or in a query/response body.

For example, your challenge is to test a database of users' emails. You may need to make sure that a form for adding emails works correctly and saves email data at the pre-launch stage.

Test system functionality to detect and fix system errors that may occur while adding a new entity or other data through a user interface.

Use visual database design tools, such as Workbench or PostgreSQL, and check if data input and data availability work smoothly.

You may also test the work of data entry and data output by using CRUD, although that would require some training or previous experience.
Conclusion
Top quality assurance engineers need to keep pace with modern technologies and methodologies. You need to develop a skill set that is critical, necessary, and highly marketable. That would make you an invaluable part of practically any QA team.

Remember not to leave quality assurance skills for resumes solely – you have to truly develop them. Having a qualitative focus on hard skills may allow you to spot opportunities to build a sustainable career in the QA field.