Alex Staff Agency
QA Today
How to become a sought-after QA-engineer and what salary to expect
We almost always have vacancies in the QA field. Right now, for example, we have 18 open positions for which we can hire up to 29 people (since some positions can be filled by two or more applicants). Salaries and demands in these positions are constantly increasing.

In this article we tell how the role and portrait of a "typical" tester have changed, what salaries can be applied for immediately after the courses and with 3-5 years of experience, as well as the most promising areas for the development of QA-engineers to increase their salary.
The role of the QA Specialist: more than reviewing

Testing is an important part of the software development process, and no product can be created without it. Every project that creates technical solutions needs QA experts who will not only do manual testing, but also write autotests, fix potential bugs and vulnerabilities before the product goes to market, and more. You can't do it without them.

According to research by A1QA, the largest provider of QA-services in Central and Eastern Europe, over the past year, user behavior has changed. A large number of products in almost any category has led to a more careful selection of products. This largely determined the direction of software development and, as a consequence, testing.

Nowadays, more and more companies are moving away from the traditional waterfall model to agile Agile and DevOps methodologies. Businesses are striving to reduce time-to-market for a planned product and improve its quality. This is what dictates the trend of merging QA and development processes. That said, 42% of organizations surveyed in World Quality Report 2020-2021 noted that there is a competency gap in QA teams adopting agile approaches. 58% of IT business representatives identified the choice of test automation tools as a key problem. That is, there is some break between the business process and the technological readiness of specific people in that business.

Initially, the testers were the reviewers. They did the tests, gave the developers a report, and that was the end of their role. Now we are watching the sophistication and qualitative development of this role. Nowadays, QA engineers often do more than just write tests and perform them. They evaluate the usability of the product, not only whether everything works, but also how user-friendly it is. Not only fix bugs but make suggestions for improving the product.

In brief, the change in the role of testing professionals is dictated by:
  • widespread automation of software testing, improving methods of test data management
  • partially merging development and testing processes to improve usability and troubleshoot defects at an early stage of product development
  • the active transition of software companies from the waterfall business model to Agile and DevOps methodologies



Changing market for hiring QA specialists

According to salary surveys conducted by Habr.com, salaries in the QA field increased in the first six months of 2021 by an average of 6% nationally compared to the same period last year. At the same time in St. Petersburg the growth was 17.6% and in the regions 7.7%. The low overall 6% was due to the lack of growth in median salary in Moscow.

But Habr.com relies on data from the Russian market, and domestic experts. Our practice is global and based on vacancies in foreign companies from Europe and the United States.

We note:
  • At the beginning of 2020, the average salary of a QA-engineer in the EU was 2200-2500 euros
  • After the resumption of active hiring by our customers (May-June 2020), requirements for the level of knowledge of automation tools, technological background (familiarity with programming languages, frameworks, general programming principles) have increased dramatically
  • Requirements for knowledge of the English language have increased since testers no longer only test, and give full feedback on the product and participate in the process of finalizing the software, they should participate in active communication in the language of the team
  • Since the end of 2020, both salary expectations and initial salary offers from employers which are declared in vacancies have steadily increased: about +25-30% over the figures from the beginning of last year
  • Today, the average salary for Automation QA positions is 3,000-3,300 euros, and for manual QA positions it is 2,300-2,600 euros

However, we would like to point out that we work primarily with candidates who have 3-4 years of testing experience. That is, the salary numbers above are fair for applicants at the middle+/senior level.

As promised at the beginning of this article, we examined the data on the salaries of juniors. We advise you to choose companies with large testing departments so you will immediately have a clear and inevitable growth prospect. If you know English well, try to get a remote job in a foreign/international company. This is a useful point on any CV and experience with modern technology in products.

On the largest Russian portal, hh.ru software testers without experience can apply for an average salary of 35-45 thousand rubles (400-500 euros), and if we look separately in Moscow, it is possible to look for offers of 50 thousand (580 euros).

Meanwhile, courses that work under the model of ISA (income share agreement), when you first study a profession and then share with the "mentor" a percentage of the income, promise a salary of 50-60 thousand rubles (600-700 euros). In our experience, this is a realistic figure for European remote companies. Also, this salary may be offered to a specialist with little experience in testing, provided that he has something to offer — knowledge of the language, business processes, basic programming, and so on.

We would also like to note that there is a perception that testing, as well as development, coding is a purely masculine business, and also requires a mandatory technical education and non-humanitarian mindset. However, more and more often female testers are appearing among applicants, who are equally in demand by both Russian and foreign companies.



Where a QA-engineer can develop

We are based on current job openings, as well as extensive experience with technological companies. This allows us to accurately understand the needs of the market and the direction of your growth if you want to become a successful testing engineer and earn 3-4 thousand euros in the next year (or earlier, depending on your current level of competence).

To raise your salary level as a tester, you have to:
  • Constantly improve and broaden your technical horizons (knowledge of Selenium alone won’t help you)
  • Regularly monitor testing trends, new frameworks, etc
  • Study usability, UI/UX to contribute more to the final look and functionality of products, as it plays an increasingly important role, which means you can be ahead of your peers if you can look at the product as a user
  • Develop the soft skills that set you apart from other candidates teamwork, delegation, transferring tasks, explaining, and so on
  • Learn more advanced technologies that will allow you to become more specialized, but also more valuable in the marketplace. There are a growing number of offers for Mobile QA Engineer, QA Data specialists who understand mobile app testing and Data technology respectively

Separately, let us focus on the most promising programming languages for the study of testers:
  • Python — as one of the most fast-growing, it is convenient, simple, and functional, besides this language is used to work with big data, which is only increasing its presence in projects
  • Java — a lot has already been written in it, Selenium is extremely popular, which means there is enough work for a lot of people
  • JavaScript and C# are each in a different field, but they are extremely popular languages in technology products in general and in testing in particular. And a large amount of already written code guarantees a stable demand for its testing, support, and improvement for the foreseeable future
This is data from our customers and our practice, confirmed also by the largest software testing company TestMatick.
Although Java is a testing classic, because the language is very loaded and complicated, many modern companies are now moving away from it. However, it is universally used in large banks, if candidates want to work in this sector, it is impossible to do without Java. According to the practice of young, actively developing projects, the most in-demand languages are Python/JS, and the most unclaimed is Ruby.
Ekaterina Yagodkina
Account manager for QA
In conclusion, we can't help but mention the fact that if you want to find a good job in testing, you should take care not only about your knowledge and experience but also about your story:
  • Make a CV and make sure that it reflects your strengths and there are no logical inconsistencies
  • Write several cover letters, and write separate ones for the most interesting jobs
  • Prepare for interviews if you're applying for a position that you're objectively a little short of — prepare yourself like a student for an exam after skipping an entire semester. Revise basics, terms, refresh the information on technology and your projects
  • Don't underestimate softskills questions: how do you feel about criticism, are you more comfortable working solo or in a team, do you want to lead, when you want to grow. You have to be prepared for these questions ahead of time, as a rule, candidates take a very long time to think — and with this type of question, it goes to a disadvantage


Don't stop improving in your profession and let your dream job always be yours! And you can see the open positions here.
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