Good QA, bad QA

What does it mean in 2017 being a good QA? Is it necessary to obtain 6 years of professional education or only good skill-set matters? Is it necessary to constantly learn new technologies or it is enough learning only one and work in particular niche?

From my short experience as Quality Assurance engineer I picked up one very important rule: if your QA boss is far from understanding of basic automation/coding knowledge, you are screwed regardless your skills. At early stages of my career in IT I’ve changed couple of companies. At that time I learned automation, explored how apps worked on the front end and backend, discovered possible and typical vulnerabilities leading to bugs appearance and so on. I progressed rather fast. During 1,5 years of being a QA I’ve learned Selenium testing frameworks in Javascript, Python and Ruby, API testing tools, learned Rails, and even started building my own app as a side project.

I considered myself at least being a good QA/QA engineer, but when I started searching for a new job, many companies didn’t even consider me as an acceptable candidate because of my short work experience in the sphere. At the same time, all my QA bosses (who have been in the sphere for years and were considered to be super skilled and knowing) had only theoretical knowledge about testing and automation. They hardly tested the products, didn’t know what skills and processes are vital for test automation, couldn’t read the code and screwed up everything. These people were setting up some out-of-touch processes and it was their highest achievement as QA leaders.

So what does it mean being a good QA, considering that technologies/approaches/frameworks/tools rapidly change, people launching missions to the Moon/Mars/TRAPPIST and back, and apps becoming serverless? How to survive in this whirl of changes and remain afloat?

Unfortunately, bureaucracy in the 21st century is something we haven’t yet defeated, that’s why so many ridiculous imbalanced situations might take place. However, more and more talent acquisitors and non-HR related people start giving a chance to such people as myself.

To answer the question of skills, my whole experience shows that education doesn’t mean THAT much today, because even having an education, you might be lacking knowledge, motivation etc. A school would not teach you being a good developer/QA, because this is what every person should learn themselves. Constant learning makes yourself a good QA.

Moreover, it’s necessary to try different technologies all the time, because you must constantly progress. Forget about your work-life balance, learn after work and on weekends, start your side projects and develop them. And when during your next QA interview a developer asks you to solve an algorithm puzzle on spot, you will be able to do it even with your eyes closed (even though QA’s main purpose is testing, not solving math/algorithm exercises).