Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers play a crucial role at tech companies. After all, they work to make sure that an end-product actually does what clients want it to do. They also check that the software involved follows the established procedures. In short, as the job title suggests, they ensure that the product meets quality standards and requirements.
Tech companies need QA Engineers, namely Software QA Engineers, to maintain a program’s quality. It’s no wonder, then, that QA Engineers have relatively high salaries. According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a QA Engineer in the U.S. is $104,148.
Of course, an individual’s salary will vary, based on factors like location and experience.
Factors for determining QA Engineer salary
A lot goes into determining what you’ll make as a QA Engineer. Let’s take a look at the most important factors.
As is the case for many other professions, education plays a big role in dictating your salary as a QA Engineer. Employers like to see that you have a degree, certificate, or that you’ve taken some relevant courses — whether it be from a university, boot camp, or online. Why? Well, education shows your employer that you’ve put in the time and effort to learn skills important to the job.
Having experience with software is one of the most important aspects of this position’s salary prospects. Experience can include using dedicated software testing (automation testing) and having the programming skills to test software on your own (manual testing).
QA professionals in the tech industry should understand programming languages, operating systems, and computer hardware and software. The programming languages QA Engineers use the most are Java, C, C++, Python, and SQL.
QA Engineers are often on software development teams. Their role in the development process is to stress-test products (i.e., testing how an app performs when put under conditions beyond the expected limits of operation). In addition, they provide advice on how to make products better, so knowledge of information technology is beneficial for any QA Engineer to have.
If you have quality assurance experience outside of the tech industry, that can also help in your job search — but technical skills are still a must.
Your salary will also vary according to where you live. According to Ziprecruiter, the average highest annual salary per location in the United States for a QA Engineer is in San Mateo ($108,978). Here’s the breakdown of the cities with the highest annual salary averages for this role.
- San Mateo, CA: $108,978
- Green River, WY: $102, 672
- Richmond, CA: $101,498
- Stamford, CT: $100,263
- Bellevue, WA: $99,810
- Brooklyn, NY: $99,421
- Belgrade, MT: $99,195
- Santa Clara, CA: $98,249
- New Haven, CT: $97,249
- Brockton, MA: $96,815
QA Engineer salary by experience level
Job titles generally remain the same throughout the career path for a QA Engineer. However, sometimes you will see variations on the title, like Software Tester, IT QA, and so on. These roles are more or less the same.
Leveling up as a QA Engineer comes down to seniority. After gaining more experience, someone hired as an entry-level QA could progress to associate, senior, or lead QA Engineering levels.
It is important to remember that experience level depends on time, as in your time spent learning about QA (i.e. education) or the amount of time spent in a position related to product QA. Therefore, the more experience you have in applicable areas of QA, the more you can showcase your skills to potential employers, and the more likely it is that your pay will increase.
Glassdoor reports an entry-level QA engineer's average salary at $97,782 USD per year. Starting at entry-level means making less than what mid-level and late-career QA Engineers are earning, but getting hired into the industry early on your career has its benefits.
QA Engineering is a great career path, because you will work in a field where you can learn more about overall software development, which offers many long-term professional paths forward. Eventually, if you are inclined to do so (and have acquired enough experience), you could make the jump to a position like Software Developer or Software Engineer. For example, in our forums, Pablo (@peachesmotorsports) described his path transitioning from QA Engineer to Software Engineer Manager, and gave advice for others looking to do the same.
The average yearly pay of mid-level QA Engineers is around $107,360 (per Glassdoor).
A mid-level QA engineer's responsibilities will require more manual testing capabilities than an entry-level role, meaning you’ll have to know the nitty-gritty of manually testing software for defects. To do so, you’ll need to have knowledge of SQL and defect tracking tools, experience working in Agile environments, and knowledge of automation frameworks. The better your toolkit is for different types of software-testing (and overall product quality assurance), the better you can leverage your salary.
Late-career to experienced QA Engineers are paid around $127,611 per year (Glassdoor). Once you land a position in the entry level of the field, it can take 10-20 years to get to the senior or late-career level, but it can pay off.
Your QA Engineer career path
Overall, QA professionals tend to have relatively high salaries. If you’re looking for a job where you’d be an essential part of the tech industry and be able to grow your career throughout the years, you might be interested in quality assurance. Here are some courses you can take to get started:
- Learn Testing for Web Development
- Learn Java
- Learn C
- Learn C++
- Learn Python 3
- Learn SQL
Once you are in a QA role, you are in a great position to learn more about software engineering. From there, you have the flexibility to either expand your career path in QA or explore other avenues in tech.
If you’re interested in becoming a QA Engineer, take a look at the above courses, as well as other programming languages in our course catalog.