You may notice that most software testing job postings are for QA Analyst or QA Engineer. There are other software testing job titles out there, but these two are the most common. So what’s the difference between a software QA Analyst vs. QA Engineer?
The truth is that there’s no evergreen definition of the differences between a QA Analyst and a QA Engineer. Sure, you might find articles with well-thought out details for each position. However, in real workplaces, the reality can be quite different. Read on for the standard definitions for each, as well as what you can expect (or not expect) on a more practical level.
QA Analyst Job Description
- Writing test cases (or using test cases written by others)
- Manually testing software
- Reporting bugs
- Identifying user experience issues
- Collaborating with developers and project managers (often in an Agile QA process)
- Providing QA estimates to help the team plan out release timelines
QA Engineer Job Description
The title of “QA Engineer” can be more vague than that of “Analyst.” While the word “engineer” may bring to mind the idea of a programmer, many manual QA testers hold this job title.
However, going with a more by-the-book definition, a QA Engineer does automated testing. These are some of the tasks to expect in the automated tester role:
- Writing test cases (or using test cases created by manual QA)
- Creating automated test scripts for an app or website using a programming language (like Java)
- Integrating automated scripts into the build release process
- Creating technical bug reports
- Maintaining existing automation framework
- API testing (manual or automated)
- Performance testing (manual or automated)
What’s the Difference Between a QA Analyst vs. QA Engineer?
Although the job descriptions above may sound quite different, many companies use “QA Engineer” interchangeably with “QA Analyst.” In fact, even a title of Senior QA Engineer can be given to software testers that do 100% manual QA. Notably, the reverse is not true – the Analyst job title is rarely used for automated testing positions.
When looking at the definitions above, this disparity may not make sense. But it’s helpful to know the on-the-ground reality in the workplace, so you can make informed career decisions.
Which Job Title is Better?
Neither position is inherently better or more important than the other. They provide different aspects of software quality assurance, but both are essential to a good QA strategy.
However, when it comes to the titles themselves, “QA Engineer” is a better title to have than “QA Analyst.” The analyst job title is sometimes associated with more junior positions (despite not always being the case). If you can have a choice of your resume showing QA Analyst or QA Engineer, the latter will be a better boost for your QA career – even if the listed job duties are identical.
Which is Easier to Get Into?
When searching for your first QA job, it’s almost always easier to get a QA Analyst position. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for a QA Engineer position if you have the required skills. But without much experience, it will be easier to get your foot in the door under the Analyst title.
Which Job Pays More?
Although there are occasional discrepancies, as a general rule, QA Engineer positions pay higher salaries than QA Analyst roles.
Which Has More Job Stability?
QA Engineer jobs are growing at a higher rate, while manual QA Analyst jobs have been (relatively unfairly) trending towards being seen as less valuable.
What Personality Traits Are Better for Each?
The QA Engineer role would be a great fit for you if you have these traits:
- Math-based brain
- Interest in programming
- Passion for working out complex issues
- Perseverance for conquering challenges
On the other hand, you might be the ideal QA Analyst with these traits:
- Creativity-based brain
- Interest in investigating details
- Passion for finding ways to improve user experience
- Ability to buckle down and power through rote work
QA Analyst vs. QA Engineer
“QA Analyst” and “QA Engineer” don’t always have consistent interpretations in practice. But now you know the official definitions, and the benefits of both.
Looking to hire a QA Analyst or QA Engineer for your software? Check out our QA testing services.