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I'm doing QA since a while now and I am content with my job. However one thing I'm not so sure about is the value of being QA. The reason why I am asking this is because I see far more developers being employed than testers are. At least in my company I am the only one, who is doing QA and we are consisting of >10 employees.

By any means I don't say or otherwise imply, that testers aren't needed. For what I know basically developers and QA have the same goal but their duties to achieve that goal differs but it works in a ying-yang methodology. One doesn't really work without the other.

My question is more like (1) are QA valued in today's times as much as developers are in companies or why are QA not so much demanded as developers are? Or am I not seeing the actual value of being QA? Sure, one QA candidate can cover multiple developers but that's beside the point.

(2) Also is it better to be QA or Developer or are both positions similar but dependent on personal preferences?

(3) And how about the prestigious perspective of both positions? Are they similar or is one advantaged over the other?

I would really appreciate detailed answers.

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    It seems that in a single question; you have tried to ask multiple questions. And to clear yours above all points- you must need to understand the exact role of QA & Developer. Where you found that- why are QA not so much demanded as developers are? I totally disagree with this point. 2nd Point- is it better to be QA or Developer: It depends up on your interest; – Bharat Mane Sep 14 '17 at 14:32
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    I don't have the time but it seems like this could be edited to a decent question more about whether a QA career is still going to be relevant in the near future. I wonder if some of this question is being motivated by all the talk of "shift-left" and many companies choosing to "crowdsource" their testing by releasing more frequently so they can fix bugs as user find them. But that's speculation :) – c32hedge Sep 14 '17 at 19:16
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    IMHO: Don't close this question. Yes, all answers are based on opinion and location, but we are getting similar questions about career in QA weekly (see Related) and this one is better than most. maybe @Unit1 wants to put in some effort to salvage it? – Peter M. - stands for Monica Sep 14 '17 at 19:38
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    I'd suggest to move to development, if you see the current market trend where testing is becoming obsolete, better to move to automation or SDET profile – Pankaj Kumar Katiyar Sep 15 '17 at 9:41
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    Sigh. I've nominated this for reopening. Even without being edited, I think this would fall into the good subjective bucket, and I think the answers so far bear that out. – c32hedge Sep 15 '17 at 14:08
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Note that, by definition, this is going to be opinion based. However, this seems to be a cry for help, or assurance, or something similar, and I don't want to not respond to that.

Short version: it depends on the company, and the industry. There do seem to be some companies that seem fine with letting their clients do all the testing. Some companies prioritize release velocity above all else, and QA "gets in the way." Often, this will continue until things go horribly, horribly wrong, or their clients won't let them get away with shoddy products anymore (often when they have competition), or when they get regulated.

To try to answer your questions:

1) They can be. At some level, developers have to come first; you can have developers without QA people; you can't have QA people without developers. So there's often a perception that developers can do their own QA. And sometimes, they can, depending on the product/usage model/etc. However, they often can't do it very well, for a variety of reasons. QA will be seen as important in companies that, for whatever reason, value reliability/user friendliness/etc. Much more importantly, developers will see QA is important in such places as well. If you're in a company where developers and QA folks are seen as enemies, not collaborators, the experience can be difficult.

2) That's a value judgement, and it depends on the type of testing being done. The closer you are to the internals of the product, the more similar the development and test skill set is going to be. If you're doing white box testing, for example, you need to understand how to program. And some types of testing require programming skills as well, to build test frameworks, or automation, or whatever. Other sorts of testing might just require system skills, or data analysis skills, or so on. In my job, in my opinion, a lot of it depends on what scope of the system you're interested in. The developers I work with are incredibly talented, and they understand their area of expertise incredibly well. So individually, they know things like queue theory, and memory allocation, and machine logic, and assembler programming, much better than I do. However, that's almost all they know. They are very deep, but not very wide. I, however, know all of those things, but nowhere near as deeply as they do. So I see a lot more of the system then they do, and I can work with clients a lot better then they can, in general. If a client has a very specific question about dispatching, they would want to talk to a developer, but if they want general information about to how best run their system, they would talk to me.

3) Again, it's very much company/product based. In my area, both developers and testers have a career path that can take them to the same executive levels. There are more developers then there are testers, but testers are seen as having unique insights at a system level that developers almost never have. When we get awards, testers get them along with developers. And our executives/project planners/etc trust us; if we say something isn't ready, it doesn't ship.

In general, QA is almost always going to be at a disadvantage perceptually, because we're the stop sign. The value we add is by making the product better overall, and if we're doing our jobs well, no one notices, because the problems don't make it to the field for someone to complain about.

  • Thank you so much for your detailed explanation! I appreciated it. I can see now that without developers there isn't a product to be tested but without QA the developers product will result in faulty releases. The difference would be that while one may not work without the other in the opposite case would work but very, very faulty. I can see the value of my position now. – Unit1 Sep 15 '17 at 10:57
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(1a) In my country I believe there is a higher demand for testers if you compare it to the amount of possible candidates. Of course, there will never be more testers than developers, because as you already note one tester should be able to cover a few developers. But if there are 100 available developer jobs and 10 available testing jobs, and 100 available developers and 5 available testers, it is much harder to find a tester even though the numbers could depict otherwise. Of course, this highly depends on country, and maybe even region.

(1b) For me personally I feel that developers are a bit more valued because more people are affected by them. They produce some code which runs in production eventually, and people all around the company and a lot of customers will use it. Thus, value for the developers is given easily from multiple different sources. Testers though will never produce something that people outside of the team will notice. This feels like a skewed validation, but I don't think there is anything we can do about it. In the end I try to feel appreciation when a developers code is appreciated and I know that I tested it very thoroughly and a lot of defects are fixed before it was up and running in production.

(2) In my opinion neither of the positions is "better". They both add value in their own discipline.

(3) I guess that developers get more prestige because their jobs are better known to the average individual, or even to the HR person who wants to hire you at your next company. Also as noted at (1) developers really produce something that other can appreciate, while testers only assure that the quality of such a produced piece of code is up to standards. Of course, you could ask yourself who should get the prestige in the end: the developer who produced code that is not yet up to standards, the tester who found defects so that it will be up to standards after they are fixed, or the developer who fixed those defects? In my opinion there is only one answer: all three of them. But as said earlier: it is hard to give prestige to people who's jobs are hard to notice - especially for outsiders (customers, etc.), as is of testers.

Next to these points, I'd like to add that there are enough real-life examples where thorough testing could have saved people! Of course, most testing jobs cannot save people, but still it depicts the importance of the testing jobs. For the average human incidents like Therac-25 or security problems (like lately with Equifax) are best grabbed if you really want to show off why testing jobs are important.

Also, I believe that we are more and more in a transition into appreciating testing jobs more and more, and I believe that testers will be demanded more and more over the next couple of years, especially if incidents like mentioned above keep happening. Important persons in businesses also note those, and smaller ones in their own company, resulting in them thinking more about the qu

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    That makes perfect sense! Since the developers are producing I as a tester have something to test. Without developers there isn't anything to be tested. Seems only fair. I was especially surprised when you told me about the Therac-25 project. I can see the value of testers now. Thanks for responding :) – Unit1 Sep 15 '17 at 10:51
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It all depends on your local market and your personal skills, but in general:

Developers wold be always rated (slightly) higher, because they generate a billable product (profit center) while QA provide services for it (cost center). Average manager will try to do the least amount of QA work which will satisfy the quality requirements, but not more.

QA automation is great start to become a developer (for a manual tester who wants to become a developer). Try it. You may find you like, or you might find you do not. You will find that being (good) developer is really hard, you need to keep much more things in your head than even QA automation programmer/test developer. It is not for everybody.

I worked as both developer, QA automation tester, and manual tester. I found being developer as hardest, manual tester bit boring, and QA automation tester most fun.

  • I am not a fan of promoting QA automation as a start to developing. They are two completely different jobs with different characteristics. See f.e. allthingsquality.com/2010/05/… for their differences. – Renzeee Sep 15 '17 at 7:09
  • I have developed an automated test. Although it's not quite 100% finished I am actually on it, so we'll have that. I'm not that excited about programming itself but it's nothing, that I can't handle. Fortunately for me the company has a place for me. – Unit1 Sep 15 '17 at 10:55
  • @Renzeee - While QA automation is not the only way to become developer, for a manual tester it is the most straightforward, IMNSHO. Yes, they are different jobs, but in essence both jobs are about designing algorithms and data structures to solve certain problems, while using some libraries. You are free to disagree. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Sep 15 '17 at 12:29

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