I'm a Quality Assurance (QA) engineer, eager to progress in my career. I have some questions about reaching the senior level in QA and understanding the differences between mid-level and senior QA engineers

How is seniority typically defined in the field of QA engineering? Are there specific criteria or responsibilities that distinguish a mid-level QA engineer from a senior one?

What are the hallmark traits and characteristics of a senior QA engineer?

I'm curious about the steps and skills needed to transition from a mid-level QA engineer to a senior role. What are the key milestones and experiences that can help me achieve this goal?

I'm looking for insights from experienced QA professionals who have made the journey from mid-level to senior roles or anyone well-versed in career progression within QA engineering.

3 Answers 3


First, the "senior" level is going to be different for each company. And, we also don't know your current skills. Are you a QA analyst (no automation skills)? Are you a QA Automation Engineer/SDET? Do you not distinguish between these and say that a QA Engineer or Quality Engineer can do both analysis and test automation? (The last one is how it should be to me).

In some companies, moving to a "Senior" role is just about years of experience. So, if you have 5+ years of experience, a lot of companies see this as Senior level. I think that's wrong since it usually doesn't care about skills or experiences, which are important. And it sounds like skills are important to you based on your question!

In other companies, moving to a "Senior" role is about influence and relationship building. In a lot of cases here, it's not about skills, but about solving your manager's problems, being their go-to person. It's about "who you know, not what you know." It's about being seen by leaders and showcasing/vocalizing/demoing your work as a problem solver or money maker!

My biggest recommendation is to look at job descriptions for "senior QA engineer."

  • Do you understand everything listed in the job description?
  • Have you performed the skills listed?
  • Can you explain how you've utilized the tools or similar tools listed?
  • Can you identify skill gaps from what you have and what is listed? If so, can you find a way to build those skills you lack in your current job/company?

If you can confidently explain each item, skill, tool, process, etc, listed in the job description, and the pros/cons of them, then you're on your way to this role and I'd encourage you to even apply to those jobs!

What's common is that the higher the role, the more important people skills become over technical skills. You'll have greater influence and responsibilities, so be sure to find projects to lead. What does this look like?

  • Have you mentored, coached, or trained anyone in your job or in a skill you use? Since testing is rarely taught, have you or can you teach on QA skills, techniques, and fundamentals? I've run training sessions to teach developers on these!
  • Have you built any test automation frameworks from scratch?
  • Have you been responsible for tool selection? Being able to explain the pros/cons of your choice and why it's the correct tool for the job?
  • Have you created any training documents?
  • Have you improved the SDLC or process your team uses to gain efficiencies?
  • Have you created and/or run a Community of Practice?
  • Have you led any of the Agile/Scrum ceremonies like standups, retros, sprint planning, etc? If not, see if you can lead this as they are good ways to learn leadership and communication skills!
  • Have you created or run a bug triage meeting?
  • Have you created any new processes for your team? Why did you do this? What need did it fill or problem that it fixed?
  • Do you wait to be told what to do? Or do you take initiative?
  • How have you collaborated with people in other roles: dev, UX, DevOps, leadership, customer service? Can you explain how you've collaborated with these roles? The higher you go the more likely you'll need to collaborate with these other roles.

Ultimately, in my experience, Quality Engineering is about 3 things: people, process, and product, in that order! So the more experience you can gain in helping people, improving processes, and bettering products, the more equipped you'll be for Senior-level roles!

Also, I wrote an answer a while ago about skills between a QA automation engineer and a DevOps Engineer. A lot of what I wrote there can and does apply to a Senior QA Engineer, so I recommend reviewing it!


I have found that test engineers are not that different from other engineers and that general job leveling matrix can be used the same way when assessing their seniority. The basic idea is to assess breadth and depth, where the details are different from role to role and company to company.

Here's one random example (from here) Job leveling


Mid-level and senior QA engineers possess different skill sets, responsibilities, and levels of experience. Here are the key differences between the two roles:

  • Technical Proficiency:

Mid-level: Proficient in testing methodologies, executing test cases, and using testing tools. Has a basic understanding of automation and testing frameworks.
Senior: Advanced knowledge of testing techniques, extensive experience with various testing tools and frameworks. Capable of designing complex test scenarios and implementing robust automation solutions.

  • Leadership and Communication:

Mid-level: Works well within a team, communicates test results effectively, and collaborates on testing strategies.
Senior: Demonstrates leadership qualities, mentors junior team members, communicates effectively across different departments, and advocates for quality standards.

Seniority in the field of QA engineering is typically defined by a combination of factors, including years of experience, depth of technical expertise, leadership capabilities, and the scope of responsibilities.

Responsibilities that Distinguish Mid-level from Senior QA Engineer:


  • Executing test plans and cases.
  • Reporting and documenting bugs.
  • Contributing to testing strategies.
  • Working under the guidance of senior team members.


  • List item Leading testing projects.
  • Experience with AI testing Frameworks and Tools
  • Defining testing strategies and methodologies.
  • Mentoring and guiding junior team members.
  • Making decisions impacting the overall quality and direction of the testing process.

A senior QA (Quality Assurance) engineer is a seasoned professional responsible for ensuring that software products meet established quality standards. They possess a unique set of traits, skills, and characteristics that set them apart in their role:

  1. They have a deep understanding of software testing methodologies, tools, and frameworks.
  2. Senior QA engineers typically have several years of experience in software testing across different domains and technologies.
  3. They possess strong analytical skills to dissect complex systems, identify potential problem areas, and devise effective testing strategies.
  4. As senior professionals, they often exhibit leadership qualities, guiding and mentoring junior QA engineers, providing technical direction, and fostering a culture of quality within the team.
  5. They understand the end-user perspective and strive to ensure that the software meets user expectations, providing a seamless and satisfactory experience.
  6. Hands-on experience in artificial intelligence techniques and tools to automate and optimize various aspects of the software testing process.

Transitioning from a mid-level QA (Quality Assurance) engineer to a senior role involves a combination of acquiring new skills, gaining additional experience, and demonstrating leadership and strategic capabilities. Here are steps and skills that can help you in this transition:

  1. Develop Automation Skills: Enhance proficiency in automation tools, frameworks, and scripting languages commonly used in QA, such as Selenium, Appium, JUnit, TestNG, etc.
  2. Understanding of DevOps and CI/CD: Familiarize yourself with continuous integration/continuous deployment practices, tools like Jenkins, Git, Docker, and their integration into testing processes.
  3. Stay updated with the latest trends, tools, and technologies (ai testing) in the QA domain through courses, certifications, workshops, and conferences.
  4. Problem-solving Skills: Demonstrate your capability to solve challenging QA-related problems and make critical decisions.
  5. Volunteer for challenging projects or assignments that allow you to showcase your abilities and take on greater responsibilities.
  6. Identify areas for process improvement within the QA team or testing methodologies and propose innovative solutions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.