I hope I am asking this question in the right spot; I'm new here. I didn't know whether to put this on here or the Workplace as it does concern testing so I deleted my previous question and re-asked it here.

I have been through several in person and phone interviews and I have a final one in the coming week. I have a few questions as this is potentially my first real career.

The job is for an electronics company as a Software QA Test Engineer. They know it will be my first job and I will be grateful to have just a job I can sustain myself on especially in this economy. However, I am finding it difficult that, should they extend me an offer, what I can expect in terms of pay. I have not asked about it because that is generally considered bad manners. I have researched the company and the position extensively however and my interviewer liked that.

I have of course, Googled and found various salary websites but they vary to a very large extent! I'm assuming the high end of the pay scale to be experienced workers , however the low end of the scale is very variable it seems as well.

My question is as an entry level Software QA what can I expect to make? Additional information is I live in PA and it is a contract to long term job. The people from the company I spoke to said most people have been there for years unless they performed poorly. I'm given to understand many IT jobs are contract to hire jobs.

My educational background is in C++ programming and UNIX ( big Linux enthusiast ) and I am finishing my Associates degree. I was originally in school for software development in a BS program but I didn't find it to my liking. I decided to focus on the hardware end of the industry which is why I switched programs. However when I received a call from a recruiter it sounded like a great position for me because I like to problem solve I just was not as interested in development as my friends are. I read that UNIX skills could really help me out; I'm just not sure what a day in the life is like.

I understand many negative people view Testing as a place for mediocre programmers or a stepping stone position. I think that is narrow-minded and untrue more than likely and obviously testing is very important. As a puzzle/chess enthusiast ( that type of mind ) it sounds like a great job for me that I could thrive in.

I have never specifically done anything with Testing ( I have used emacs and GDB etc. ) however I am very motivated and can learn and become certified if it will help my career. I have an A+ cert and am working on Net+ and Linux+. If you are a Tester and could provide me any info I would appreciate it.

  • As a place, PA stands for what?, I guess Pennsylvania, US?
    – dzieciou
    Sep 21, 2014 at 10:19
  • Workplace exchange has many questions/answers about salary negotiation. Show your skills and creativity by googling there first. Sep 22, 2014 at 12:40
  • So is your question what you should expect in terms of an offer, or is it how much you should ask for?
    – ernie
    Sep 22, 2014 at 23:22
  • Did the job ad say nothing at all about the salary they were offering? Sep 23, 2014 at 15:19

8 Answers 8


Take yourself seriously from the start, getting a pay upgrade in a later stadium is always harder than at the start. Discussing a better salary also shows some of your non-technical skills which might impress them.

First, you should think about how much money you actually need on a monthly basis. You could then wait for their offer and see if meets your needs. They will never offer their maximum at the start, so I would always ask for a bit more. If it does not fit your needs, put it on the table and see if you can work out a good fitting salary.

If they are waiting for you to give an indication, make sure it's high enough, but tell them its open for discussion and salary will not be a breaking point. They will give you a return offer and now you can decide to again do an offer or accept it as it is.

For salary ranges, this will differ so much from company, country and market needs that I do not think we can give you a number.


Well, the answer will be specific to:

  • the position and company you apply for,
  • match between your experience and position requirements,
  • and how well you can sell your experience during the interview.

When I didn't know what money should I expect from my first job in a new domain, I participated in multiple interviews in a row. This way I was able to compare what money and benefits different companies can offer to me.


Check out Glassdoor.com, they probably have salaries for the company, and maybe for your job title. The glassdoor salaries are self-reported by other people.

you can also search for salaries in other companies.

Good luck,


  • Indeed.com might be a good place to look too.
    – user246
    Sep 26, 2014 at 1:34

I would suggest to ask about payment and career opportunities on job interview. It's actually depens from place where you gonna work and your responsibilities.


I suppose first of all you should analyze a few things,

  1. How will the company benefit from you?
  2. Do you have the knowledge and will(since it's your first job and I assumed you haven't done any real testing yet) to meet the requirements?
  3. What kind of career opportunity does the job provide?
  4. Think of where you would like to be 5 years from now?

And then decide on the pay scale, which by the way is always negotiable!


I think you're really asking two questions:

  • what salary should I ask for
  • will testing be a good career path for me

I'll attempt to share a bit on both of these:

1) I was in a similar position a couple fo years ago and the way I decided to go about it was I figured out what my monthy expenses were, the sort of bare minimum I could sustain myself confortably enough without having to count every smallest unit of currency. Then I simply added about 20 % to that and asked for it. Not in a way that I'd either get this or leave and never return, I was still open for negotiation.

I think it's also important to research what is the industry average pay for your type of position, there're a couple of sources you can get a rough estimate:

  • job offers - they might at least state a salary range, I wouldn't rely much on the upper number, that's usually there just to entice more candidates and nobody usually gets that figure. But the lower figure is usually what you can easily get + a bit on top of that.
  • recruitment agencies might publish their research on salaries in various industries/for various jobs, this might be a good source of information as well
  • asking people (friends, classmates, ...) who have been through the same situation as you
  • more general statistics such as cost of living in different countries - this is probably the worst source for your situation as it's a really rough average that won't tell you much about salary for your position

2) A quick answer is, you don't know and you can't figure out in advance. There's some risk associated with every change. In my view, if you've never worked as a tester, you simply have no real means to find out if it's a good fit for you. My approach would be (and was in the past) to try it out seriously for about 1 year and then decide. 1 year is enough to find out many aspects of the job, so you'll have enough information to further assess whether or not it's for you. But at the same time, it's not too much time that would mean you can't leave it all behind and move on to a different industry/position. 1 "lost" year (in the worst case scenario) is nothing serious if you're young. And you will still learn a thing or two anyway.


Recruiter will have good idea about salary range for this (or any other) position. They talk to hiring managers. Recruiters do care - they are paid "placement fee" worth 1-3-4 months of your salary. :-) so they are highly motivated to negotiate highest salary for you which will get you hired and get them a fee.

Hired and stay hired - fee is due some months later, if you stay.


There isn't really a single answer to this; it differs greatly based on cost of living in your specific area, nearby similar opportunities, industry, and so on.

However, one thing I would look at, if you really do want to make a career of testing, and possibly at this company in particular, is what is the career trajectory of testers at this company? You're absolutely correct, that in some places, testing is seen as an entry level position, and then you move to development. Is that the case here, or are there testers at the company with authority and seniority? How are testers rated? When there are escapes, what happens? Does the tester get blamed, or is the process as a whole looked at?