I worked as a Video Game Tester at Activision for a few years, working my way up the ladder and became a QA Project Lead. I leveraged this experience and was able to get an in at a tech startup with one of my old co-workers. At the startup, I had to learn a ton of new stuff, but I worked hard to learn SQL, command line stuff, SSH stuff, and stuck out enough to get a promotion to Senior within a year. After this, I expressed interest in learning automation testing to my boss, who was encouraging and helped me get the resources I needed to learn python, selenium, etc. After about 2 years of learning and honing my skills, I was moved over to the automation team full time.
Investigating failing automation tests, writing scripts to automate regression testing, helping QA team members with various issues.
QA is a GREAT entry point for a lot of people who want to get into the tech industry with minimal experience. You can find Jr./Associate QA positions that don't require much more than general computer literacy, and if you kick ass you can move upwards and laterally like crazy in the right companies. Good companies love their QA personnel because they know quality is extremely important.
Unlimited PTO, Flex Schedule, Free Snacks
Being a QA analyst/engineer/tester/whatever they call you can be frustrating at first. People will demand a lot from you because you are the last person in the workflow, and you are expected to know about everything. Toxic co-workers/bosses may look down on you simply because you are QA, which is the 'bottom of the totem pole' in the engineering world. If you aren't bothered by others opinion, and are the type of person that says "How can i help" instead of "Thats not my job/i dont know" you will be fine.
Depending on the path you take, you could start out at an hourly rate around 10-15 dollars, maybe at a consulting type place or a contract job. Once you become a full time QA analyst at a software company, you can expect around 40-60k/year, depending on the size of the company. Sr. QA, around 60-80k, Lead QA 70-100k+. Automation around 70-90k, Sr. Automation 80-100k, and lead automation 90-110k+.
For entry level QA:
General knowledge of computers. Critical thinking and problem solving skills.
For intermediate QA positions:
Some places my require a bachelors in computer science or 2+ years of QA experience. Knowledge of test planning, agile, JIRA, perhaps some database knowledge like SQL.
For senior QA positions:
4-5+ years of QA experience. Extensive knowledge of test planning, Agile, JIRA (or some ticketing system), and tools specific to the software being tested (For example, browser dev tools are important if you're testing websites)
You'll need experience with object oriented programming like Python or Java, and likely some knowledge of Selenium if you are testing websites.
There will always be a need for quality. What is changing, however, is the extreme need for automation. This is how companies can continuously deploy code with confidence. It's possible that manual QA jobs will become less and less necessary in the next 10 years, so learning automation is very important for job security.
Your first QA job might be a temp gig with low pay and long hours. This is pretty normal - and that first gig is all about getting experience and resume building. Once you have some skills, find a full time QA job and a company that seems to have good culture. From there, you can talk to your boss about how to move up the ladder and what to work on. If you are dedicated and enjoy learning new stuff, you can make a good living in this career.
Thanks you for doing this write up! Im about to graduate this spring with a major in marketing and I'm starting to realize this is NOT what I want to do with my life. Im a big fan of video games and technology so I've been trying to see whats out there related to these interests that doesn't require me going back to school. How would you compare working as a video game tester vs testing in a startup? does one have a better future than the other?