I’m not referring to some inter- or intra-team battle between engineers with these titles. Instead, this post is a short musing on an ongoing debate as to what we are as professionals, specifically within this software section of our profession. So what’s it to be – Test or QA (Quality Assurance)?
- “I’m a Tester” rolls off the tongue nicely. “I’m a QAer” clearly doesn’t, causing a need for a lengthier title – “I’m a QA Engineer”.
- Both feel like they need an explanation. Unless you know the term, QA means nothing, but equally saying you’re a Tester often leaves people looking rather blank, too. “A tester of what?”
- QA holds a certain grandeur – I feel like there’s some mysticism to the name. Tester somehow feels like it trivialises what we do to the wider professional world. Experimenter, Sleuth, Discoverer, Reducer of Uncertainty, … – they all have a certain air about them that Tester perhaps doesn’t.
- As a label of files, resources, directories and so on within a company, labelling something as “Test” is something many people do and it’s often tricky to differentiate between a throwaway resource created by anyone that should be deleted and a core resource that the whole of our team has created or relies upon.
- There’s a school of thought that the term, Quality Assurance, is inappropriate as we’re unable to assure quality. But assure is not ensure – one definition I found of assure is “to inform positively, to remove doubt”, which sounds rather familiar. Maybe we can assure quality but maybe we don’t need to get into semantics with respect to our job titles and just be Testers instead?
All of that said, I’m delighted to be labelled as an Engineer, whatever my prefix. I wear this label with pride.
How about you, where do you sit on the great Test vs QA debate? Are we missing a better third option? What’s your title and, if you had a free choice of anything, what would you pick to describe what you are and do?
Privileged plug: the company at which I have worked happily for almost seven years, Linguamatics, is looking to hire Test Engineers (or QA Engineers!) in Cambridge, UK. Note that from at least some perspectives, what we do here covers both Testing and QA. If you aren’t interested yourself, perhaps you know someone who might be?