Within a business, quality assurance is the department that is typically charged with making sure that customers are satisfied with the products they receive. This can involve devising ways of testing new products to ensure stability and reliability under a variety of circumstances, or resolving problems that customers have with products that have already been released. Quality assurance engineer jobs can involve work in software, mechanical engineering, or supervisory positions.
Those with backgrounds in computer science can often get quality assurance engineer jobs that involve testing software. These positions often focus on writing programs and scripts that see how the software will stand up in different situations. Software quality assurance engineers can test the source code itself to ensure that it is written to handle any series of inputs the user may complete. They could also inject data into the software while it is running to see how the software reacts, or create programs that simulate random user input to stress test the software. The main aim of this type of job is to identify software bugs before the end-user does.
Individuals who study other fields of engineering, such as mechanical engineering or material engineering, can get quality assurance engineer jobs that test physical products. These professionals use their knowledge to devise methods for exposing products to the kinds of stress involved with their intended purpose. This could entail creating simulations to test both individual components and the whole product, as well as creating real world product tests.
Quality assurance is supposed to find problems or flaws in products before the items get into the customers' hands, but sometimes customers still have problems. In these cases, the company's quality assurance staff is frequently tasked with recreating the problem in order to solve it. This could mean uncovering a previously undiscovered flaw, or identifying how the customer is misusing the product. Either way, the goal of the job is to resolve the customer's problem.
Those working in quality assurance engineer jobs usually begin their careers in actual product testing, but successful individuals can move up into supervisory roles. Such managers generally spend less time with engineering tasks and more time monitoring progress, distributing projects, and managing deadlines. Professionals who are promoted into quality assurance management can also find themselves in charge of setting new company policies and procedures concerning product testing. The company may also appoint assurance engineers to supervisory positions in other areas of the business, where they can contribute their intimate knowledge of the company's products to that department's skill set.