That's right folks! Though some may cringe at the thought of being placed in a testing role on a task or project, such disdain reminds me of the proverbial adage, "One man's trash, is another man's treasure." Testing with best practices leads to quality assurance, and one wouldn't normally associate the terms "quality" and "trash" unless perhaps they were engaged on a process engineering project for a waste management client. However, many probably don't realize how treasured the role of a Tester (one of many of its alternative titles) truly is.

Little did I know, as content as I am with my career choice, many others share a similar passion for the management of software quality. I encountered this confirmation unexpectedly while surfing through the many pages on Yahoo's website. One such article that really grabbed my attention was entitled:

"The Happiest Jobs in America"

"What is at the top of the list? You probably would not expect it or possibly never heard of it!"

(http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/secrets-toyour-success/happiest-jobs-america-173044519.html)

#1: Software Quality Assurance Engineer

"The happiest job of all isn't kindergarten teacher or dentist. It's software quality assurance engineer. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software"

So first-off, the title of "Software Quality Assurance Engineer" really resonated well with me. I think this particular title encapsulates the many aspects of the design, development, execution, and management of software/systems testing, whether we're in roles entitled Tester, Test Lead, Test Manager, Testing Coordinator, Quality Assurance Analysts, Test Engineers, Quality Management Specialists, QA Consultants, and the list goes on…

"… software quality assurance engineers said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for. They're also fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses."

As much as teamwork is emphasized across all roles within the System Development Life Cycle, it is especially necessary during the testing phase, which bridges the gaps between the composed business & systems requirements and the compiled code to fulfill those requirements.

"These professionals are the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products. Organizations generally will not allow software to be released until it has been fully tested and approved by their software quality assurance group"

As I continued to read the excerpts, you can only imagine how much my head was expanding.

"In past studies, we have noted that the long hours and intense demands on software engineers' time caused them to rank as less than happy. However, we are happy to report that software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company."

It is interesting how much more often you here "How come we didn't test that?!" instead of "How did we miss that requirement?!", or "Why wasn't it coded correctly?!" whenever a production issue arises. I suppose that fuels the passion for Quality Assurance in pursuit of identifying defects during the testing phases before they potentially become costly problems in production. Intense demands and long hours isn't just experienced by the software engineers, I bet there are plenty QA folks out there who can also vouch that they've had to work in similarly challenging environments. However, it's not like you're watching the clock as the hours go by. Time flies when you're cranking out test cases.

So whether you're querying tables to validate data, stepping through multiple links on a web application to execute system functional testing, analyzing data mappings for ETL integration testing, or coordinating user acceptance testing, there is a strong coalition of supporters from within the QA community, and, as learned from the article, even supporters from the IT and Business communities alike. Being that this particular skill set is always in demand and transferrable across all industries, job security and compensation are major benefits as well, it's no wonder there's so much job satisfaction in this field!