Who Earns More, Software Tester Or Developer? Let’s Find Out By Comparing Salary

I was asked once, “Why are you a QA? You do decent QTP (VBScript) programming, how come you didn’t try development?”. It’s like I was settling for something less 🙂

Then, there are all these questions we at STH hear:

  • Should I be a developer or a tester if I decide on an IT career?
  • Will my career growth be just as good either way?
  • What should I say when someone asks me ‘why QA’?
  • Am I wasting my time being a QA when I could have been a developer?
  • Is my job less secure if I am a QA?
  • I am being assigned a QA project, should I run the other way or is there anything in it for me?

  • Am I going to be insignificant as a tester?
  • Does all credit go to developers when the product hits the market?
  • Isn’t testing supposed to be for those who are non-technical?
  • Testing is less intense and I am only willing to work part-time, would that be reason enough for me to try it?

qa testers salary

(image source: e27.co)

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And, one of the top FAQs we get – “Is QA a monetarily wise career choice? Aren’t testers paid less than development counterparts?” Let’s find out.

#1) Testers don’t need as many skills as developers do – False. Why?

  • All developers test and most testers write code. We are not just talking Unit and Integration tests here.
  • Tools such as Selenium use the same IDE and programming languages used for development so testing can be set up fast and easy.
  • Test Driven Development and behavior driven Development frameworks are on an all-time rise. This simply means that developers have to think from the perspective of the end users/testers. They need the perspective and assistance of testers to set up these frameworks. See these posts for more details Automation Testing Using Cucumber Tool and The Difference Between TDD and BDD.

There are many such instances where the boundaries of testing and development cross over.

Bottom line: Cross-functional knowledge is a MUST.

Therefore, the key skills for both dev and test teams are:

#2) Involvement in the development life cycle

Both teams play critical roles end to end. With companies adopting Continuous integration and continuous testing approaches, testers and developers work hand in hand. Also, Agile does not differentiate between development and test teams- it’s all one SCRUM.

#3) Will growth opportunities be similar for Testers and Developers?

Growth is variable to each person as it depends on ability, aspiration, efforts, and circumstances. It has little to do with the branch of IT.

Developers could move on to become managers, Business Analysts, Architects, or could go into sales, research etc. depending on their qualification, aspiration, and opportunities.

The same chances exist for testers too, just in their field. Test lead, Test manager, Business Analyst, etc. – many possibilities.

Also read => How to Figure Out What QA Job Best Suits You Based on Your Skills?

#4) Are developers indispensable while testers are not?

If a certain department is not important, why have it? Developer versus tester conflict though is no longer a problem within IT teams, it is still a clichéd cultural perception among outsiders.

An almost reverence towards developers and disdain for testers is still heard of – but I bet this is coming from those who know neither disciplines well. To be or not to be (a software tester) – is a question, not to be answered based on the opinions of the unaware.

Jobs are volatile everywhere. It is usually the weakest link that takes the cut, and it does not mean it is always the QA that is discarded.

#5) Finally, is the disparity in compensation true? Do developers really make a lot more than testers?

If you are looking for a general idea of where things are at compensation wise, the following could be useful:

Glassdoor:

  • Software Tester Salaries
  • Software Developer Salaries

Payscale:

Software Tester Quality Assurance Salary

Software tester salary

Application Developer Salary

Software developer salary

Source: Payscale.com

When you look at the above links please note that there are many variables.

Unfortunately, we don’t work in a world of normalized salaries.

In my career, I’ve seen many QAs earning more than the Development counterparts. And vice versa is also true in many cases.

Pay depends on:

  • Skills and skill level
  • Experience
  • Current Salary (when shifting to a new position)
  • Nature of employment (full time vs freelancing vs contractual)
  • Location
  • Company
  • Benefits
  • Sadly and rarely, the negotiation skills of the employee

Things to keep in mind:

  • A job offers more than money – An opportunity to exercise your potential, a community that shares your passion and a chance to make a difference. Let the big picture show all this and more.
  • Hunt for a lion, not a unicorn. Beware of the urban myths – A friend of a friend who bagged a killer salary package and had even less experience than you did.
  • Comparing salaries – (with QAs or Devs) – Not a good idea. If you feel overworked and underpaid, feel free to discuss it with your manager.
  • Anything that is worth doing is worth getting paid for, well.
  • Lastly, “To double your income, triple your rate of learning.”- Robin Sharma.

Conclusion:

In closing, I want to say that choosing a career path should be based on aptitude, ambition, security, satisfaction and of course, compensation. At work, one must feel competent, confident and productive.

Being good at what you do is the key to feeling that way and you know that it’s not a state magically conjured. It takes work, practice and more practice.

Suggested reading =>> Software Developer vs Engineer

Author: Thanks to STH team member Swati S. for all the research and making us proud of our profession.

We would love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions and disagreements below.

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