How much do testers cost and what do their salaries depend on? Building a portrait of a successful QA specialist

    ZP testers

    At the beginning of 2019, we (together with the and portals) conducted a study of the wage level of QA specialists. Now we know how much the services of testers in different parts of the world cost. And we also know what knowledge and experience a QA specialist should possess in order to change a stuffy office and a modest salary, to a beach deck chair and a thick bundle of currency. Want to know more about everything? Read our article.

    So ... Imagine the situation, you came for an interview and your question is quite a standard question about the "expected level of wages." How can one not get right with the answer? Someone will start from the last salary in the last job, some from the average salary for this vacancy in Moscow, some will take the salary level that your friend QA engineer bragged about for a glass of tea yesterday. But you must admit, somehow it's all vague, I would like to know my own price for sure.

    Therefore, any tester interested in money sometimes asks the following questions:

    • How much do I stand as a specialist?
    • What skills do you need to develop in order to increase your value for the employer?
    • Will I not get more by changing office work in Barnaul to a remote office in Moscow?

    Salary aka monetary compensation is a kind of universal equivalent to the success of a hired specialist in his professional field. If we discard the subjective personal and social factors - better than the salary about the qualifications and level of competencies of the hired specialist, perhaps nothing will be said. But if we know everything about our income level, then in which direction to develop in order to increase this income, we can only guess.

    According to the Pareto principle, 80% of the funds the employer / customer is willing to pay for 20% of our skills. The only question is what skills in modern realities are included in these 20%. And today we will try to pick up the very key to success.

    In our study, we decided to go, so to speak, “from a person,” and therefore we conduct a survey not at the level of CIO and personnel services, but at the level of people who are “vitally” interested in the results of the survey: you, dear QA specialists.


    Introduction: organization of the survey.
    Part one. The wage level of QA-specialists in Russia and the World.
    Part two. Dependence of the wage level of QA-specialists on experience, education and position held
    Part three. Dependence of the level of remuneration of QA specialists on the level of proficiency in testing skills
    Conclusion: portraits of QA specialists

    Introduction: organization of the survey

    In this section you will find general information about the survey itself and its respondents. Want the most juice? Feel free to scroll further!

    So, the survey was conducted in December 2018 – January 2019.
    To collect most of the data, we used the Google Forms questionnaire, the contents of which can be found at the link below:

    I would like to thank portal and Natalya Barantseva personally for help in conducting the survey . Also, a special thank you we want to say: the portal , VC community «QA testing and seals" , telegrams channel «QA Shannel" .

    The survey involved 1006 respondents who work for companies from 14 countries in 83 cities. For the convenience of work and data visualization, we combined the geography of all respondents and their employers in 6 independent regions:

    - Russia.
    - Europe (EU zone).
    - CIS.
    - USA.
    - Asia.
    - Oceania.

    The Asian region and Oceania had to be excluded due to their low representation in the sample.

    How are the QA specialists distributed by employer region?

    Employer Regions QA

    US dollars were chosen as the main research currency. Not that we all get salary in dollars, they just have fewer zeros and more precisely conversion from other currencies.

    In what currency do QA specialists get paid?

    Currencies of QA Professionals

    We were able to clearly identify 4 main salary ranges:
    - less than $ 600 (with a median of $ 450);
    - $ 601-1500 (with a median of $ 1050);
    - $ 1500-2300 (with a median of $ 1800);
    - more than $ 2,300 (with a median of $ 3,000).

    97% of the positions indicated by the respondents were able to identify and classify into 4 classical categories of QA-specialists. We deliberately took the classification adopted by international companies, as even in Russia, these terms are common, and the remaining 42.2% of respondents work for other countries.

    How are QA specialists categorized by job category? QA Post Testers

    Part one. The wage level of QA-specialists in Russia and the World

    First, let's determine the level of RFQ QA specialists in Russia and how it depends on the format of work.

    How does the wage level of a QA specialist depend on his work format (Russia)? Zp tester work format (Russia)

    About half of all QA-specialists (48.9%) work in the office on a patch from $ 601 to $ 1,500. Another third also work in an office format, almost equally divided into two camps: with a salary of <600 $ (17.3%) and with a salary of 1500 - $ 2300 (18.1%).

    Interesting: The percentage of highly paid specialists is much higher among those who adhere to flexible office and remote schedules than among testers constrained by a tight work schedule. As for freelance, all of its few representatives noted their income level as <600 $.

    These indicators are not unique to the Russian market of QA services. Similar trends are observed internationally.

    Comparison of the average wage of QA-specialists (Russia vs World)

    ZP testers Russia World

    The salary benefits of a flexible remote schedule are even better visible when compared with the global level. Probably, this is affected by the lack of employer costs for org. equipment, infrastructure and organization of the employee’s workplace, which are partially converted into his salary. So, if you want to drink cocktails on the ocean and earn 24% more than your colleagues fighting for the air conditioner from 9 to 18, you now have additional motivation.

    Interesting: Most of all the RFP in Russia lags behind the world one in the case of the remote hard format (35.7%) and freelance (58.1%), and the freelance itself is also poorly paid, but it is much better developed abroad than in Russia.

    You ask: “Where do these salary figures come from? Probably only Moscow and Peter participated in the polls. " No, colleagues. In cities, the geography of almost all of Russia is presented, but we did not dare to analyze the cities with less than 20 respondents in terms of the average RFP. If you need anyone - write to, share data on other cities.

    The average level of pay for QA-specialists (Russian cities) ZP testers by city

    The picture is predictable, cities with a population of one million people are distinguished by high salaries, the exception is Saratov, Krasnodar and Izhevsk. The capitals are traditionally divided palm, but the top salaries in the cities are closed by Chernozemye and Voronezh, the salary difference with Moscow is almost twofold (45.9%).

    Interesting: We do not fully understand how Saratov entered the top three in salaries. We will be grateful if you share your guesses on this subject.

    For those who have decided to work for a “rotting Europe” or the neighboring CIS - we are glad to make you happy. There is every chance to feel a significant increase in the RFP. Those who already work for them probably know this without us.

    Average wage level for QA specialists (employer regions)

    RFP testers by region

    Everything is predictable here, the level of wages of Russian employers is on average 10% lower than in the CIS, 14.8% more modest than in Europe, and 28.8% than in the USA.

    Interesting: The level of RF in Europe and the CIS does not vary as much as we initially predicted (only 5.3%). It is hard to say whether the globalization of industry, the blurring of the concepts of "Europe" and "CIS" in the minds of respondents, or economic conditions are to blame.

    It is logical that large salaries attract more qualified specialists who are ready to work for a foreign company. The process of diversion of specialists becomes easier when large companies open branches in dozens of countries and cities, and remote work formats erase the remaining boundaries.

    Where do QA specialists live and work?

    Where QA live work

    Record holder for the recruitment of personnel from other countries - the United States, 15 times more QA-specialists work for American companies than resides in the states. In the CIS, on the contrary, they prefer to live rather than work for local IT companies. In Russia and the EU countries there is a relative balance between workers and living.

    Interesting: Sometimes the only barrier that separates a specialist from moving to a Euro-American employer is language skills. The labor market in Russia and the CIS has been fortunate that this factor in our century is still holding back the brain drain.

    Part two. Dependence of the wage level of QA-specialists on experience, education and position

    We were not able to identify a direct relationship between the level of RFQ of QA specialists and the education received. But we were able to draw very interesting conclusions about the impact of education on the position held by a specialist.

    How does the position / category occupied by a QA specialist depend on his education?

    Education Position QA Specialist

    The percentage of juniors is highest among people with a humanitarian, economic and secondary specialized education.
    Good leads are obtained from students of technical specialties, lawyers, people with a scientific degree and, attention of a logician, specialists with specialized managerial education.
    Good seniors (senior) come out of techies and, it is noteworthy, either people with a school education, or specialists with two higher.
    But the middle (middle) is enough everywhere, except that among lawyers and graduates they are slightly fewer.

    Interesting:Our statistics, collected over the year of operation of the Online Institute of Testers (POINT), fully confirm the above data on the formation of June. And the internal statistics of the company show that technical experts are the fastest growing on the career ladder.

    How many disputes go around the classification of QA-specialists and wage grades. Juniors, who receive as seniors (senior), leads (lead) on the salary of the middle (middle) - is a common practice today. Let's try to figure it out.

    How does the level of remuneration of a QA specialist depend on his position / category?

    Dependence of the tester's PO on the position

    Let's start by breaking down the basic myth of seniors growing into managers. Going into leads is not a step up, but to the side! All the experience gained over the long years of working as a QA specialist almost does not help in the new role, because you have to work not with the code, but with people and plans. All this is perfectly understood by the leadership, and in fact we see that neither the salaries, nor their structure, among the seniors and leads are fundamentally different.

    The difference between June and Middle cannot be called catastrophic either. Yes, on average, the middle often earns his $ 1,500-2,300 instead of $ 600. But like the June, half of all the middle ones receive salaries from the range of $ 601-1500.

    Interesting:Where the jump in salaries is really visible is when comparing the middle and seniors. salaries of less than $ 600 are a thing of the past, and 57% of all salaries fall into the range of $ 1500-3000. It remains to understand what such a seigneur should be able to develop in this direction, but more on that later.

    But work experience, in contrast to education, directly affects the level of RFP.

    How does the level of remuneration of a QA specialist depend on work experience?

    The dependence of the tester's testament on experience

    The diagram below clearly shows how, with experience in the profession, the indicator of low-paid specialists falls and the number of salaries exceeds $ 2,300.

    How do wage ranges change as the QA specialist's experience grows?

    The dependence of the tester's testament on experience 2

    June is the main thing to hold out for the first year. Even at the end of the year on a salary of $ 1500-2300, one-year-old testers may not count, but there is a good chance (56%) to become one of the specialists with a salary of $ 600-1500 per month.

    Finally, judging by the salary, the value of a specialist ends up being formed between 4 and 6 years of work, reaching an average salary of $ 1,500. After this moment, the growth rate of salaries slows down, for some it reaches $ 2300 per month, but in general, experience after 6 years in the profession of a tester simply guarantees an income of $ 1500-2000, and then everything, as always, depends on the city, company, person.

    Interesting: The growth rate of the QA specialist's wage level in the first 3 years is 67.8%, while the growth rate of salaries in the period from 7 to 10 years falls to 8.1%.

    Part three. Dependence of the level of remuneration of QA-specialists on the level of testing skills

    Remember, at the very beginning of this article, we tried to understand our value as a specialist. Now, let's move on to testing skills analysis. What skills do QA-specialists possess and how does this affect their level of RFP?

    What are the best QA skills?

    Skill QA tester

    Consider the necessary minimum skills that we can’t do without in the profession.

    What should every QA specialist know?

    1. Skill of localization and institution of defects - The most common skill. 4 people do not own it at all, 16 people do not own it well. And 98% of respondents possess the skill well and in perfection.
    2. Possession of bug tracking systems (Jira, Redmine, YouTrack, Bugzilla) - also, only 6 people are not at all familiar with this skill.
    3. Client testing of web applications - 81% of respondents are good or perfect at it.
    4. Owning knowledge management systems and test case repositories (wiki, confluence, etc.) are the same 81%, but only 27% of them are perfect.
    5. Proficiency in test analysis, test design and test combinatorics techniques - 58% of the specialists are proficient in this skill and another 18% are perfect. Is it worth it to lag behind them?

    Now consider the skills that can be considered scarce, and therefore, well paid in our profession.

    What can you boast with your employer / colleagues?

    1. Experience in developing load testing scripts in JMeter or similar applications is the rarest skill. 467 people do not have this skill at all (46.4%). 197 people own it at a sufficient level (19.6%). Only 49 people are fluent in it, and 36 of them earn more than $ 1,500.
    2. Possession of reporting systems for the results of autotests (Allure, etc.) - at a sufficient level owns 204 specialists.
    3. Drivers and add-ons for testing automation - 241 specialists.
    4. Owning test automation frameworks (TestNG, JUnit, etc.) - 272 specialists.

    Interesting: The most rare skills expectedly turned out to be load testing and automation skills, which confirms the current situation in the QA services labor market. The shortage of automation and load-bearing equipment can be easily traced by the level of remuneration of their labor compared to other specialists.

    What skills are best paid?

    Dependence of the tester’s PO on his skills

    Most likely (up to $ 1410 per month) basic skills of bug tracking, skills in the field of web / mobile applications, test analysis and layout / adaptability are paid.

    Not far from them (up to $ 1,560 per month) , testing skills for integration and databases, ownership of version control systems and logging were gone. On average, they are paid 10-15% better.

    Even better (up to $ 1,660 per month) are paid skills for managing test case repositories, possession of traffic monitoring tools and the fundamental skill of localizing and fixing defects.

    Well, if you like the figure of $ 1770 , then, as mentioned earlier, welcome to the league of auto testers, loaders and continuous integrators, it is these skills that are paid best according to the results of our research.

    Interesting: mastering the skills of load testing and automation increases the size of your RFP, on average, by 20-25%, with equal position and work experience.
    A QA specialist with only one or even 2-3 skills is rather a rarity in the profession. It is more correct to evaluate the qualification and salary of a tester by the number of skills that he possesses in total.

    How does the level of remuneration of a QA specialist depend on the number of skills he has mastered?

    Dependence of the tester's testament on the number of skills

    The myth of the profitability of specialization in testing has not justified itself. The number of skills in the tester's arsenal directly affects his salary. Each additional 5-6 skills in the specialist's piggy bank leads to an increase in wages by 20-30%. Most noticeable is the salary increase among specialists who have mastered more than 20 skills. Such “geeks” get on average 62% more than narrow-profile specialists with 5 skills in baggage.

    Interesting: Only 12 out of 1006 people have all the skills. All of them have a high level of RFP. All 12 people work in the office, all have extensive experience (only one respondent has 2-3 years experience, the rest are evenly distributed over experience 4-6, 7-10 and more than 10 years).

    Conclusion: portraits of QA professionals

    Instead of boring conclusions and summaries, we decided to draw verbal portraits of QA-specialists with different salaries. Portraits are far from ideal as they reflect a certain totality of QA-specialists, and therefore may differ from reality in special cases. A total of four portraits.


    Portrait of a QA specialist with a salary of up to $ 600.
    Place of residence: small cities of Russia and the CIS.
    Employer: mainly companies from Russia and the CIS.
    Work format: freelance or a hard schedule of remote work.
    Education: any, most often humanitarian.
    Category / Position: junior.
    Work experience: up to a year.
    Good command: 4-5 skills.
    Must own at least:
    - systems of bug tracking;
    - skills of localization and institution of defects;
    - client testing of web applications or mobile applications;
    - skills test analysis.

    Middle class

    Portrait of a QA specialist with a pay level of $ 600-1500.
    Place of residence: large cities of Russia (Saratov, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Rostov, etc.) and the CIS, Europe.
    Employer: mainly companies from Russia, the CIS and small European ones.
    Work format: predominantly tight schedule of office and remote work.
    Education: any.
    Category / Position: junior or middle.
    Work experience: 2-3 years.
    Good command: 6-10 skills.
    In addition to the basic set, he owns:
    - skills in testing integration and databases;
    - version control and logging systems.


    Portrait of a QA specialist with a pay level of $ 1,500–2,300.
    Place of residence:
    - Russia (capitals);
    - CIS (cities of over one million);
    - Europe.
    Employer: companies with capital from Europe and the USA.
    Work format: office formats and flexible remote.
    Education: any, most often legal or managerial.
    Category / Position: middle or senior.
    Work experience: 4-6 years.
    Good command: 11-18 skills.
    Must additionally own:
    - knowledge management systems and test case repositories;
    - traffic monitoring tools;
    - version control systems.

    Fat toss

    Portrait of a QA specialist with a salary level of $ 2,300 or more.
    Place of residence:
    - without reference to the place (person of the world);
    - Russia (capitals);
    - CIS (capital);
    - Europe (large cities);
    - USA.
    Employer: companies from Europe and the USA.
    Work format: flexible office or flexible remote format.
    Education: any, but better technical.
    Category / Position: Senior or Lead.
    Work experience: > 6 years.
    Good command: more than 19 skills in testing.
    The obligatory baggage of skills includes:
    - 2-3 skills of automated testing;
    - 1-2 skills of load testing;
    - Possession of continuous integration systems.

    We hope now it will become a little easier for you to evaluate yourself (as a QA-specialist) in the labor market. Perhaps this article will help someone to be patient, go to school and begin to grow in the most profitable direction. Someone will have the courage and data to talk with the leader about raising salaries. And someone will finally decide to leave their native latitudes and move to live on the coast of Thailand.

    Whoever you are, we wish you good luck, because you already know where and how much to grow.

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