Become a QA manager
Best practices Management Agile
12 mins read
April 27, 2024

Elevate your career: 8 essential steps to transition from tester to QA leader

Are you stressed because you have just been promoted to a QA manager position? On the one hand, you are excited to progress in your career; on the other hand, it brings a lot of responsibilities. No need to panic. This article will give you all the necessary tips to handle this overwhelming situation.

Nurlan Suleymanov
Kirill Chabanov

This transition does not only require a skillset shift. You should also be prepared to change your mindset and adopt a management style. As a manager, you will be responsible for software and the team of QA testers. So let’s dive into the resources and tips that will help you to shift from a software tester to a QA manager.

In our most recent video, we also touched upon this subject. Give it a watch!

What does a test manager do?

If you have just been promoted to a QA manager position or want to become a test manager, we trust that you know what a manager does in the first place. Still, why not have another look?

A test manager is responsible for the whole testing process in a software development project. The main responsibilities you will have to deal with are: 

  1. Test strategy: Developing and implementing the team-wide testing strategy, including defining test objectives, approaches, and metrics.
  2. Test planning: Creating a test plan that outlines the objectives, scope, test types, and timelines.
  3. Resource management: Identifying and managing the resources such as testing tools, environments, and personnel.
  4. Execution and reporting: Coordinating with the development team, executing test cases, ensuring defects are tracked and resolved, and generating test reports to communicate the testing progress to QA, development, and non-tech stakeholders.
  5. Risk management: Identifying and mitigating testing risks, such as potential defects, resource constraints, or project delays.
  6. Continuous improvement: Continuously evaluating and improving the testing process by identifying areas for improvement and implementing necessary changes.

Additionally, a switch to a test manager role will require excellent communication and leadership skills, as you will work closely with stakeholders and lead a team of testers.

Best resources that will help you to switch to a test manager role

How can a software tester become a manager? To improve in a field and move forward in your career path, you will need reliable resources to learn from. Regarding QA, these resources will help you design, implement, and execute effective strategies. Here are some resources that will make your transition to a software test manager smoother:

1. Books

  • “Managing the Testing Process: Practical Tools and Techniques for Managing Hardware and Software Testing” by Rex Black 
  • “Test Management for Professionals: A Practical Guide for Architects and Project Managers” by Remko van der Pols 
  • “Effective Software Testing: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Testing” by Elfriede Dustin, Thom Garrett, and Bernie Gauf
  • “Testing Computer Software” by Cem Kaner, Hung Q Nguyen, and Jack Falk

2. Courses

  • ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level Course: This is a globally recognised certification course that covers the fundamental principles of software testing. 
  • The Certified Software Quality Manager (CSQM): It is a professional certification offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) for individuals who are responsible for managing software quality assurance activities within their organizations.
  • Managing Software Quality Assurance by the University of California San Diego: This course is designed for professionals interested in learning about software quality assurance (SQA) and managing the SQA process effectively.

3. Online communities

  • StickyMinds: It is a vibrant online community for Quality Assurance professionals, providing many resources, including articles, forums, podcasts, webinars, and more.
  • uTest: uTest is a global online community of professional software testers and QA managers, providing a platform for companies to crowdsource their testing needs and for testers to earn money by testing various applications and software products.
  • Reddit communities and Linkedin groups: Reddit and LinkedIn can be a great resource to engage in discussions regarding QA management, share your expertise, and benefit from other professionals’ experiences.

4. Industry events

  • Testing conferences: Attending industry events can give you the opportunity to network with other test managers and learn about the latest trends and best practices in the field.
  • Meetups: Joining local testing and quality assurance meetups can help you meet industry professionals and learn from their experiences.

Tips for successfully switching from tester to QA manager role

Switching from a tester to a QA manager role is challenging, requiring a significant shift in focus and responsibilities. However, with the right mindset, skills, and strategies, it will be a rewarding and fulfilling career transition. Below are the tips and best practices that will help you to successfully switch to a QA manager role, from developing leadership skills to building effective communication and collaboration with your team.

#1. Work on your management skills

As a QA manager, your success depends mostly on management and leadership skills. We can divide management into 3 significant parts, and if you want to become a better QA manager, you should work on all these aspects: 

  • Communication: Ensure that everyone on your team understands their roles and responsibilities.
  • Delegation: Create an environment where everyone’s responsibilities are evenly distributed according to their skill sets.
  • Motivation: Make sure everyone has personal work goals that will contribute to the team’s results and that your team is motivated to complete their work.

If you want to take your management skills to the next level as a QA manager, aqua can help. With the ability to create entire test cases from requirements and launch our AI assistant to get a complete picture of your testing needs, you can ensure that all necessary tests are covered. Plus, our AI Copilot can help you remove duplicate tests, prioritise high-impact tests, and avoid executing flaky tests.

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#2. Be prepared to build a QA team from scratch

As a QA manager, you may also be responsible for building a QA team from scratch. The first step is to define responsibilities for each role. After that, you can start looking for candidates that are perfectly qualified for these roles. Another important factor to consider when hiring people is the company’s culture and values. It is also essential to provide your team with the necessary tools and training.

"The key to building a great product is building a great team first. To me, great teams aren’t bound by roles, but they’re driven by moving forward."

Alan Page, Software engineer

#3. Improve communication with developers and stakeholders

Switching from a software tester to a QA manager also requires building strong relationships with developers and stakeholders. You should ensure devs and testers work together, not against each other, in the development process. Regular communication via shared tools and sensible meetings, constructive feedback and a clear understanding of each other’s responsibilities contribute to better relationships with developers. 

With outside stakeholders, on the other hand, you need to be able to explain technical issues in a non-technical way. A better understanding of the situation leads to trust and ensures everyone is on the same page. You should also be proactive in providing updates on the team’s progress and what issues may arise.

#4. Understand the business and its goals

Another unignorable quality you need to have to become a software test manager is understanding the business and its goals perfectly. You should fully comprehend the product or the service your team is testing and how it fits into your overall strategy. This also includes knowing the constraints and limitations that might affect teamwork. A full understanding of the business will allow you to make better decisions and align your team with the company’s goals.

#5. Take a continuous improvement approach

As a QA manager, you will be responsible for continuously improving your testing processes to ensure that your team delivers high-quality software. This includes:

  • Adopting new tools and methodologies 
  • Analysing metrics to identify areas for improvement 
  • Encouraging your team to provide feedback and valuable suggestions for test improvement

#6. Avoid common QA management mistakes

If you are a QA manager, you should watch out for your team and avoid costly QA management mistakes that would destroy healthy relationships in the team. These mistakes include: 

  • Constant micromanagement
  • Not providing constructive feedback
  • Having unrealistic expectations
  • Not providing the support or training your team needs
  • Setting unclear timelines

#7. Build strong relationships within the team

Building strong relationships with your team members is also critical to your success as a QA manager. You should take the time to know your team members and fully understand their strengths and weaknesses. This way, you will ensure you can work together effectively and deliver high-quality software. You should also recognise and celebrate small wins to ensure your team feels valued.

#8. Stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices

As a QA manager, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. This includes:

  • Attending conferences, 
  • Reading industry publications
  • Participating in online communities

By staying up-to-date, you can make informed decisions and ensure your team uses the latest tools and methodologies. It also helps you become a trusted, reliable professional who has a deep understanding of what is going on in the industry.

Tips to switch from manager to tester


Transitioning from a software tester to a testing manager can be exciting and challenging. By using the resources and following the tips discussed in this article, you can increase your chances of success and avoid common pitfalls. Remember to build strong relationships with your team members, prioritising communication and collaboration and fostering a quality culture. 

If you struggle to define your testing strategy and ensure your team is aligned on testing objectives and priorities, try aqua’s free, downloadable testing strategy template. This comprehensive template covers everything from test planning and execution to defect management and reporting, providing a clear framework for your team to follow.

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Download aqua's testing strategy template to gain a comprehensive framework for planning, executing, and managing your software testing efforts

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How to become a QA lead?

Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a QA lead: 

  • Gain experience as a QA tester to understand testing methodologies, tools, and processes. 
  • Demonstrate leadership skills by taking the initiative, mentoring junior testers, and effectively communicating with team members and stakeholders. 
  • Expand technical expertise in areas relevant to quality assurance, such as testing automation, performance testing, or security testing. 
  • Develop organisational skills to manage testing projects, prioritise tasks, and coordinate with other teams. 
  • Learn project management principles to effectively plan and execute testing activities within project timelines and budgets. 
  • Pursue quality assurance and leadership certifications, such as ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Level or Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, to enhance your credentials and demonstrate expertise in the field.
What is the difference between a QA lead and a senior?

A QA lead fully manages the QA team’s day-to-day activities, sets testing priorities, develops test plans, and ensures testing standards are upheld. On the other hand, a senior QA professional possesses deeper technical knowledge and experience, often contributing to developing testing strategies, implementing advanced testing methodologies, providing guidance on complex issues, and mentoring junior team members. They may also be key in process improvement initiatives and collaborate closely with other departments to ensure high-quality software delivery.

Can a tester become project manager?

Yes, a tester can transition into a project manager role by leveraging their skills in communication, attention to detail, and coordination, while acquiring project management knowledge and developing leadership abilities.

How long does it take to become a QA manager?

The time required to become a QA manager can vary, but it often takes 4-5 years of experience and professional development to acquire the necessary skills and expertise for the role.

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