Summary - It appears to me that one has to be exceptionally good to get a QA job, but it is enough to be an average or even mediocre developer to get some job or at least an entry level job.
The details -
After talking to people at some small, medium and big name companies (ex. FAANG), it appears that there is a tendency to have fewer QA or Testers. You’ll often see QA to DEV ratios like 1:10 or lower, especially in FAANG like companies. I am not sure if this is the right move in every case, but it seems to be the trend.
I also see that the ratio of QA-DEV job postings is quite low. I haven’t done any rigorous comparisons, but it feels like there are 1 or 2 QA jobs for every 10 DEV jobs (at the same level) in cities with lots of tech companies. I don’t know if the pandemic has lowered that ratio or if there are other factors like a tendency to have lower QA to DEV ratios. There are many entry level DEV job postings though, some even with mentoring, but hardly any entry level QA jobs. Moreover, I am not sure if companies with very low QA-DEV ratios compensate their QAs enough, given the QAs bigger responsibilities. I have rarely heard of QAs making much more money than DEVs in the same company.
The interview process for QA is similar, if not at par with junior/intermediate level DEV interviews. Many companies (not all) have a screening round in which they ask you to solve problems in Data Structures and Algorithms in under 1 hour. They can ask such problems in later stages also. These problems are often difficult and might not always indicate if candidate is a good QA or not. In fact, one might not even need that kind of problem solving skill in most QA jobs, but that is a different story. If we need to bring ourselves to the level of a junior/intermediate DEV in algorithms and such, regardless of whether the job actually needs it, then why not learn more and become a DEV instead ? (unless your passion is QA only or you know for sure that you are exceptional in testing).
It appears to me that one has to be exceptionally good to get a QA job, but it is enough to be an average or even mediocre developer to get some job or at least an entry level job. It appears that COVID has exacerbated this. Remember that you also have to pay the bills.
So, I guess its time to switch careers. But, how do you decide whether you have the aptitude to be an exceptional tester ?. There are plenty of resources which give you a rough idea of your aptitude for software development or programming (Ex. Hacker Rank). But, I haven’t come across any such resources for QA. So, its hard to get the confidence to leave QA.
I see so many people from different professions getting into software development (mostly front end) jobs after taking a coding bootcamp or teaching themselves for a few months to a year or so. I am not sure about their long term job prospects & survival in the industry, but I have seen some promising cases of long term success online. For example at https://www.nocsdegree.com/ .
So many people from other professions have gotten jobs in software development recently. For example, engineers from non-CS, fast food workers, nurses, real estate agents, stay at home moms, political science majors, waiters…the list goes on.
But, I don’t see as many people getting into QA and as much interest in becoming QA or testers, unless they couldn’t pass a developer interview. Some people enter QA with their sights firmly on DEV positions. Looks like QA might end up becoming a niche job (and DEV might have excess supply of labor) eventually.