QA Tester QA Engineer QA Architect
Function – Strong in test execution. Function – Test planning, Test Design and execution. Function – Define approach to test entire systems
Write and execute test cases – may not be coverage driven. Requirements driven testing. Prepare test plans, develop test cases and execute tests with a focus on coverage. Design, plan, execute, monitor, improve testing process for a testing engagement.
Determines Quality. Good to answer – did you find any bugs? Engineers Quality. Good to answer – what is the quality of the product? Provides answers to – 

  • What are the quality attributes and goals of the product?
  • What should be the test strategy, methodology and test tools so as to ensure product quality?
Linear thinkers, low capability of analysis and re-usability of efforts/resources. Logical thinkers. Ability to resolve issues using abstraction. Capability in analysis/predictions/improvements. Analytical and creative. Systems thinking and quantitative/statistical thinking capabilities.
Requires a defined environment. Typically are weak in finding solutions in ambiguous/constrained environments. Can reconcile conflicting constraints. Able to define the environment.
Low process oriented capability. Process and metrics/measurement driven. Defines standards, guidelines, methodologies, metrics.
May not be cost sensitive (time, effort, monetary, etc.) Cost sensitive Cost sensitive
Good for UI Testing 

  • Regression testing
  • Portability testing
Good for System/functionality testing 

  • Performance testing /Automation
  • Independent validations
  • Domain testing
  • Programming skills orientation
Good for defining, planning and managing for test engagements.
   
  • Ability to understand the goals of an organization and suggest a test architecture.
  • Able to suggest alternative approaches and benefits of the same.
  • Ability to suggest improvements to process and technology areas for a test system.
  • Ability to define the framework for testing.
  • Ability to analyze risks and provide mitigation plans.
  • Ability to analyze test requirements and provide a solution in terms of test approach and design, suggested tools etc.
  • ability to design the entire test life cycle processes.
  • Capability to lead and co-ordinate a team of analysts for testing engagements.
  • Software development skills.
  • In touch with new methodologies and tools for software testing.
  • Ability to design, plan and execute and monitor a testing process.
Typical involvement is in later stage of SDLC Best to have them involved in complete SDLC Cycle. Best to have them involved in complete SDLC Cycle.

Source: http://manishrathi.com/2009/09/11/qa-tester-vs-qa-engineer-vs-qa-architect/

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