Jo Boa debuted in the 2011 JTBC daily sitcom I Live in Cheongdam-dong. In 2012, she was cast in her first major role in tvN’s coming-of-age series Shut Up: Flower Boy Band. In 2014, Jo Boa made her big screen debut in Innocent Thing, playing the role of a troubled teenager who becomes obsessed with her gym teacher. In 2015, she became part of the KBS2 family weekend series All About My Mom, which won her Best New Actress at the 28th Grimae Awards. In 2016, she bagged another Best New Actress trophy, this time at the MBC Drama Awards for her work in the revenge melodrama Monster. In 2018, she joined veteran actress Chae Shi-ra in the MBC romance melodrama Goodbye to Goodbye. She collected Excellence Award trophies at the 6th APAN Star Awards and the 2018 MBC Drama Awards for her performance in the series. In 2020, she headlined the tvN fantasy drama Tale of the Nine Tailed, opposite Lee Dong-wook.

Jo Boa revealed during a show guesting that she wanted to become a stewardess or a diplomat when she was younger.  She also shared that she chose to be an actress because it lets her experience a variety of occupations. Jo Boa dated her Surplus Princess co-star Ohn Joo-wan for almost two years.