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  • Career in Test Automation March 20, 2010

    Why build a career in Test Automation

    There is still a lot of room for improving efficiency in Quality Control in the software industry. The awareness and importance of automated software testing as a solution to this has been drastically increasing in the past few years. There are more mature testing tool choices, there has been more budget in organizations allocated for automation and there is a very strong community of developers and QA engineers innovating in this space. This makes it a great time for aspiring college grads to consider a career in automation; or even experienced QA engineers to get involved.

    Besides that, there are plenty of jobs for experienced automation engineers even in a bad economy. Infact, during bad economies companies try to be more lean and productive and they realize that automation is necessary for achieving that. In the past decade I have witnessed about 12 rounds of lay offs in organizations I worked for. My observation has been that the percentage of QA Automation engineers affected were also far lesser.

    Finally, the money is good too. Whenever there is less supply and more demand, the pay is higher. There may be lot of QA Engineers in the market and many developers for any given language in the market, but the number of people who have QA experience along with the technical know how of building automated solutions are far fewer. You can, and should, use this to your advantage during your salary negotiations.

    Ok, so there is lot of innovation, plenty of jobs and good salaries in this field … do you need more reason to choose test automation as your career? 🙂

    How to get started

    For the more popular tools, these days there have been an increasing number of “Getting started” guides with examples to help you. That definitely is one of the things this website is trying to offer too. I recommend follow the steps in these guides to get your feet wet. This is assuming you already know how to program. If you don’t first learn a scripting language before you try to do anything with any tool!

    Once you have these basics down, you have a few options

    Contributing to existing solution at work

    If your company has already an automation solution using the tool you are trying to learn, you should start digging into its code and try to follow how it works. I have interviewed several candidates who apply for an automation engineer position but when I talk to them I realize that they simply used a solution that someone else created and never took the initiative to learn how it works and why it was designed the way it was. If you have the opportunity to learn from someone else successes or failures, its a crime if you pass on it.

    Sometimes just reading the source is not the fastest way to learn how the solution works. What I would rather recommend is take a simple test and step though its execution code path using a debugger. Its only once you understand the intentions/ goals of the tooling and how it works, can you start contributing to the development of the framework.

    Prototyping a new tool at work

    If there is no automation solution at your work currently, you could take it upon yourself to evaluate different tools that meets the purpose and prototype it. Take the most simplest test cases you own and try to automate it. Most amateurs execute these tests a few times and try automating more tests. Your aim instead should be to run the few tests you automated and execute them over and over again on as many different test environments as you can. Focus on making these as robust as you can. A large number of unreliable tests is far less useful than a handful of reliable tests. Also, for the same reason, what you learn about what it takes to make tests robust will prove to be extremely valuable in your career.

    A note on certifications

    There have been people who have asked me if there are some certifications or courses they could take to learn more about automation. Yes there are, but honestly, I don’t know how useful they are. Recently I have seen websites claiming Soap UI, Selenium certification, and some other tools classes. I would like to hear from anyone who attended them how beneficial they were. In general I always prefer real world experience over classroom teachings … unless the training is given by someone who has applied his principles in the field and has had real successes.

    Useful links

    Posted by Rahul Poonekar in : Concepts

    4 responses to “Career in Test Automation”

    1. R. RAJ TILAK says:

      Hi Rahul. I had great time reading this website. It was very informative and most of the times, i felt like “Aaah, i have experienced this many times”. Thank you for your time for updating..Keep on your good work.

    2. Varun Aggarwal says:

      Hi Rahul,
      Thanks you sooooo much for this post. Your post have really helped me to get my answer regarding career in Test Automation. Actually, 2 months ago my senior asked me to understand an automation tool which someone else had developed who has currently left the company. I understood that tool to the depth, wrote some automated scripts in Python however somewhere I was so confused that “Is it really worth of doing all of these?” but now after reading your post I got that there is a good career in Automation……Thanks a lot!!!!

    3. Gavin says:

      I am hiring automation test engineers for work in Washington, DC. Contact: gmartin@computechinc.com

    4. kamini says:

      Hi anybody who can guide me in my career?
      I am a trainee software manual tester. I want to switch to automation testing. I have learnt the basics of QTP and LR. What should be my next step?
      Thank you.

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