Test Automation – Is it a Specialized Career? Can Normal Testers Do Automation Also?

I’m really happy to share a wonderful guest post by Gunasekaran Veerapillai. He is working as a competency Head in Wipro Technologies Testing Services.

Gunasekaran has covered an interesting transformation of the Automation industry – How it was a few years ago and where is it heading now. He has also answered one core question: “ Whether we need dedicated automation experts to do the test automation or the normal testers can do automation also?”

So please enjoy and take it away Gunasekaran!

Test Automation – Is it a Specialized Career

Test Automation is no more a niche skill” – “any good business tester with the right attitude can create test automation scripts”.

automation expert

Over the last decade, test automation has undergone multiple facets of changes. Some vendors have introduced new tools, open-source tools have come to stay, and still, some vendors are marketing their products as the ultimate solution for Quality.

CTOs of the organizations are convinced that automation is going to give them greater benefits in squeezing the cost and time over the long run.

Service providers have introduced several ultimate frameworks which save the effort of automation testers – right from standard data-driven, Key-word, Hybrid to script-less frameworks whereby business users can create automation scripts without the hassles of Java or VB scripting knowledge.

This ultimately led us to the question if a dedicated automation test scripting community is required or the normal testers can do automation also? There are many articles stating that test automation should be group automation – it should not be a dedicated, aligned team working on automation scripts/projects.

How about both

When I was managing a test automation project during 2002, I was hunting for testers with the development background. I wanted them to be part of the team as the automation tool we employed in the project used created the code in a propriety language similar to “C”.

Any upgrade to the script is easily done by a tester who has the knowledge of the programming language. Then came the automation frameworks where the expertise in language helped the tester to write the “reusable functions” which are expected to save the considerable time of the automation developers.

Secondly, test automation developers were expected to convert the already written test cases into automation scripts; they were rarely expected to have the knowledge in the business to understand the same in the right perspective before creating the scripts.

Test Automation as a preferred profession in Software Testing grew leaps and bounds over the next few years until the great recession struck us during 2008. Clients started questioning the ROI out of the automation scripts developed over a period of time and the re-usage percentage of these scripts for the subsequent releases.

They were really shocked to see that in many cases test automation has not yielded the desired result and scripts require more maintenance to keep them LIVE to the current applications. Only very few clients where the technology is web-centric got excellent benefits in saving the cost and time due to Automation.

Test Automation – Current Status

#1) From automating the Regression test cases, automation is moving towards life cycle test automation. Clients have started exploring the various stages of the test life cycle which can be automated with the right set of tools required for automating such manual work.

#2) Automation testers are expected to have good business knowledge with the advent of model-based testing. Clients cannot hire separate testers for creating the model and automating the test cases.

#3) Business Process automated test packs help the clients to reduce the time to market for the standard & established applications and products.

#4) Clients find it difficult to choose the right tool vendors as there are multiple boutique shops that offer customized frameworks and script-less automation frameworks.

#5) The Test Management tools have been completely integrated with the test life cycle and on the fly customized reports are generated.

#6) Integration with different vendor tools sets in terms of requirements management, test management, test script execution, defect management is easily managed by the team which gives more flexibility in choosing the appropriate vendors/tools.

#7) Multiple customized utilities that help the testers to reduce the redundant manual work have been created and promoted as differentiators by the independent testing vendors and some are even pricing them on the value client gets.

Let us come back to the question which we asked at the beginning of this article – “Is a dedicated automation tester required or still automation holds a key as a career ladder?

While one can agree that test automation has become much simpler and manual tester with good business knowledge can pick up automation, the expectation from an automation expert has gone to a different level. Anyone can execute the test automation scripts created by an expert.

However, there are different skill sets with more technical knowledge which cannot be easily acquired by a manual tester overnight.

Manual vs Automation

Test automation experts are expected to give the overall automation strategy for the entire product/application lifecycle – gone are the days when they were requested to automate the already finalized test cases or scenarios.

They need to identify the right set of tools for each stage of the life cycle and give a seamless integration strategy which is cost-effective. No client is ready to wait for 6 to 8 cycles to get the return on investment. Apart from that, they are expected to define and develop multiple sets of utilities that reduce the redundant manual testing work and test data generation work.

To conclude, Test automation experts will remain strong as technical professionals and yet the standard redundant part of test automation (sounds familiar? – history repeats) may get merged with the group testing.

About Author – Gunasekaran Veerapillai (Guna) worked as Test Project Manager in Think soft, HCL Technologies and Covansys (CSC).  Currently, he is working as Competency Head in Wipro Technologies Testing Services. With 30+ years of experience in Banking Industry and IT, Guna is specialized in Test Portfolio assessments, Test process assessments and Automation assessments for many BFSI clients.

Guna has co-authored a book called Software Testing and Continuous Quality Improvement Third Edition, along with Bill Lewis. He also presents papers on International Software Quality conferences conducted by QAI.

Over to you

Do you work or want to work on Test automation? You must be facing some challenges in implementing the automation framework. Please do not hesitate to put your queries in the comments below. I'll make sure to get those addressed from the Guna.

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74 thoughts on “Test Automation – Is it a Specialized Career? Can Normal Testers Do Automation Also?”

  1. Agree, manual to automation expert can’t happen overnight. But there is scope for business testers to become automation testers with right attitude.

  2. Well, while using opensource tools which use a complete OO programming language, do you think that a non-IT guy can do the coding ?

  3. i am a automation engineer ,usually i just create scripts with .net from predefined test cases …i want to understand below lines in more detail…..can you please explain ,or provide me some material regarding that……..

    Test automation experts are expected to give the overall automation strategy for the entire product/application life cycle – gone are the days when they were requested to automate the already finalized test cases or scenarios. They need to identify the right set of tools for each stages of life cycle and given a seamless integration strategy which is cost effective. No client is ready to wait 6 to 8 cycles to get the return on investment. Apart from that, they are expected to define and develop multiple set of utilities which reduces the redundant manual testing work and test data generation work…………

  4. Play & Record functionality can not do complete automation script. User need to do scripting logic to enhance automation script.

  5. Nice article…
    I am working as a tester but no automation…
    I have a little programming knowledge in C.
    Now if i have to take up testing as my career what i have to do ? like should i take up software testing course or something else? Please guide me .
    Thank You

  6. That was a really nice article. What is the scope of a Non-IT guy who don’t have a programming knowledge as an Automation Tester. Can he be able to compete with the Auto Testers who are from Programming background……?? And how his future wil be…

  7. I am working as a tester but no automation…
    I have no knowledge in any of programming lanaguge .
    Now if i have to take up testing as my career what i have to do ? what i ahve to learn to became a automation tester. i should go for learning c, database .please guide .

  8. Good article…
    I am working as a Tester. We will do only manul testing, I am interested in automation testing, I know to use the tolls like Qtp 9.2( using VB scripting)load runner etc.. and have programming knowledge also how can I move to automation pls guide me, also tell me we have good career in testing?

  9. hi , i am working as a manual tester and want to learn automation
    i have basic knowledge of java and selenium ide , i want to know from where i have to start automation

  10. HI,

    I was also in manual testing & recently a one & half year back i just transformed in to automation side.Now, I can say that i have some good automation skills.

    It’s all about attitude & how you take efforts to aquaire specific skills, it may involve high risk which can impact deliverables to client.But its all about how you do improvisation & deliver with minimum short-comings.

    keep learning & grab the knowledge,discuss with experienced automation experts on issues,observe small detail things,always ask questions..!!These factors are important to become automation expert..!!

    All d Best..!!

    Vishal
    (Next Time Don’t DO it,Automate it..!!)

  11. Hi I am working as a Manual tester and I want to learn Automation..I request you to guide me which automation tool should i learn? i want to learn open source tool. Tell me Good opensource tool

  12. Thanks ! Nice Article.

    Yes . I do agree that automation experts will remain strongly as a technical professionals. I do automation testing from last 1 & half year on Java & networking (with regression approach) its really a challenging job where you need to complete task with tight deadlines & have to do 100% analysis of failed case.For analysing failed cases one must have good knowledge of language with which tool has been developed.

  13. Hi

    Thanks for sharing useful article like this… I am working as a manual tester for mobile application. I am very interesting to learn automation tool..

    So i startup with Apache-Jmeter testing tool, can u suggest please is it good one.. :-)

  14. Hi
    I would like to say this article the was posted on right time as the QA industry is moving fast from manual to automated testing or script generated testing.
    Having experience of 5 years working as manual tester now I am struggling to continue in this field because of lack of experience in automation tools.
    Fact is that now a days employers prefer testers only those who have some basic programming/coding skills .
    There is no question of can normal testers do automation if they are looking for a testing career then they must, Otherwise manual testers won’t survive long.

  15. It is a very good article. Though automation has become integral part of the STLC, there are projects where automation is being handled by specialized people. Especially, in agile environment, developers and automation specialists are supporting functional test automation. It is well said in the article “No client is ready to wait 6 to 8 cycles to get the return on investment”.
    Thanks for a nice article.

  16. @ zubair – Coding in these test automation skill does not require in depth knowledge on these languages. You can always pick up easily if you have right attitude to learn. I never had coding experience in the first 15 years of my life and I learnt all these over the last decade.

    @ Bharat – The role of automation experts has changed very much during the last few years. Automation architects are expected to give a cost effective solution which will give quicker ROI. As Risk based testing, we need to identfy the critical business secnarios which if automated will give continous and greater benefit to clients. Identifying the right set of testing tools and automating the entire test life cycle is expected from automation experts.

    @ Rajiv kumar singh – While QTP overrides seleniums’ area of coverage, selenium has established very well in the market – may be except BFSI clients, most of them started using selenium. While QTP is a commercial tool with good support , selenium is still depends on the open soruce community.

    @ vivek @ Lakshmi- Testing as an career is great. To become an automation expert learn tools like selenium and create scripts in the projects where you are working. Add value in the project and differentiate yourself.

  17. Thanks!! Good Article..
    i was working as a manual tester.. now am automation tester.. Scripting is realy a different thing and very challenging job.. i enjoy doing scripting…

  18. The concept of automated testing well explained, currently working as PHP Developer looking for switch in Software testing ,let me know how my experience useful in software testing

  19. Nice article..
    I am working as a tester but no automation…
    now i want to learn automation testing.
    I have a little programming knowledge in C.
    Now if i have to take up testing as my career what i have to do ? like should i take up software testing course or something else? Please guide me .
    Thank You

  20. As I mentioned elsewhere, to become an automation tester, we need only basics of programming languages as the testing tool guides the developer. But you should continously work on this. Try automating some of your test cases using selenium. you will learn by yourself.

  21. Its a nice article and all other article which are posted in this site are also very helpful, this software testing help website is great. helping many people to choose the right field and answers their quires regarding testing.. i just want to say thanks to the founder of this site.. great work done sir g.. continue to doing that it help us a lot….

  22. It’s really worth to see that most of the comments similar to others especially they recommend Selenium and QTP. Since Selenium available in Open Source Market, people prefer to select Selenium Tool. Thanks for your advice Guna, let me get into Selenium and will be back shortly with lot of questions.

  23. i’m fresher,i like to work in your company.
    Since I am fresher, so I don’t have any work experience. But I want to learn more with others and do my at level best. i know .net and i can work in that..
    i update the resume in your sit ..
    please do me needful..
    thank you

  24. Great article, i am interested in gaining test automation skills especially in selenium. will be back with questions, especially on automation

  25. Hi,
    I am Priyanka Sahu. I have one year experience in manual testing. I have all the basic knowledge of Vbscript , QTP, Advanced Qtp. QC. I want to be expertise in this area. I want to know whic are the certification or any other courses to make myself skilled in this area. I want to learn selenium and java also. Please reply to my answers.

  26. Priyanka
    Please undergo some training and practice. Certifications are costly and may not necessarily help you. You practical experience will come out in the interview which will help you. Selenium and java are good options. please proceed

  27. Gunasekaran Veerapillai

    Hi,
    Guna ur artical is good. I want to learn automation tool which one will help me in long stand is it QTP or SELENIUM/ Load runner – Which training center in chennai where i can get pratical training. Currently i jobless can u help me by giving ur valuable guidance.
    Thanks

  28. Hi
    started by career in it dept of bank and joing IT in manual testing in Banking domain. I have tested financial products one for backoffice reconciliation and another for transaction monitoring. This took me 5 years. Now, overall 7+ yrs in manual testing , very hard to find oppurtunities. If i decide to take automation, how my exp. would be counted? as there could be more numbers in automation industry? is it wise to takeup any automation tool now? then how my previous 7 yrs would be considered ? How much importance would be given to my exp 7yrs in manual & beginner in automation? Your expertise in testing carreer would help me in resolving my problem areas.
    THanks in advance

  29. Hello sir
    As I am working in testing field in mobile application company and i want to grow with the testing field and want to switch in the white box testing as i have done MCA having programming knowledge, please give me guide line to explore my testing career.

  30. Hi , I want to switch my career to testing and have no experience in testing . If i start with ISQTB and then learn those testing tools and languages can i get into this field. thanks for your help.

  31. SIR
    I KNOW THE THEORICAL CONCEPT OF JAVA AND CURRENTLY WORKING IN MANUAL TESTING. BUT I WANT TO LEARN SELENIUM AND LOADRUNNER.SO CAN I UNDERSTAND THE ALL THE CONCEPT WITHOUT CODING KNOWLEDGE??. PLEASE GIVE SUGGESTION.AND HOW MUCH PROGRAMMING KNOWLEDGE ARE REQUIRED TO LEARN THESE TOOLS AND APPLY ON SOME PROJECT

  32. Hi. I have 12 months of experince in manual testing.I know the basics of JAVA and SQL.
    Now i got opprtunity in 1.ETL Testing and 2.Automation testing ( SELENIUM ).
    Please advice which one to choose for better career growth.

  33. Nice article..
    I am working as a tester but no automation…
    now i want to learn automation testing.
    I have a little programming knowledge in C.
    Now if i have to take up testing as my career what i have to do ? like should i take up software testing course or something else? Please guide me .
    Thank You

  34. hi… I just completed my BTECH (ECE, 2012 PASSOUT, 69%).. so, can anyone tell me .. is it a good option to choose a software testing as a career for making money for skilled person .. do you feel its a interesting job & better option for making maoney, comapre to software developer???…. what might be the salary of an software test engineer wit 2 yrs of experience??..

  35. I am working in software testing(manual) and want to shift in Automation with It background is it a fruitful decission for me?pls inform me and give me any suggestion how can i learn automation testing??if any institute address or something is given to me in kolkata i will be greatful to u.
    Thanking you
    Pradipta–IT–2011(B.tech)

  36. Hi, Nice artical. I just started to read about testing tools and i started to read manual testing. Please give an advice do i need to start on manual or Automation.

  37. I am working as a Manual Tester for Web sites from last 1 year. I have knowledge of C,PHP,MySQl. I want to get shifted into Automation. Which scripting language do i need to learn Pearl,Shell or any other. I need your guidance. Do i need to learn QTP/WinRunner/Load Runner. Please help me.
    Neeraj (M.Sc.(Computer Science))
    9922227448

  38. too good article..thanks for the same..im in manual testing and surely above blog show me the way to move to autoamation… but please let me know, as my company dont have any automation tool..how one should move to manual to automation?? awaiting your reply..Thanks..;)

  39. Hi ,
    Nice article..i m in manual testing how can i improve myself in automation , if i know automation from outside means also how can i implement or show my knowledge in this field.

  40. Couldn’t agree more with the below lines –

    “Test automation experts are expected to give the overall automation strategy for the entire product/application life cycle – gone are the days when they were requested to automate the already finalized test cases or scenarios.”

    This is what I have been seeing from some time…

  41. Great Article Guna!!!
    I am a Manual Tester. Recently I have started learning Selenium. Let me tell you guys I don’t have any programming background. Still I find Selenium & Java are easy to learn and implement.
    Any of you planning to start Selenium, go for Selenium Webdriver. Its really great tool. I have fallen in love with it :)

  42. Hello,
    I am working as a Senior test engineer and testing mobile applications and that too manually. i am from electronics background and now my experience is around 4+ years.i am finding it difficult to change the domain as i have not got any automation experience , and also the knowledge of any programming language. it has been very haphazard situation for me.please let me know where to start from to get into automation and get in some good organization to enhance my skills.

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