Software Development Engineer in Test

Who is Software Development Engineer in Test?

The term SDET or Software Development Engineer in Test originated from Microsoft. An SDET is an IT professional who plays a significant role in the software development life cycle and is involved in the design, development and testing phases of the SDLC. He or she is responsible to make sure that at the end of the day, the product the team is working on, is of high quality, defect-free and robust.

Let’s try to understand what responsibilities are given to an SDET and what types of skills are expected from an SDET.

Roles and Responsibilities of an SDET

In this section, we will look at some common roles and responsibilities of an SDET, these will vary from organization to organization. These roles and responsibilities are gathered from various job portals such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.

  • Actively participate in cross-team design review.
  • Communicating with internal and external stakeholders regarding testing progress and timelines by providing testing reports and metrics.
  • Work with product & development teams to understand requirements.
  • Work with stakeholders and business analysis teams to identify risks and provide solutions.
  • Responsible to communicate across the QA and development teams; Sharing knowledge via QA training session.
  • Work with the development team and QA engineers to develop best practices for software quality assurance.
  • Work collaboratively with delivery teams to ensure timely project delivery.
  • Work with the development team to review unit test cases.
  • Create and keep track of the quality assurance metrics for continuous quality & process improvements.
  • Examine the existing testing processes (manual and automation both) and suggest improvements in terms of adoption of new approaches which can improve quality and shorten test cycles.
  • Responsible for understanding, designing and writing test scenarios and test cases; updating test cases based on the requirement changes.
  • Responsible for bug classification & analysis using defect tracking tools such as JIRA, Bugzilla, Mantis.
  • Responsible for planning, developing and maintaining automation framework on various platforms like web, mobile, and desktop.
  • Write and execute test scripts using automation tools like Selenium; Write UI, API automated tests.
  • Develop test scripts for performance testing.
  • Check the feasibility of requirements whether they could be automated or if there are some cases that must stay as manual.
  • Interact with partners and have technical discussions to understand external systems’ APIs.

Skills Required to become an SDET

  • Experience working on developing automation tools or frameworks
  • Excellent understanding of the REST APIs, HTTP 
  • Understanding of various testing methodologies
  • Strong understanding of algorithms and data structures
  • Understanding of database fundamentals and SQL Programming
  • Strong knowledge of programming and scripting languages
  • Problem-solving and strong analysis capabilities
  • A team player with the ability to collaborate and work with others; self-motivated and quick learner

Difference between SDET and Tester

An SDET is a different and more challenging role compared to the QA engineer. Let’s look at some important points to understand how an SDET and a QA engineer or Tester are different:

  • An SDET professional requires extensive knowledge and experience of programming. While a QA engineer needs knowledge of basic programming.
  • The role of an SDET begins from the design phase and ends at the testing phase (sometimes an SDET might be required in initial planning). The role of a QA engineer is limited only to the testing phase.
  • An SDET is responsible for developing and maintaining a generic automation framework that can be used on multiple platforms; an SDET is also responsible for writing automation test scripts in already available automation tools such as Selenium. A QA engineer is not expected to create automation tools, s/he only writes automation test scripts in automation tools like Selenium, Appium.
  • An SDET has a deep and thorough knowledge of the product being developed as s/he is involved in the product design and development discussions since the very beginning. A QA engineer is not familiar with the business side of the product.
  • An SDET should be able to understand the code written by the development team. A QA engineer is required to do only testing of the system.

How to transition from QA Engineer to SDET?

Let’s discuss some major points on how once can transition to an SDET role from a QA engineer, in brief.

There are lots of areas in which a QA engineer will need to invest himself for transitioning to an SDET as an SDET needs to perform broader and demanding tasks. But a QA engineer does not need to start everything at once. S/he can take advantage of the experience gained from working as a QA engineer and start at one point, and then eventually try to learn major tools/technologies that are expected from an SDET.

Programming is the biggest challenge for any QA engineer. QA engineers have knowledge of programming but not as adequate as the SDET role demands. So, the first step for any QA engineer who wants to transition into the role of an SDET is to learn programming at least in one language to start with, such as JAVA. Knowledge of at least one scripting language such as JavaScript is also required.
After gaining decent programming knowledge, QA engineer can proceed with other technologies that are required from an SDET such as Rest APIs, and performance testing tools, etc.

Road to SDET is a bit difficult but not impossible if the QA engineer is well versed with at least one automation tool.

Scope

If we look at the skills and roles that are expected from an SDET, we can conclude that it is a very vital role in the software development life cycle. As this role is spread across multiple SDLC phases, it is, and it will be in huge demand. Rather than hiring separate resources to perform manual testing, automation testing, and other development-testing related tasks, companies will prefer an SDET. An SDET is more than just manual and automation tester, s/he has a challenging position with a variety of responsibilities, that is not just limited to the testing phase of SDLC. 

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