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Automation Tester: The Most Important Skills

Automation Tester: The Most Important Skills in 2023

Are you that person who enjoys pointing out everybody else's mistakes? Do you thrive with digging thru countless lines of similar looking text? Do you love when everything works perfectly, but fixing stuff just isn’t your thing? Congrats! We have a perfect career path for you! Why don’t you become an automation tester? In this article we will present essential Automation Tester Skills.

OK, let’s set things straight. Testers are not THAT bad. In fact they are a key element in the current IT world. Without the tests and people performing testing processes, we would probably still be stuck in the cyber stone age. As a company hardcoded into the testing world, we prepared a few pointers for all wannabes.

this is test automation

What is Automation Testing?

First of all, what is testing? Testing a website or an application is like playing detective and a 3 year old at the same time. You are trying to find a way to damage a given application and put much effort into doing so. You try out different patterns or put in the most absurd information you can imagine and then you see and report what the app actually did. Your job is to beat the users to the start in finding imperfections in the software.

Given that, let’s focus on automation testing. This time your detective skills are substituted by a robot. Imagine you have to follow a 20-step instruction on what to try and break on a website and you have to do it a hundred times. It is better to automate this process isn’t it? Test automation is basically programming the robot that would click all the necessary buttons and put in all necessary data etc.

All newbie information aside - here is one sentence that could supplement the chit-chat above.

Test automation is a practice of using specific tools and scripts to automate executing the testing process for a given application.

Automation Tester Skills - Market Needs

From a philosophical point of view the world is between the knowledge based industry era and web based industry era. This of course reflects on where the most money is made, not all the money. Businesses and industries continue to embrace digital transformation and more and more jobs are created within the IT world including more automation tester jobs. This means the role of quality assurance and automation testers has become pivotal in ensuring the quality and efficiency of software products.

The rapid growth of software applications and web services has escalated the complexity of testing requirements. Manual testing alone can be time-consuming and error-prone, making automation an essential solution to execute repetitive tasks efficiently and consistently. Automation testers develop scripts that mimic user interactions, leading to quicker test cycles and faster time-to-market for software releases.

What Skills are Required to Land You One of the Test Automation Jobs?

We have created a list of 10 most essential skills to switch your career into QA automation. It does not reflect any specific programming language. Whether you are proficient with python, java or any other, you will be able to perform automated tests. But performing them and becoming a successful test automation engineer are two completely different stories.

  1. Being a Good Manual Tester
  2. Understanding of Software Development Methodologies
  3. Analytical and Problem-solving Abilities
  4. Understanding of Business Requirements
  5. Automated Test Design and Execution
  6. Proficiency in a Programming Language
  7. Knowledge of Test Automation Frameworks and Tools
  8. Knowledge of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
  9. Communication and Collaboration skills
  10. Adaptability and Continuous learning

Skill 1: Being a Good Manual Tester

This one is quite obvious. If your job would be to automate any process, it would be best to have a rather thorough understanding of that given process right? Testing is no different. A good QA automation tester has already gone thru multiple testing projects. He or she is able to write test cases, test scripts and test scenarios almost from the top of his/her head. It would be best to know a thing or two about Selenium (the father of most testing tools) as well.

There are also many softer skills required. We will not go into details just yet, since those will be reflected in our list below. This all is essential because you need a strong foundation and context for understanding testing as a process. If you need an example, do go back to your newbie days with software development.

I personally cursed my teachers for having me write database connections by hand why that could be done with a few clicks in my IDE. But would I ever understand how this connection works just by doing those few clicks? No. The same would happen if you would start learning tests in your test automation tool not in your code.

Skill 2: Understanding of Software Development Methodologies

It is our opinion that every software tester needs to have a solid understanding of software development methodologies. Those reflect how the development process is performed and from the testers' perspective they show, when would be their time to shine.

Depending on the chosen methodology software tests are performed either during or after development. Knowing if you use waterfall, agile or a less popular approach is crucial for testing strategy and work planning.

While working in waterfall test execution takes place only after the whole development phase is completed. It has its pros and cons, but this approach is becoming less and less popular over the years.

The agile approach enables you to start automation testing after each cycle of development is complete. The work is being done in shorter periods (called for example sprints in Scrum methodology). It enables a quicker human intervention after a bug is found but on the other hand enforces regression testing between each version of the software.

Skill 3: Analytical and Problem-solving Abilities

This is a must have for all testing jobs actually. We know that the job title says "tester" and the first impression would be that you should be a problem-finder not a problem-solver. That would be the case if you want to become a "forever junior automation tester". Switching from finder to solver is actually a good path for a quick promotion. Your problem-solving skills are essential for creating or changing automation scripts, improving test coverage and testing time.

Analytical skills are even more obvious. What do you do with error logs? You analyse them. How do you prepare test scenarios? You analyse user behavior. How do you prepare regression tests? You analyse changes in the code. Should we keep it coming? We think that is enough.

Strong analytical skills are essential for the automation testing process. You can not really debug an app without the thorough analysis of needs and requirements from the user perspective.

Skill 4: Understanding of Business Requirements

This is strongly connected to the skills we mentioned above. Testing a software seems like a boring and nerdish thing to do. Those first two letters in a QA engineer position stand for Quality Assurance. Your job is to ensure that the software your team is developing is of the highest possible quality. It does not end in writing clean code or using up-to-date libraries or bundles. You can write an app that the IT theoreticians will write papers on, but you might never sell it if it does not fit customer needs.

Functional testing is one of the aspects where you will need to have the most understanding of business requirements. You need to understand why a given functionality was placed into the code.

Most of the time you will also need to know why it was created in a given way. Would you push for a drivers license scan upon registration for a childrens' app? It is one of the most important automation tester's tasks to be in touch with the sales and marketing in order to ensure great quality.

Skill 5: Automated Test Design and Execution

On one hand it seems obvious in order to test software you need to create and execute tests. On the other, isn't test automation something that would enable me not to create as much cases? There is much more to this skill that meets the eye.

A proper automation test suite needs to have great test coverage. Secondly those suites need to be properly optimized - they should focus on essential test cases and avoid redundancy. This will allow to perform less tests, use less resources and less time. Yes, you are right, this comes with experience.

One of the benefits of automation testing is to quickly and repeatedly replicate the users' behavior. A skilled test creator can create scripts and cases that mimic those actions accurately.

Skill 6: Proficiency in a Programming Language

You read it correctly - we put "a" there on purpose. Most automated test tools nowadays do not require the user to write actual code inside them. They run on low-code and no-code basis.

Why would you need those skills though?

Being proficient in software development means that you are able to think as a developer. Testing will not ask you for an opinion in the "4 spaces vs a tab" dilemma. It will require you to understand how and why the app is being developed.

This is the foundation of your job. Many testing tools available on the market (BugBug included) will advertise themselves as a solution that can be used by non-technical personnel. While this is completely true, it is not a perfect scenario. Imagine (with all due respect to my fellow PMs) a PM performing security tests without any technical background.

Software development is one of the key skills needed to be a good tester. This is what actually differs between testers and test performers.

Skill 7: Knowledge of Test Automation Frameworks and Tools

Depending on which programming language you know the best, you will probably also have a go-to testing framework. They usually lay a foundation for your software testing technique or skillset. While there are a few that changed the testing market forever (all hail Selenium!), you might have touched something even we never heard of.

A proper knowledge of a testing framework helps to streamline the testing process as well as enhances collaboration within and among teams.

Knowing the tools available in the market is also beneficial. First of all, in order to land a QA tester job, you need to know at least one tool by heart. You need to be able to tell the recruiter that "I am a .... guy/girl". (putting BugBug instead of the dots will not hurt you - promise!).

Framework, experience and tool will create a portfolio that you can present to anyone. Yes, testing as well as other IT jobs sometimes require a portfolio. Even if it is not mention in the job ad, it is good to have one!

Skill 8: Knowledge of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery

Relax. We are not trying to merge testers and devops duties into one person. PHP and JS have that covered 😃

CI/CD became a norm in recent years. It is essential for you to know where does your job fit into the processes.  With proper CD/CI in place, the results of your testing may and even should be able to automatically abort moving the software to further environments. You need to be flexible in order to blend into the process. The "my way or the highway" approach might get you fired because you lack the...

Skill 9: Communication and Collaboration skills

We have reached the soft skills outskirts of this article. We have already described the way you will cooperate with the sales department and the devops. We left the most obvious out - the developers. Cooperation requires the will of both parties.

For starters don't be that guy/girl everyone in the company is reluctant to meet. They do not like you already since you are pointing out their mistakes 😃 Try to be positive and encouraging. Remember when you point out a finger at someone, the other four are pointing towards you.

There are two levels of communication for test engineers. Human to human is something we learn all our lives. When you want to refer to testing software let's focus for a moment on bug reporting.

You will probably be the one creating bug reporting paths. Try to include as many relevant information as you can. This will make the developers' job easier. Don't overdo it though. It is your job to dig thru error logs. Do not create "spaghetti reports" which consume too much time.

Skill 10: Adaptability and Continuous learning

We mentioned in our previous articles (i.e. on test automation tools - here) about the need to choose proper tools for different types of automation. It is good to have your go-to tool. It is better to be able to adapt to different tools. You might join a team that (for any purpose actually) uses a tool you never heard of? Would they change their policy cause you came on board, Superstar?

Adaptability reaches out way further than using new automation testing tools. There will be different projects, set-ups, teams and many more. Like in the Moneyball movie - adapt or die.

Our industry is a great example how the only constant thing in the universe is change. If you really follow the market you will confirm that literally every day there is a paper or an article coming out, that might change something in your work.

The same is with tools, libraries, software, procedures and many many more. It is extremally hard to be up to date with all of this. But you have to.

If there is one job aspect where the testers have it better than the others, it is the certification.

Even with very limited experience you can start learning and in the end obtain a globally recognized certificate. It will quite frankly boost your resume. They differ in scope and pricing so you will have to choose certification that will prove value to you and the projects you foresee joining.

Five most popular ones are:

Being an automation tester is no easy feat. Your job requires a big stack of technical and soft skills plus it is of utmost strategical importance to your company. But highly qualified specialists will easily be able to land a job on their conditions. We keep our fingers crossed for your career and make sure to include BugBug to your testing portfolio.

FAQ

Who is an Automation Tester?

A software engineer who uses specific tools and scripts to automate executing testing for a given application.

What does an Automation Tester do?

An automation tester designs, develops, and executes automated test scripts to ensure the quality and reliability of software applications.

How to become an Automation Tester?

One would need some experience performing manual tests, have good understanding of testing as a process.

What are the responsibilities of a Tester in automation tests?

The responsibilities of a tester in automation tests include designing, developing, and running automated test scripts, identifying defects, analyzing test results, and collaborating with the team to enhance software quality.

What skills do you need to be an Automation Tester?

Being an automated test engineer you need to have 3 groups of skills: programming skills, testing skills and soft skills. Browse this article for detailed description.

Does an Automation Tester need Coding skills?

A good one definitely does. Most of the modern tools for automated testing process are "no-code" or "low-code", but having coding skills allows you not only to create test scripts of a higher quality but to think as a developer.

Happy (automated) testing!

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Marcin Łojewski

Software Developer

Software developer currently working as a tech writer and PM.
linkedin.com/in/marcin-%C5%82ojewski-a4191518/

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