6 min read

QA Automation Testing vs. Automation Engineer: Evaluating the Two Positions

With Good Program Architecture, Debugging is a Breeze, because Bugs will be Where they Should be – David May

Imagine two boxes in front of you. One is painted black, with a big red circle on top; while the other is painted white, with a big red circle on top. This red circle is common to both the boxes; however, are the boxes same in terms of appearance. The answer will definitely be a NO. In spite of the common red circle, the first box is black; while the other is white. The same logic applies to the issue of SDET vs. Automation Engineer as well.

Both IT professionals happen to be associated with the software testing phase of the Software Development Life Cycle. Moreover, they do have certain common responsibilities, leading many to use the two terms interchangeably. However, technically, this is not correct. Consequently, the difference between a Software Development Engineer in Test and a Test Automation Engineer is what shall be accounted for in this blog.

In this blog, we shall take up the issue of Automation Engineer vs. SDET. The comparative framework will be built on the basis of similarity as well as difference between SDET and Automation Engineer.

Another loosely used term which is confused with that of SDET is that of Tester. If you wish to read more on the difference between the two, do read our blog on Difference between SDET and TESTER.

What is SDET?

SDET stands for Software Development Engineer in Test. The position refers to an IT professional who happens to remain engaged, both in the development as well as testing of the software. The role of a SDET can be understood as an intermediate one, between a purely tester role and a purely developer role.

These are professionals who are skilled in Software Development as well as Quality Engineering. They not only participate in developing test cases and writing test scripts, but SDET testing also helps in fixing bugs as part of the process. Thus, they help in replacing repetitive manual testing with automation. Their responsibilities include test automation tool development development as also creating test automation frameworks.

What is SDET

If you wish to know more about the position of a Software Development Engineer in Test, along with developing an idea about their key role and responsibilities within an organization; do read our blog on SDET Meaning: The Future of Software Testing.

Given the association of SDETs with the phase of software testing as well as given their test automation capabilities; it is quite commonplace to consider them as substitutes for Automation Engineers. However, this is not entirely true and it is definitely important to evaluate the issue of SDET vs. Test Automation Engineers.

Who is an Automation Engineer?

A Test Automation Engineer is essentially someone who is responsible for automating solutions for software processes. They are mandated to devise and modify existing technology so that it requires less human interaction.

Automation Engineers are required to work in close liaison with other teams for identifying and eliminating issues by acquiring requirements and executing process test automation. In the position of an Automation Engineer, you will be required to:

  • Look for suitable opportunities for test automation within software processes
  • Build and run QA Automation Tests as well as execute tests with automation scripts for systems, applications, hardware, software and network
  • Detect Quality Issues and Bugs in business processes
  • Implementation of the Project Structure
  • Acquire requirements from end-users and clients for developing the best automation solution
  • Collation of the Process

Within the category of Test Automation Engineer, happens to be the group of Automation QA Engineer. An Automation QA Engineer is responsible for conducting automated testing for the purpose of evaluating the functionality of the software end products. As a Quality Assurance Engineer, they help in determining quality, albeit, they do so with the help of test automation tools, unlike QA Manual Testers who largely rely on Manual Testing.

If you wish to read in detail about the professional job role of an QA Automation Engineer, do check out our blog on “What is QA Automation and What is QA Automation Engineer?

Key responsibilities of an Automation Engineer

Automation Testing: The Common field between an SDET and Automation Engineer

Automated testing is a point of commonality between SDET and Automation Engineer because it is an important part of both roles. It involves writing automated scripts to test the functionality, reliability, and performance of software applications. Both SDETs and Automation Engineers must be familiar with a variety of automation testing tools, techniques, processes, and best practices in order to ensure the quality of their software products.

Additionally, both roles are responsible for planning, executing, and reporting on the results from their automated tests. By sharing this common responsibility for test automation activities, SDETs and Automation Engineers can collaborate more effectively to create high-quality products quickly and efficiently.

SDET vs. Automation Engineer: Similarities

The issue of Automation Engineer vs. SDET might not necessarily be one of divergence. A comprehensive comparison shall take into account, the point of similarities between the two roles as well. Accordingly, we shall look at some of the common professional responsibilities which both Software Development Engineer and Automation Engineers are expected to undertake.

  • Writing Automation Scripts for conducting Test Automation
  • Managing Test Servers
  • Using Test Automation Tools and other testing tools for smooth execution of tests

In fact, most of the Companies do not really differentiate between the two positions of that of an SDET and an Automation Engineer. Thus, in that sense, the topic of SDET vs. Test Automation Engineer becomes meaningless.

Automation Engineer vs. SDET: Dissimilarities

In this section, we shall look at the difference between SDET and Automation Engineer, in a synoptic tabular format.

Another professional whose role and responsibilities is often confused with that of an SDET is a Quality Analyst. In order to acquire a clearer picture on this topic, do read our blog on “SDET vs QA: Digging into the Domain of Software Testing


By the end of this blog, I am pretty sure that you must have been convinced that the point of SDET vs. Automation Engineer is not necessarily of one against the other. The difference between SDET and Automation Engineer is more on technical grounds; while in reality, there is considerable overlap in the responsibilities of the two positions, to the extent that many companies do not even consider the two as distinctive job designations. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of even the minute technical aspects of the two and consequently, the topic of Automation Engineer vs. SDET is a real one.

SDETs are in high demand in business organizations, cutting across industries. Their diverse skills and expertise, have only helped to boost their requirement. Moreover, the increasing significance of Automation Testing as opposed to Manual Testing, is only indicative of further giving the position of SDETs, a major push.

We, at Syntax Technologies, offer you an unparalleled opportunity for developing expertise as a seasoned QA Automation Tester. Check out our QA Automation Training course.

sdet automation certification course

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