“Software testers are the unsung heroes of the software development life cycle” - Maged Koshty (Udemy for Business Instructor)
The given statement by Maged Koshty hints at two specific ideas, that of software testing and the software development process. Historically, the two notions have been related to two separate domains which form an integral part of the complete software development process.
However, in due course of time, the need for test automation and to increase reliability and efficiency resulted in the need to adopt an intermediate position where the role of a tester and a developer meet. This middle position is the answer to what is a Software Development Engineer in Test.
In this blog, we will try to understand the whole idea behind the position of a SDET in an organization. This will be explained in terms of:
- What is SDET?
- Difference between SDET and TESTER
- Why are SDET’s needed?
- SDET Skills: Hard Skills/Soft Skills
- Roles and Responsibilities of SDET
- SDET Career: SDET Jobs Available
- SDET Salary Expectations
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.
Thus, a simplest response to who is a Software Development Engineer in Test, would look at it as professionals who are skilled in Software Development as well as Quality Engineering. They not only participate in developing and writing test scripts, but SDET testing also helps in fixing bugs as part of the process. Thus, they help in replacing repetitive manual software testing with automation software testing, carried out with the help of test automation tools.
It is important to understand the evolution of the role of a SDET. There has been an increasing realization that in order to provide for market responsiveness, it is important to do away with the traditional division between the process of writing codes and that of testing its quality.
This resulted in testers participating in the process of code development right from the initial stage. This expert is an asset for the organizations as he can write as well as test codes and this professional is known as Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET).
Difference between SDET and TESTER
The role of a Software Development Engineer in Test is an intermediate position between a developer and a tester. Thus, there is always a possibility of overlap between the roles of a SDET and that of a manual tester, who happens to be predominantly concerned with manual testing. A comparison between the two is an important point of consideration as we seek to understand the role of SDET.
Why are SDET’s needed?
Before the release of any product, there are some basic features which must be in functional form for every product. This means that these features are constant and in every sprint, some additional ones are added and thus the new as well as the existing functionality must be tested every time.
Given that agile development is fast paced; testers are often faced with time crunch and are not in a position to test everything manually. However, when testers are not capable of writing automated checks, they have no choice but to test everything manually. If this happens, testing becomes an important bottleneck which results in unnecessary delay in the release of the product. Thus, recruitment of SDETs can be highly beneficial for the organizations as it helps in automating much of the manual tasks and testing processes.
This brings us to the point of why organizations need SDETs. SDET testing covers the idea of development as well as testing and is able to provide organizations with the benefits which are not possible to be acquired through manual testers.
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Benefits of SDET professional:
- These professionals possess expertise in direct dealing with customers. Moreover, apart from being a tester, they possess engineering skills as well (SDET Engineer) and is thus able to think like a developer
- In conducting SDET testing, they are able to automate tests by making use of their coding skills and programming skills
- They possess expertise in building, deploying, managing and executing applications individually on multiple application platforms
- SDET skills are such that they are able to have a say within the design team, development team and program management team on different issues which concern the end user
SDET Skills: Hard Skills/Soft Skills
A SDET job can be seen as a mixture of the right balance of technical skills and testing aptitude. As such, SDET skills would cover technical as well as non-technical skills.
- Adaptive: SDETs need to have an open mindset. This implies that they should be receptive to the needs of changing technology and should be willing to learn new tools and scripting languages which would help them in performing SDET testing tasks.
- Great Communicator: It is important that SDET software professionals have excellent written and verbal communication skills. Since they are responsible for not only conducting tests, but also need to produce bug reports and test strategies, it is important that they are easily understandable.
- Exploratory aptitude: SDETs are required to dive into the unknown. For instance, there can be a routine activity which needs to be performed over and over again and takes a lot of time. The mindset of a SDET should be such that he should be able to think of ways by which he could reduce the effort involved in the task by developing strategies for performing test automation and developing high performance code.
- Organization and time management skills: The SDET job is quite demanding and it is important that they should be able to manage workload efficiently, have time management skills as well as high productivity.
- Should have knowledge of programming languages like Java, .NET, C# and others
- Understanding of the different test automation framework and test scenarios, methods and tools like Selenium WebDriver, MS Test, Test NG and so on
- Being able to work with “AGILE + DevOps” process management methodology
- Should be able to identify and detect thresholds and bottlenecks with the aid of automation tools
- They should have an idea of Behavior Driven Development
- Knowledge of Object-Oriented Design
Roles and Responsibilities of SDET
A SDET job is expected to entail the given key responsibilities:
- As a SDET Engineer: Given that SDET possess engineering skills as well; they happen to be involved in data design, product design as well as user interfaces
- As a customer spokesperson: SDETs can be considered as some sort of a link between those who make and those who use the product. They strive to understand the requirement for a product from the perspective of the customer and since they are involved at every stage of its development, till its final release; they are the best advocate who can justify the need of the developed software
- Automation solutions: SDETs have a crucial responsibility of automating as many scenarios as possible. This means that they are required to build high quality and robust test automation solutions, along with testing tools, for performance, functional and regression testing
- Functional as well as non-functional testing: Testers have an important responsibility of testing products from the perspective of its functionality. However, the non-functional aspect which pays attention to such things as the security of the application, the absence of any hacks which could be misused and so on; should be paid equal attention to. SDETs contribute to both function as well as functional areas of testing. Thus, their focus is on different test scenarios
- Important channel of communication: SDETs are responsible for investigating customer problems which are referred by the technical support team. They are also engaged in technical communication with Partners in order to understand the client’s system
- Designing: SDETs are also involved in architectural design discussions and help in providing effective feedback.
In order to acquire a more detailed understanding of the professional responsibilities of a Software Development Engineer in Test, do read our blog on "SDET Roles and Responsibilities: Making sense of this Professional Position"
SDET Career: SDET Jobs Available
The career path of a SDET can be understood to proceed in a given direction:
- Junior SDET
- Experience level (From fresher to 3 years)
- Role: Responsible for creating automation test scripts, participating in bug analysis and producing bug reports, and writing test cases.
- Senior SDET
- Experience level (From 3 to 7 years)
- Role: Responsible for working with different test automation frameworks, looking into technical issues and solutions, being involved in software architectural design, ensuring product scalability, striving for optimum software performance, supervising juniors and so on.
- SDET Manager
- Experience level (From 7 to 10 years)
- Role: Responsible for working in collaboration with Sr. SDET, the managing team and other departments.
- Test Architect
- Experience level (From 10 to 15 years)
- Role: Responsible for designing software architecture, for collaborating with clients as well as for supervising test and development teams for any kind of technical dependencies.
- Managing Director
- Experience level (From 15 years onwards)
- Role: Responsible for regulating the operation of business, providing strategic guidance to the management team as well as making sure that the Company achieves its targeted objectives.
SDET Salary Expectations
The salary structure for a SDET job varies from company to company and region to region; however, on the whole, it is quite a lucrative career prospect wherein SDETs are guaranteed of a handsome compensation package.
The average SDET salary in U.S.A is $117,000. Thus, the range is usually from $90,000 to $140,000. Additionally, educational qualification, competencies, certifications and years of experience, are also bound to have an impact on the final package that a person receives.
It is evident that an SDET commands a handsome remuneration package and is currently in high demand too. If you too are an aspiring Software Developer Engineer, check out our blog on "Top 25 SDET Interview Questions"
It is important to remember that the position of Software Development Engineers in Test, is quite unique. He is an all-rounder who happens to embody several skills in one person. They possess the right blend of being a developer as well as a tester.
They have domain knowledge, participate in software designing, have experience in coding and are customer advocates who are receptive to the expectations of the end-users. These factors are responsible for making SDETs highly valuable for organizations.
Given the massive opportunities available for SDET career aspirants; there is a lot to gain from a SDET job. This is a budding field and as more and more organizations is looking to recruit people who can prove to perform much more than just the assigned role of a developer or a tester; SDETs have much to gain.
We, at Syntax Technologies, provide you with an outstanding opportunity to acquire expertise in the field of being a SDET.