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Guest Contribution

Learn About The Role Of A Software Developer Engineer In Test (SDET): A Beginner’s Guide

by Bryan Wesley

Testing has become more important than programming, but it requires a bigger budget for tools and resources. And the increasing demand for faster responsiveness calls for more traditional testers. Today, testers are needed already during code development, making them a great asset to modern organizations. That is why there is a high demand for people who can write and test codes based on certain requirements – such professionals are called Software Development Engineers in Test or SDET. SDETs are skilled professionals who are experts in the fields of both Quality Engineering and software development. Though it’s great that they exist, this creates some confusion over what truly constitutes an SDET's duties or responsibilities in today's workplace environment, where there seems to be more than one type of specialist under one title. Read further to learn about the role of a Software Developer Engineer in Test (SDET), along with the essential skills for an SDET.

The Role of an SDET

Contrary to what other people say, SDETs do more than just write scripts. Imagine a team of software engineers working for months to develop and design automated tests that can thoroughly check all aspects in just one day. The SDETs take the lead here; they're responsible not only for writing test scripts but also for managing them throughout their execution phase - which is crucial because any mistake can be caught before it affects customers.
SDETs are responsible for:
● Developing test automation frameworks and using them to automate test scenarios
● Teaming up with developers and product owners to review product code, plan and design software, and formulate test scenarios
● Setting up the infrastructure for running tests in parallel, CI/CD or with the appropriate test data
● Understanding and implementing design patterns where appropriate
● Creating tools to assist exploratory and manual testing
● Setting up dashboards for real-time test result reporting
● Performing high-class debugging
● Teaching others excellent quality and testing practices

Essential Skills SDETs Must Have

To be an SDET, a person must have a background in programming and computer science, usually at least a bachelor's degree in engineering or related fields. A software development engineer in test must also gain experience working in development and quality assurance or testing. Moreover, SDETs must possess the following technical and non-technical skills:
Technical Skills
● In-depth knowledge of different programming languages, including .NET and Java
● Familiar with different test methods and corresponding tools like Selenium, TestNG, and MS Test
● Experience of working DevOps and AGILE process management methodology
● Thorough understanding of object-oriented design
● Ability to find thresholds and bottlenecks in existing code using automation tools
● Exposure to Behavior Driven Development
Non-Technical Skills
● Passion for software testing, designing, and development
● Excellent written and verbal communication skills to ensure that all testing materials, such as test strategies, test cases, and bug reports, are clear and coherent.
● Organization and time management skills
● Great attitude, such as upgrading tech skills to match with changing technologies
Typically, SDETs are expected to be proficient with using test automation tools and creating automated tests and testing frameworks. They must also have the domain knowledge to create acceptance tests.

SDET Role Vs. QA or Testing Role

Software testers have been focusing on manual testing. They don’t need strong programming skills because they aren’t exposed to the code, creating a distinction between the role of an SDET and a QA/software engineer. Their strong points include out-of-the-box thinking, intuition, test system set-up, test planning, and product domain knowledge. Generally, a software tester doesn’t know the complete software development process. On the contrary, SDETs live both in the software development and testing worlds. They know the internal design as well as the implementation of the software. Test automation is more crucial to an SDET role. Today, almost all job openings are SDET roles; manual testers have been hugely deprecated. Yet, some companies may still need manual testing since humans can identify issues much more easily than an AI agent.

In Essence

The software testing world has changed dramatically over the last few years. The introduction of object-oriented programming techniques and new languages like Javascript has made it easier than ever for programmers to write programs that interact with users. SDETs are the new breed of software testers. They dive into code and ensure it aligns with end users' expectations, which is more than what functional or automation testers do. While they will always be necessary for certain aspects like manually interacting with an application's features to check if everything works (or not), there have been recent innovations in software engineering where these professionals might take on additional roles. These may include being customer advocates who influence product design by understanding a company partners' needs better than anyone else could ever hope. SDETs may also act internally across different departments/divisions within a business so everyone can share information about potential problems before they occur.