The other day I heard a teammate say that all manual quality engineers dream of becoming automation engineers… in my mind, it was “not me” and I honestly don’t think it should be the dream of all manual quality engineers.
I consider myself a hybrid in the world of software quality, or in other words a full-stack, I can do manual and automated tasks without any problem, however (and as always) there is always something that you like or master more, in my case is the manual part and not because I love to click a button until the service responds to me, but because (in my very particular opinion) is the part that most force me to think outside the box.
In the automated part most of the time you will get extra help, from a google search (blessed Stack Overflow) to an extension in your code editor or an online course, my point is that there is always a way to learn or improve the way you are coding your task, of course, I am referring only to the automated tests that QA performs, those of integrations and UI (better known as E2E), we could talk about the unit and integration tests in another post.
Contrary to the manual part, you need to become a business expert for your scenarios to give value to the tests and there is no search engine, or at least I don’t know of its existence, where it tells you which cases or scenarios are the best for your new functionalities; you can learn different manual testing techniques (such as those dictated by ISTQB), read books, take courses, etc. but if you don’t understand what is the value of the feature, what need is covered or what risks it represents to release it, your superficial validations will only make the UI looks good and “works” that at the end are repetitive and to some extent basic compared to what someone who understands the requirement can validate.
It is enough to open linkedin and search for related positions to see the high demand that a quality engineer profile usually has. (The search will be focused on Mexico only)
As you can see, manual testers are still the most in demand, but they are ahead of quality engineers by a very small margin. I assure you that in a few months the demand will be equal to or higher than it is today.
And speaking a little more about numbers, the salaries between a manual profile and an automation have a difference of around ten thousand Mexican pesos, however a complete profile is almost twice as much as a specialized one. (Benchmarks taken from Glassdoor)
When it comes to salary offers, it is important to understand that there are differences in pay among the seniorities that each company has. This is due to a number of factors, such as the level of experience required, the level of education or training required, and the specific skills and knowledge needed to perform the position. In my experience, junior or semi-senior positions are in the range I have shown below, so more senior profiles tend to have a higher salary.
It is essential to note that manual testing is not becoming obsolete in the software development industry. Manual testing is still necessary to ensure that software applications meet user requirements and the probability of release the application with defects, is reduced. Automation testing is not a replacement for manual testing but a complementary approach that help improve efficiency and productivity.
Let it be clear that with this I do not mean that all manual quality engineers should stay at that point and ignore everything that is automation, on the contrary, learning to code (note here: not to automate) always opens new skills in software quality, how are you going to explain to the developer what the defect is, only with an “I click and it breaks”? think how expensive it is to report bugs with that parameter or how are you going to get rid of that annoying task you have to do every week (e.g. report generation) by getting up earlier when you have to? I prefer to spend my time on other things. Or if in 5 years you decide that quality is not what you love, why not start to coding? sometimes quality engineers complain a lot about developers but is not as easy as it seems.
The question “Do all Manual Quality Engineers dream of becoming Automation Engineers?” depends on the career goal each QE has in mind for himself. For example, I do not dream of becoming one, however and taking into account the changing needs of the software quality industry I am aware of the opportunities (both economic and professional) that gives me to have a profile that dominates both the manual and automated part, despite this I do not see myself programming every day of my life, however I prefer to dedicate X amount of time so that in the future the “free” time I have I can devote to other things (like this blog).
Don’t rush if you don’t feel influenced by your current environment (linkedIn, co-workers, etc). My advice would be: Dedicate yourself to what you like without neglecting the technical part, since you have to keep in mind that someone who masters or knows more about what their role should do is much more valuable to teams and companies.
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