I have recently graduated with a Software Engineering degree. I have found a job as a Test Automation Developer writing frameworks in ruby/cucumber to test other applications, that have been developed. I will be doing a 6 month contract, but I do not want to be a test engineer for the rest of my career. I would like to move into actual development and start my career being SDE instead of SDET. I would like to know anyone's input on this and how well I would be able to transition to SDE.

I'm only doing the automation (SDET) job for a contract of 6 months. In that time I hope to learn and excel my programming skills. What I'm saying is, I don't want employers to stick me in the test developer category and not give me a shot at development. I feel, that the Tester role is looked down upon slightly. Does anyone have any experience with this? Transitioning? What can I do to keep my programming skills sharp during that 6 month period? What is the growth opportunity within the Test engineer role. What is the SDET vs SDE salary gap, or is there one?

Just a little overwhelmed here, any advice would be much appreciated.

  • 1
    As for the Salary Gap, I make more as an SDET than my SDEs make, but don't tell them please..... As for the respect, I get plenty of respect around my office. As for sharpening your skill set, I can develop with any language and framework so when I see something new I would like to learn, I use it. I think SDET gives you more control over what you use and learn which would be extremely beneficial to your career.
    – Paul Muir
    Dec 30, 2014 at 16:20
  • Same here for the money comment from PaulDonny! Just found that out. thought I was well compensated. now I know. Oct 28, 2015 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


We are travelling on the same boat my friend !!! :) As you are still in very early stage it is easy for you to make a transition. If you are passionate and willing to work hard this is my piece of advice for you which I am telling through my own experience :)

I am a guy who is passionate about Java Web Developement and in my first job I was placed into QA role, I had no choice but to accept the role and I need to work for around 1 more year.

Do not worry about your future, if you want to be a developer then be a developer and respect your job as an SDET.Try to master what you are doing at your job and after you come back to home try to practice your programming skills through programming competitions sites like Top Coder,CodeChef.com. These sites will help you develop your coding skills.

You can also help Dev-Team in your office by writing some utility tools to automate their work, in this way you can show your passion to be a developer so that people can recognise your talent and can move you to the Dev-Role.

Apart from that my strong suggestion is to take on side projects. Think about any idea like a webapp or a mobile app depending on which field you are into, start of by re-inventing the wheel like creating a shoppingcart application, a social networking site like facebook or any other application you use daily. Try to think how they developed that software and develop it. If you face any obstacles, divide your problem into small modules and google for them I am sure you will be able to find answers. Work for 2-3 hours daily after your office hours to keep your programming skills sharp.

One more idea I can give which I myself follow is Explore projects in github.com , this is a social network for all the developers to share their code. If you are trying to develop a shopping cart application, search in github and you can find many projects(hopefully). Try to study and understand how they wrote the code and try to implement the code in your projects. In this way you can develop experience not only by writing code but also reading the code.

Create a portfolio of your application by maintaining all your side projects in the Github repository so that you can show your manager that you are good candidate to fit into the developer role.

Once you think you have the confidence to write good, maintainable code then search for some open source projects and try to contribute to them. In this way you can find some real world experience. That's what I am aiming to do now :)

You can refer to this article here:


And coming to your another question, in my view a good automation engineer has a great opportunity in terms of salary than an average developer. So continue to give your best as an SDET and work hard to keep your programming skills sharp. After 6 months, if you feel that being and SDET is good and interesting to break things you can make that as your career!! Follow your passion!! :)

  • Great response. I will definitely take this to heart and apply it. Thank you! Dec 7, 2014 at 20:21

Improve your skills and talk to your manager. Ask for training and/or special project. Failing that, join any open-source project and show your skills there.


TL;DR: If you create code you are a software engineer!

I think maintaining or building an Test Automation Framework is software engineering where the software product is the framework and the users are testers or developers. This is similar as an API developer, that would create API's for other developers.

In my experience the framework codebases are just as complex and consists of typical design patterns as any other software product. It needs to be shipped, it needs documentation, it needs testing, it has bugs.

Now if you only write tests with the framework you might want create a development portfolio on the side, or ask to work on extending the framework.

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