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Since many companies are adapting to agile practices, TDD and all it's surroundings - will testing (test automator, not a manual tester) disappear?

I am very worried about my future.

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  • Your concern is that as things get more agile there will be less automation?
    – corsiKa
    Jan 21, 2016 at 17:45
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    Be more specific about the type of test automation. Some jobs will disappear sooner than others. It boils down to the skill level.
    – user246
    Jan 21, 2016 at 18:47

4 Answers 4

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Agile practises are all about automated testing, therefor on the long run I think manual testers should be worried for their jobs. Currently I am talking with recruiters and they ask me why are there not more people with your skill set, that of an automated tester. Since there is a lot of demand for this in the Netherlands at the moment.

If you take a look at the testing pyramid at-least 10% of the automated testing work is for traditional automation testers. Bigger Agile teams 6-9 people should have one test automation expert in their mids, although it might be necessary to help with development beginning of the iteration. Testers should pick up skills to really fit in a cross-functional team, certainly for the smaller teams.

Bigger companies the ones with +10 teams often have dedicated teams for setting up continuous delivery and or automated test tooling. If you look at scaling Agile at Spotify you see they have Chapters. I imagine they have chapters for all kinds of different automated testing like UI, Build Pipelines and the such.

I think test automation will only grow with more businesses going the Agile route. Also not all developers are keen on doing this integration- and ui-testing, so there will be enough work for the people who do like this kind of stuff.

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Very unlikely your job will go away. You can relax.

There might be two different threats to QA test engineer job:

  • (A) developers writing all tests, including E2E.
  • (B) QA test are kept separate but are outsourced to country with cheaper workforce (even if core development is done in more expensive country with presumably more skilled workforce).
  • (C) Continuous growth of complexity (negates forces above)

(A) Developers write unit tests. System/integration/E2E tests are better written by someone else. Second set of eyes reading the same requirements may see discrepancies, find unsaid assumption (or tests will find them).

Also, system/E2E tests could be much more productively written in a flexible scripting language like Python, even in cases if the system itself has to be written for whatever reasons in more strict and less productive language like Java or C++ (i.e. for speed). In this case, requiring developers to write test E2E tests in different language will be obvious hit to productivity. But even if both development and QA engineers use same language (say core app is developed in Python), writing tests requires slightly different skills - if core developers do not need to be experts in Selenium, locators, tricks to simulate interaction with the page, etc, they can be more productive in developing core app.

It is all about specialization. Of course if you are working in a startup with 3 developers, such specialization is not possible :-) or even advisable.

(B) It is possible that big part of such QA jobs will be outsourced to India and other countries with less expensive workforce. You can see huge amount of questions coming from users with South East Asia names. Then again, looking at the types of questions asked, and uneven quality, jobs of QA test engineers in developed countries should be reasonably safe - if they will use the advantage they have: face-to-face communication with other participants of the development process, and keep they skills sharp.

So QA automation as profession will not die - just jobs might be located elsewhere, as manufacturing was. Or more recent relevant example, medical work in analyzing X-rays (was outsourced to India, images being transferred via Internet).

Inevitable result of globalization is that work is performed where it is most profitable for the corporations. So yes, long-term trend would be to lower the salaries of workers in expensive countries, and rise in salaries in less expensive countries.

(C) If you read Humble Programmer, 1972 Turing lecture award for Edsger W. Dijkstra's you see that complexity we (as programmers) handle increases continuously. So as far as you are keeping current in technologies, you will have (increasingly complicated) job. The trend (to add complexity to tasks we handle as performance and capabilities of computers increases) was visible in 1972 and is going strong, so it is not going to go away anytime soon.

Of course, long-term, we are all dead.

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I worked for an agile company, as you can see I use the past tense, I no longer have a job and it was the all the fault of the scrum masters they hired.

I now work for the manual testing factory, I don't have to think at all and I just carry out the commands on the test script. I like it here.

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    Scrum masters have no authority over determining whether automation is acceptable or not.
    – Robben
    Jan 21, 2016 at 18:05
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    Can you elaborate on why it was the Scrum Masters fault? How big was the team? Jan 21, 2016 at 19:28
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I think that testers will be needed for the near future, but over time, automated testing will be built into program development tools.

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  • So built-in tools will replace human brain? Sounds like testing isn't creative work.
    – dzieciou
    Jan 21, 2016 at 21:00
  • Someone still has to decide what the tests need to be: it's possible to have thousands of passing automated tests and an application that doesn't work.
    – Kate Paulk
    Jan 22, 2016 at 12:10
  • I use testing tools that come with Visual Studio on a daily basis, pretty happy that I am working in the same development environment as our developers. You think developers will take over all the testing because of this? Jan 22, 2016 at 12:13

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