I test a web application for my clients. I only do the black-box functional testing. I don't do any automation as there are other testers hired for that. I just log defects in a tool manually. Also I use the database server for validations that only uses DML statements.

I wanted to ask: If I only do black box testing for the rest of my career, will it affect my ability to grow in my field?

Will I never earn more than the automation guys? There is no scope of performance, security or load testing in my responsibilities.

8 Answers 8


You can prove your skills as programmer/developer without writing automated tests. Learn tools used for other testing-related tasks: load testing, etc. Become expert system administrator. Tools like Jenkins. Logstash to analyze logs (to be more productive as manual tester).

Prove your skills by writing scripts needed to manage the test data, like anonymization of data when copied from PROD to QA.

When you are competent programmer, test automation is just using yet another library.

Python would be especially good language to learn as system administrator, and also for test automation. And there are many good online courses, including certified ones. Then, try test automation in your own free time.

When you have the skills, you can either ask for a transfer to test automation, or find a job which is better match for your career interests in another company.

You can talk to your manager that you would like to learn new skills. Of course for this to work, you need to be in a good standing with your manager using your current skillset. Companies have good reason to allow current employees to grow skills (to make them happy and not leave), but it is your own responsibility to manage your own career. Being aware of what you want is a good first step.

If you are pigeon-holed in manual testing with no way to enhance your career according to your interests, you can look for another position of a manual tester where automation is not banned. This will be something to negotiate in new job offer.


I think there is no general rule to answer this question. It depends on whether You can add value to your business:

If You are exceptionally good at e.g. exploratory testing and not just at executing test cases from some test plans than: Yes, You can earn more than someone automating test cases with an existing framework.

In my opinion a tester lives from his reputation. Reputation can be gained by:

  • Writing excellent bug reports which help developers to fix issues more easily
  • Having strong communication skills to help "distribute" the idea of quality in your company
  • Identifying areas in the product where it lacks quality and tell management about it and how to solve the problem
  • Showing initiative and work over hours when appropriate
  • Helping test automation to concentrate on the quick wins

You can also strive for being a team lead in sw test...

Nevertheless it is wothwhile to learn the basic concepts of test automation


I feel like only you can answer this question. You control what you learn, whether it's strong manual testing concepts and skills, Python or another language, automation testing or deciding to pursue a management path. You also control your passion for what you do every day; you control what you bring to the table with your employer. So, to me it looks something like this:

You control: what you learn + your passion + your value to your employer = your QA career.

I've been testing software for 14 years and just recently began automation testing; I fumble every day and seek advice from the automation support team (read = I'm learning). I don't know a development language yet but after I get my mobile testing certification I will focus on learning Python. I have a CTFL certification; I have spent time reading industry material (blogs, books) on mobile testing because that is a hot platform for our product. In other words, I have very little automation and no programming skills yet highly respected by my peers and an industry competitive salary. I am proof it can be done. However, only you can decide if only performing manual testing will affect your QA career.

At the very least, in your shoes, I would ask what language the application you are testing is coded in, and take a beginner course or 2 in that language. I would also ask the developer that you respect the most on your team how would s/he like for you to debug errors. You may have already done these things. The skills you gain by debugging and basic coding will carry you a long way in terms of understanding product behavior.


I have seen many manual testers raising this question, I would like to say Manual Testing will never get evaporated. Because automation testing is just addition to testing.

You have lot to achieve in manual testing, there are lot of areas in manual testing (Integration testing, Database testing, installation testing, configuration testing, mobile testing, etc. etc.) which will grow your chances as good career.

I would like to work on following points will create good career path for you in your testing career.

  1. Manual Testing is vast area, try to explore as much as you can and get specialized in some areas.

  2. Explore and get specialised in manual testing tools, like bug tracking tools, test management tools etc.

  3. Manual testing gives you good management and communication skills, you should focus on this skills which gives you good chances of being a Test Manager, Test Lead.

  4. Go for certifications.

Though Automation Testing has introduced new dimensions for testing, but manual testing will never fade away, each automation tools has it own limitations. Automation testing is time consuming(mainly good for long term projects), even if you are still worried you should give a try for automation testing tools.


3 good choice:

  1. test automation, learn testing framework, programming etc....

  2. become a test engineer professional at testing process, release, bug analyze etc..

  3. become a DOMAIN expert in a special area. like semiconductor testing, mobile testing etc..

depends on your situation, can choose one .

My whole career is related to software testing >10 years.

in all different area, manual testing, test automation , developing testing tool software for hardware, developing and manage commercial software testing tool for testing engineer

  • BTW: i always look at how my manager or leader do things, and one day , when you found you can also do it, or even do better, you will grow a lot
    – Ben Xu
    Mar 1, 2016 at 9:43

You can grow in your career not only by extending testing methods. Possible ways according to testing disciplines are:

From simple Manual tester you can:

  • become a Test Analyst - person who is creating new test cases and invent new ways how to test certain cases.
  • become a Test Team Leader - person who's seniority is good enough to lead other people. Usually it means you should know at least some methodology or to have at least some level of knowledge or certification in testing field.
  • become Automation Tester (automaton) - person who can write scripts, which du the testing job which is too huge, repeats too often or too complex to be done manually.
  • become a QA/Test Manager - person who manages testing teams, testers, automatons, test analyst, etc. This is more about people management than about testing, but you should understand all roles.

But if you want to stay just a manual tester, there are other ways where to grow:

  • business domain (banking, telco, etc.)
  • technology domain (specific testing tools)
  • certifications (ISTQB, etc.)
  • methodologies (testing methodologies as TMap NEXT, including development and analysis fields as RUP, UML, BPML, etc.)
  • quality measures and practices (for example 6sigma, ITIL, balanced scorecard, etc.)
  • ... and maybe someone adds his favorite as a comment

Choice is up to you and up to needs of your stakeholders.


There's not a generic answer to that question; a lot of it is going to be dependent on the company, and your career goals. If you're doing the same manual tests over and over again, and nothing else, then yes, I'd say that would be career limiting, because you really aren't increasing the value you provide to your employeer/customer. However, if you're increasing the scope of the testing you do (including more components, for example, or testing more complicated scenarios, or learning how to find more subtle bugs), or you're learning more about what you're testing (becoming able to debug problems, or write documentation, or provide usability feedback, or building tools to allow you to do better testing, for example), then you're increasing your value to your employeer.

When you ask about if you'll ever make more money than the automated testers, I'd look at the tradeoffs. Most likely, with automated testing, they'll be finding more bugs than you will, because they can cover more of the program's surface. However, you should be able to find more complicated bugs, and bugs in areas that don't lend themselves to automation. You also should be able to provide better bug reports than an automated tool can. You should also be able to test things that are new or prototypes, where the automated test suites haven't been written yet.

Also, there seems to be some confusion between manual testing and black box testing; the two aren't related. You can automate black box testing, and you can write automated test cases when doing white box testing.


Another angle I don't see in previous answers is that it depends on where you want to work as well. All the career paths above are great if you have an opportunity to work in them. In my company, there are test engineers and quality analysts. The original basis for splitting them off a year ago was that engineers would be more coding and analysts would be more manual. Though even the quality analysts are fully expected to automate if they want to further their career here, they just aren't expected to automate as much as the engineers.

I have idly looked around at job openings and it seems like the trend in this city is that automation means having an easier time to find work. Perhaps your area has a better career outlook for manual testers, but only your own research could find that.

Also, one way I've seen the analysts bulk up their skillsets is by becoming subject matter experts in certain niches. Like you mentioned database server validation checking... I would be horrible at that, and I'm one of my companies automators. Backend validation is foreign to me, as is hardware testing, and I know analysts that are excelling in those spaces. No one will complain about a lack of automation when you can prove you are an asset in other areas of QA.

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