I have a degree in an unrelated science from a great school. I didn't have enough interest to go on for my PHD, and I really enjoyed the CS electives I took, so I went into QA. I've been doing this for over a year, and my job is pretty much just writing up test cases and test plans for a team of QA. Sometimes i'll assist in the actual QA work, but the majority of my time is spent writing up the cases and handling issues that come up with things taking too long and defects being found.

This has become very time consuming and not very rewarding. The pay is low and i'm not learning much more at this point. I'd really like to get into automation, but i'm not sure how. I've spoken with the head of the automation team at my company, and they are currently not hiring anyone, so i'll need to look outside of my current company. I'm familiar with the basics of Python and HTML(finished code academy for both), and have gone through the tutorials on Selenium's site. The next thing I want to learn the basics of is SQL. I've been writing test plans for the last year, so i'm familiar with blackbox testing.

I'm having a very hard time finding job postings (what title should I even be searching for?), and the ones I can find don't have very good requirements. What do I need to know before I can apply for an entry level position? I'm not positive if i'm even focusing on the right stuff, or if my focus should be somewhere else. If anyone here has experience with this stuff, I would really love to hear some advice and suggestions.

2 Answers 2


I am an SDET by trade. 7 years ago, I was in the very same position that you are now. I have always loved manual testing but I started becoming disillusioned with how little your job as a tester changes from project to project.

What I did was start learning the ins and outs of automation in my free time. I started identifying things in my day-to-day work that would be good candidates for an automated test and started doing low-level tests against those pages. I used C# and WatiN.

As to your question about where you should be looking and what you should be looking for, I have used StackOverflow Careers and Craigslist to a great deal of success. The terms you should be searching for are "SDET", "Automation Engineer" and/or "Software Development Engineer in Test".

Best of luck!

  • Thanks for the reply! If you had to hire an entry level person at your company, what kind of skills would you expect? I've heard different things from different people, ranging from "you need to know programming really well", to "you need a basic understanding of programming, and a good understanding of QA". I would love to eventually get to the first one, but the second one is a much more realistic starting point. I'm not too if these two different sets of requirements have two different titles though.
    – user7639
    Apr 30, 2014 at 19:28
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    You are most welcome! I don't agree with the first reply at all. If you know programming "really well", you would be a developer, not an SDET :) But yes, the second response is more likely your starting point. To answer your question, when we are hiring SDET's (I work at Costco), we prefer they have more of a manual testing background as opposed to a development background. Developers have a very narrow focus on most projects whereas, a tester has a much wider view, and that lends itself very well to automation.
    – Brandon
    Apr 30, 2014 at 19:35
  • I know it's tough to gauge over just my initial post, but do you think I have enough programming knowledge that I could start applying places now, assuming my manual testing skills are solid?
    – user7639
    Apr 30, 2014 at 19:50
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    I think that is possible, yes. I think you should do what I did though and get hired on as a functional tester somewhere (or at your current job) and start identifying test cases that could be candidates for automation, and start automating them.
    – Brandon
    Apr 30, 2014 at 19:59
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    I was in a similar position nearly 10 years ago and am now a senior SDET who has helped build automation frameworks and strategies for a few different large companies. As someone who has hired a few teams of SDET's from scratch, what I look for is someone who is a good logical and critical thinker, can show excellent troubleshooting and root cause analysis skills, and has some programming experience. I'm happy to mentor a more junior developer who obviously is very solid with the rest. My take on it is very different than some though, it depends on the hiring manager.
    – Sam Woods
    May 1, 2014 at 16:20

If you want to learn, you are in luck because all important tools are free! You can get free account at SauceLabs and write a selenium/webdriver test for any public web application. Python has good Selenium bindings. You can use your hobby project as part of your portfolio. If you do it right, with pageobject and using best practices, you should have easier time to find a position, because hiring manager can see you have the drive to learn and improve yourself, and you have skills in both manual and automated testing.

Build up your LinkedIn profile, too, and work on your resume. LinkedIn is easiest way to let recruiters know you are on the market for interesting position.

Good luck!

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