“Technical tester”, “Automation Expert” and “Test Engineer” are sought after skills. Everyone wants them, everyone needs them. We go from heavy manual tests in waterfall projects to Agile development with rapid and automated testing. In the agile world the test cycles becomes more frequent and the regression tests really heavy since they need to be run more often. This requires a lot of manual testers or automation. The automation itself makes the tests become more technical. The number of testing tools is increasing, but they also increase in complexity. We can record all types of protocol language, we can, with a little fix in the script code, manipulate our test case to be something completely different. We have well thought structures for automatic verification where modules are reused. We feed the test tool with generic test data, etc.. This requires an entirely different kind of knowledge and experience than the tester who grew up with manual click-step-by-step tests.
The knowledge about testing is more spread and people understand that it is important and want to go for it. This is of course great and after striving for this for years, it feels good when things are finally happening. But “people” are often managers, project management, or similar, that primarily have been, and are, focused on development. This makes it easily to focus on building something smart, efficient and – that’s right, automated. But there are very few good testers to come by.
Having a tester’s way of thinking AND technical skills AND be able to automate … well, then the question might be if we are looking for developers more than testers. If you are lucky and find a developer who also has experience in testing, it is quite likely that you have found a developer who does not want to test but who was forced to the job. The same goes for the opposite. There are a lot of manual/non-technical testers who have been forced to work with more technical tests, because that was what the team had to do. The tester is not interested and feels uncomfortable when he or she lacks experience and knowledge. Where can I find the modern tester who can hold both types of knowledge and engagement? I know some but they are few!
It’s not just about fully automated tests. I have had the privilege to work in teams who had a type of test-developer. That person made a lot of scripting, generating test data, developing small tools to support testing or test case management and scripts to semi-automate testing.
Is it courses and training that is missing? Is it still the test profession’s reputation as a low status job, which prevents developers from wanting to be a tester? Is it our old-fashioned way of thinking of how the test should be conducted, that makes it difficult to venture into the future on a broad front? Or is it that technical testing and automation is the wrong way to go?
I don’t know … I just know that it’s very hard to get really skilled testers who also possesses deep technical knowledge and experience in test automation.