Should an automation tester have programming skills?

Should an automation tester have programming skills? Banner

Today many projects automate routine test cases, so they can run alone or in parallel with manual testing. Automating testing helps reduce time and effort for regression and other routine testing operations. Manual testing still has the benefits of a creative approach, but the IT industry steadily moves towards the automated testing or semi-automated testing. Unfortunately, not every manual QA engineer can work with automated tests without basic programming skills. 

Having a programming background will simplify the move to automation for a QA engineer. The programming skills can help testers to communicate better with developers and to participate in unit testing for inner functionality. As automation tests are closely connected with code, the knowledge of the programming language that the team works with is one of the critical requirements for a tester. If the product is written in Ruby, then the tester needs to have Ruby experience on his/her resume. 

Often other required skills, except for definite programming language (Java, C/C++, Ruby, Python, Perl), include  knowing SQL and relational databases, experience with HTTP/HTTPS, HTML, CSS, JS, XML and testing APIs. Knowing one of the frameworks (i.e., Cucumber for Ruby) would definitely be an advantage. 

Without programming skills, a tester can only use some simple keyword-driven frameworks that convert different scenarios into code automatically, but this doesn’t work for every project and, as a rule, requires interaction with developers. A tester, who wants to grow professionally and have a strong resume, should learn programming and get experience in automation testing. 

To become an automation QA engineer, one can start with learning any automation technology. The most popular now are:
•    Selenium
•    JMeter
•    LoadRunner
•    QTP
•    xUnit 

Each team, of course, uses different technologies and if a QA engineer has strong programming skills, he/she can learn different technologies quickly to make sure that he/she integrates smoothly into the team.  

To start learning programming for automation testing, please find the simplest test scenario on the project that you need to repeat a thousand times. Then create a simple automation script to run it and check the result of the test. This will motivate you to create more and more scripts and avoid manual procedures whenever possible.

November 08, 2016