How to Switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation

Recently I received a message on LinkedIn asking how to switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation,

I wanted to talk about Manual and Automation Testing. I currently do Manual testing and Client handling. I want to get into Automation. How can I go about it? What programming language and tools I need to learn?

This message got me thinking. There are lot of people who have Manual testing experience. When there is a walk-in interview you could see thousands of people with more experience than you have. So you have to differentiate yourself from others by adding extra skills to your resume. In a world where the consumer expects fast-paced delivery, and solutions must support a myriad of devices and platforms, manual testing simply doesn’t enable the delivery pace that the market expects. The rise of automated testing in response to this has been rapid. Are you attempting a switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation? This transition won’t come overnight. It takes months/years to lay the groundwork.

Congratulations! You are aware of the emerging trends.

It’s never too late to start afresh!

Congratulations! If you are reading this article, you are already one step ahead of fellow Manual testers.

I have been a part of the Software testing industry for 8 long years and my job as a software tester has always been to act as an end-user advocate. After distilling the product requirements and the user interface design into test cases, I execute them as a manual tester, using the same tools our customers will use: a keyboard, a mouse, or fingers on a touchscreen. Manual testing, I found, is still the best method when testing brand-new functionality. But this quickly becomes tedious for the tester when you’re regression testing; checking to see if code changes didn’t break the old, working functionality. With the advent of Agile, DevOps and Continuous Integration concepts – new requirements were added to Software testing positions. For the first time, software testers were required to know how to code. The relationship between development and QA shouldn’t be the same as the relationship between an artist and an art critic. It should be more like the relationship between a writer and a copy editor, both applying their specialized skill sets to make a quality product.

To be able to make the most of these emerging opportunities, Testers will need to up-skill and embrace new ways of working. To use the analogy of a factory production line, the move from manual to automated testing is like the move from an assembler to the skilled engineer who builds the assembly machines.

Attitude | Move out of your Comfort zone

The biggest challenge is to start, once the wheel starts rolling it is not hard to keep the momentum.

Many testers believe (or are just waiting) that once they have the job, they will learn Test automation skills and programming quickly. Needless to say that this rarely happens. Putting the cart before the horse does not get the cart moving. Companies today prefer to hire Automation testers who are already trained and, if possible, have prior project experience. If you want to switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation, and you don’t know much about programming: Change your attitude!

Manual testing is not what it was five years ago. The number of pure manual testing jobs is low and when such a job is available, the competition is fierce. It is common these days to meet manual testers that have a difficult time finding a new job. Considering the market situation, many manual testers are now becoming more interested in Test automation. Some want to just expand their skills by including programming and a Test automation framework in their testing toolbox. Others are contemplating switching the direction completely and focusing on automation only.

Of course, this isn’t an easy thing to do overnight. Change your attitude first. It is important to make changes in your life. Help yourself. Improve your skills and become relevant. It’s like honing your skills to stay relevant in the job market. Or a tester learning to write useful automation scripts. Asking what help can automation provide for Software quality? People learn quickly and easily when they have a strong reason to learn something.

Commitment to learn Coding

Many testers resist learning Automation. Having spent years becoming well versed in software testing, why to be a novice again? Couldn’t I just keep on finding jobs that tested software in the same old way I already knew? But soon they find that it is becoming harder and harder to find positions for which they are qualified. The job requirements have evolved with the needs of the industry.

To stay relevant in the Software testing industry, it is imperative to make a major time commitment to train yourself in new tools and technology. Making a switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation requires serious time and effort.

Explore the online QA world

To start learning Automation testing, firstly you can do some online research i.e. study related to automation testing. What is Test automation, what are the various test automation tools, what different functionalities can be automated, what are the current test automation trends, etc.? For this, refer to some of the widely followed blogs related to Automated Software testing.

Research the test automation skills that are in demand in the current job market. Is web test automation in demand or mobile test automation? Is QTP experience required by most companies, Selenium or Appium? Do employers prefer Java, C#, or Ruby as a programming language? The answers to these questions will help you to narrow down the new skills that you need to learn or refine.

Practice | Practice | Practice

Writers don’t learn how to write by just reading. They learn by writing papers, essays, and articles, and they practice writing daily. Coders learn to code by going beyond the classroom, experimenting on their own with writing programs and apps. Automated testers do the same with random sites on the web: How would I test this web page, and what tests would I write?

Merely watching and listening to the lectures won’t help practically. Play with the programming language, i.e. figure out the code. In order to learn to code, you can’t passively listen to someone or read an article. You need to type out the code, experiment with it, and refactor it; only then can you truly understand it.

Start spending at least an hour a day coding, either in Python, Java, or Selenium with Java. Learn as much as you can about programming, and make sure to move ahead from basic, intermediate to advanced automation test frameworks. Do not stop after mastering the basic concepts, but continue with more advanced topics like object oriented programming, code refactoring, design patterns, and building custom frameworks. The important part is to keep working at it and improving.

Start Automated Testing

Instead of learning something as a side project, try to automate your own application that you are manually testing now. Identify the best possible candidates, i.e. the test cases that you execute in regression phase repeatedly for each cycle.

  • If your application is web based, then Selenium is the best choice for that, as it supports functional automated testing across different browsers.
  • Appium is an open source test automation tool that supports native apps automated testing in major mobile platforms like iOS and Android.
  • If you are interested in learning API Test automation, then SoapUI is the best candidate. This is also open source.
  • Interested in learning Performance Testing? Start with learning JMeter, an open source tool.

Network | Spread the Word

Technology is always changing, and it’s very easy to forget if you have been at the same job for a while. Meetups aren’t just a good way to keep abreast of what’s happening with the software industry, it’s also a good way to meet people who are also trying to keep up with industry trends.

Social Networking skills are pretty much required for any professional in any industry. Since social networks provide instant access to discussions, resources and content, honing skills in this area definitely will help you to engage with counterparts, learn new things and keep updated with the latest information.

Connect with local IT recruiters. Working with an IT recruiter is a fast way to get a new job, due to the wide range of companies that the recruiter has access to. Also, recruiters are directly interested in placing the tester, since they gets a commission for each hired tester. If you don’t want to work with a recruiter, find a mentor or experienced tester who would be willing to take you under their wing and vouch for you when you are ready to start applying.

Who knows, maybe your new job interview will be there while you are learning. For some companies the fact that you know programming and automation basics, and are committed to learning more, are sufficient for getting hired.

Become Visible, & interesting!

The easiest way – create a blog about learning Test automation and programming. The blog will be your proof, and will showcase your improving automation skills. It is also an asset that sets you apart from other manual testers taking the same route. Another trick is to update your LinkedIn profile with your new programming and automation skills. Write frequently on the blog about new things that you learn and publish the article links on LinkedIn. Your articles will be visible to all your LinkedIn contacts, which include IT recruiters and hiring managers.

Recognize opportunities!

If given an opportunity to learn or practice Automation, never step back. Even if you are afraid of failure don’t step back. Either you will be successful or you will find the reason to start with complete dedication. If you are trying to switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation, don’t give up! It is going to take a lot of time and effort, but it will be well worth it, giving you a fresh new look at the field you enjoy.

Don’t leave Manual Testing

Knowledge of Software Testing concepts is a MUST for both Manual and Automation testing. Companies are looking for Automation Testers, because it saves time, money and resources. But that does not mean that Manual testing is dying. First of all without knowing manual testing, one cannot say she/he is an Automation Test engineer, because Manual is at the heart of Software Testing. The current market demand as well as opportunities are for people who have knowledge on both Manual and Automation Testing. Just that knowledge, experience and expertise of automation will increase your chances to get jobs at SMEs and MNCs as well.

Switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation

Once upon a time, separation between development and testing was clear and both disciplines required quite distinct skill sets. But with the rise of Test automation, this is no longer the case. Organizations are now looking for Software testers who know programming to develop and manage the automated testing platforms. If you are working as a Manual Tester, the weight of evidence suggests that the future of the discipline lies in Automation. With IT companies looking for cost effective benefits of faster, more accurate, continuous testing, those in the testing profession seem to have a choice between a narrowing of opportunities, or up-skilling and becoming a key figure in the Quality culture.

YES, you can definitely switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation.

If you want to advance your career and switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation, do not wait to be discovered. By changing your attitude, improving your skills and experience, reaching out and tapping your network, and working to differentiate yourself, a career in Test automation is easily within your grasp.

  • Be technology aware about the emerging trends
  • Attitude | Move out of your comfort zone
  • Commitment to learn Coding – Understand that it is not a rocket science, but it is achievable only when you are confident enough to code automation scripts.
  • Explore as many online resources as possible – articles, blogs, videos, tutorials, classrooms, etc.
  • Practice | Practice | Practice — Never forget to experiment and to practically implement your learning.
  • Start writing automation scripts
  • Grow your professional network & stay in touch
  • Spread the Word about yourself
  • Spot the Opportunity
  • Keep implementing things, Google wherever you are stuck and keep learning.
  • Remember, experience is the key in Test Automation.

Be very patient when making a switch from Manual Testing to Test Automation. Once comfortable with Automation testing, you can then move to web development, DevOps automation and what not. But in the end – you need to work hard. If you don’t get an opportunity, create one yourself.

Congratulations!!! You now know the magical realm of Automation Testing.



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