I recently attended a webinar by Louise Gibbs (@Louise_J_Gibbs) where she shared some tips on how you can transition from a manual tester to a test automation developer (link to her presentation can be found here if you are interested). After the presentation, there were some really interesting questions from the attendees, mainly from the perspective that some testers are finding it hard to find a job nowadays as everyone expects you to have test automation experience. I feel that if you don't know how to automate a test, then you are not considered for most testing jobs. I think that this is also highlighted by some companies trying to cost down and cutting down the number of testers they have and replacing them instead with Software Development Engineers in Test (or SDETs), who is someone with a strong developer skills but can also develop a testing framework, write tests, able to setup pipelines and use tools such as Jenkins, Terraform, AWS, Docker, etc.
Huib Schoots (@huibschoots) wrote a really interesting article (I highly recommend that you read it) where he shared his thoughts that there is this huge drive on test automation and that we are obsessed with the idea of automating everything. He shared that even institutes like ISTQB is gearing towards software testing to become fully automated in the future. Funny because I actually have the tweet posted below on my thoughts on the whole automate everything movement! 😅
While test automation is really important, I feel that there is this common misconception that testing is all about test automation nowadays. For example, if you know how to write automated UI tests, then some will think that you are a testing expert already. Testing is more than writing automated tests. It's also about risk assessment, engaging with other members of the team so you can offer suggestions on how to improve work processes, championing quality throughout the development lifecycle and doing other activities such as exploratory or accessibility testing. You can use all the different test automation tools available but at the end, if you are just simply automating tests as part of your testing strategy, then you are not fully testing.
There is definitely a big push for us to continuously adapt and while it's true that there is more room for people with test automation experience, I personally believe that companies should not just look for someone who can write tests. Anyone can write the tests if they learn a framework but it takes a different mindset to be skilled at testing. The important bugs are the ones caught by doing a thorough exploratory testing of the application because these are the unknown and not covered by any automated tests that you have. Humans will never be replaced by machines (unless we are in a Black Mirror episode).
Edit: Someone from LinkedIn has kindly pointed out that the other activities that I have listed above such as risk assessment, engaging with other members of the team so you can offer suggestions on how to improve work processes, championing quality throughout the development lifecycle and doing other activities such as exploratory or accessibility testing is about Quality Assurance as a whole which is 100% correct. Thank you! 🙂