12 min read

How to Become an Automation Tester: The Ultimate Guide to Start Your Career in QA

The author of this article is tech expert Pieter Murphy.

So, you want to become a QA automation tester? How do you go about getting on a suitable quality assurance career path? This brief guide looks at what you need to know when entering this industry.

According to a survey by Mordor, the automation testing market is expected to grow from $27.65 billion in 2023 to about $58.16 billion by 2028 (CAGR of 16.03%).

Automation testing is an in-demand skill at the moment, with a few paradigm shifts to consider.

To ensure smooth customer experiences, automation testing demand has risen, fueled by automated testing, the adoption of the DevOps model, which incorporates testing within the production environments instead of handing it off to Ops, and a shortage of skilled individuals to handle automation testing.

Let’s dive in and discover what the market offers and what to expect when you become a QA automation engineer.

Automation vs. Manual Testing

Manual testing has been the norm for a long time, so we should start with defining it and automated testing to see the difference.

Manual testing is testing a software application by manually running tests without scripts or automated tools. Manual testing lets testers dig into the software and find defects that automated tests may sometimes miss.

Manual testing is useful when human input is required, such as evaluating a user interface, usability, or user experience. However, it can be time-consuming, prone to human mistakes, and challenging to scale for complex projects.

Automation testing calls for using automation tools or frameworks to conduct expansive and comprehensive tests and improve speed, efficiency, accuracy, and coverage, especially in repetitive tasks, regression testing, and complex scenarios.

It is also a great way to cut down on the cost and effort of testing in the long run.

Skills Required to Become a QA Automation Tester

To become a good automation tester, you must acquire a skill set that includes complex/technical skills and soft skills for the non-technical portion of your work.

skills needed for a QA automation engineer

Let’s dive and learn what they are.

Hard Skills

Hard skills include the subject matter you must go through or be proficient in to become an expert in automation testing.

They include:

Programming Languages

Becoming a QA automation engineer requires proficiency in at least one programming language, including C#, Java, Ruby, Python, or JavaScript. The languages are used to write test scripts, interact with the app during tests, and automate test cases.

To become a QA tester, you must leverage programming languages across libraries, frameworks, and tools that facilitate automation testing, and mastering them is therefore crucial.

Basics of Software Development and Testing

Understanding the software development lifecycle, software testing lifecycle, and software testing methodologies (Agile, Waterfall, or DevOps) is essential.

Along with that, beef up your knowledge of software testing fundamentals, including test types, test design techniques, test levels, test execution, defect management, design techniques, and test reporting.

The skills help plan, design, implement, execute, and maintain effective and efficient tests when you become an automation testing engineer.

Basics of Test Case Design and Bug Reporting

As a tester, you must know how to design test cases covering the functional and non-functional requirements of the apps under test. You should be able to write clear, accurate, and concise bug reports detailing the defects found during testing.

This skillset helps you become a QA engineer who can assess the quality and reliability of the application under testing and provide actionable feedback to stakeholders and developers. 

Concepts in Automation Testing

To become an automation software tester, you must understand the concepts and principles of automation testing, including the process, best practices, tools, frameworks, and challenges.

You also need to be proficient at selecting the appropriate test cases for automation, designing and implementing automation test scripts, executing and debugging them, and maintaining and updating them.

Knowledge of Database and SQL

A QA automation tester must know how to use databases and SQL queries. Databases are used to store, retrieve, and manipulate data for the application being tested. SQL queries allow you to perform various operations on data, including update, insert, select, delete, join, etc.

These skills help verify the data integrity and consistency of the application being tested and perform database testing.

Knowledge of Linux Commands

To become an expert automation tester, you must know how to use Linux commands and shell scripts to perform tasks such as process management, network management, directory operations, system administration, etc.

Shell scripts are useful for automating and executing a series of Linux commands that help you work with Linux-based applications and environments.

Soft Skills

Soft skills encompass the non-technical skills you need to become a test automation expert and perform your tasks efficiently and effectively.

As we assert in our automation tester roadmap, the following core soft skills are essential:

Communication

Communication skills help you express yourself clearly and concisely, verbally and in writing, to different people. Communication abilities also involve listening actively, providing helpful feedback, and asking relevant questions.

As a tester, you must communicate with developers, project managers, business analysts, and customers to understand what is needed, report defects, and suggest improvements.

Teamwork/collaboration

To become an automated tester, you should effectively communicate with team members while working towards the same goal.

In the world of DevOps and more modern methodologies of development, this often means working alongside them and testing the software as it is developing, with constructive feedback to make it all go smoothly.

Analytical and problem-solving

A QA automation tester needs to think logically and critically, identify and analyze the issues present, and find and implement solutions.

These abilities are essential for tasks such as data analysis, root cause analysis, debugging, and decision-making to support problem-solving.

Learning and adaptability

You should be able to continuously learn new things and adapt to different environments and situations. To become a master in automation testing, you learn to work with different kinds of operating systems, environments, devices, and so on.

You also have to use various tools, including the latest technologies, trends, and tools, a requirement that individuals who can learn and adapt easily possess.

Creativity and innovation

You should be able to generate and apply new and original ideas to improve existing processes and products. The ability also enables thinking outside the box, experimentation, and exploration to challenge conventions and assumptions.

How to Learn Automation Testing

You can use various resources to learn and study how to become a test automation expert. These will teach you the technical side of automation testing and give you the appropriate background to learn new things and perform your tasks effectively and efficiently.

Educational Background

There is no definitive answer to what educational background you need to get into automation testing or start learning it. However, some qualifications give you the background of what you will interact with. They include a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software, engineering, or a related field.

This gives you some programming, software development, and testing principles knowledge.

You also need good knowledge of the programming languages we’ve mentioned, as it is needed to write, modify, and debug test scripts and leverage them to interact with tools and frameworks.

Online Courses

Online, you will find more specific courses that get into the details of automation testing. Some of the platforms you can check out include:

  • Coursera — This platform offers courses and certificates from top companies and universities. You can find courses on QA automation testing, which cover the basics of QA automation testing, the tools and frameworks used, and the skills and credentials needed. You can also find courses on related topics, including Agile and DevOps methodologies, software engineering, and programming languages.
  • Udemy — This platform offers courses on various topics, including automation testing tools like Selenium, TestCafe, Katalon, and Playwright, as well as courses on manual testing. They are delivered by experts and instructors with real-world experience in the field.
  • Katalon Academy — This is a dedicated website for learning automation testing using Katalon Studio, a powerful and comprehensive tool. They include courses on web, mobile, desktop, and API testing and advanced topics, including AI, CI/CD, and BDD.
  • Careerist — This website offers a fellowship program in QA automation testing, designed to help you master web UI testing, microservices testing, APU testing, DevOps, performance testing, Selenium, and more. You can learn from people with real-world experience and get career guidance and support.

These are just some of the online courses you can find, with more to come as the field evolves and grows.

Resources, Tutorials, Communities for Self-learning

There are many resources, tutorials, and communities you can use or join to prepare further or understand QA automation testing.

You can find articles, podcasts, blogs, and books covering aspects of QA automation testing. They can include courses offered by the makers of the toolkits used, as well as tutorials.

They include resources like:

  • Katalon Academy
  • Selenium tutorial (by Guru99)
  • Reddit (subreddits like r/QualityAssurance, r/selenium, and r/automated testing are useful to learn new things)
  • LambdaTest Community (discussions of tools, challenges, frameworks, and best practices)

These are just a few of the resources you can find online. However, as they emerge, you should always look for new tools, technologies, and best practices.

Certifications

Some of the certifications you can take to prove proficiency and enhance your skillset on your journey to become a QA automated tester include:

  • LambdaTest Certifications — LambdaTest allows testers to test websites and mobile apps across 3000+ browsers, devices, and OS combinations. It also includes certifications on topics like TestNG, Cypress, Selenium, and cross-browser testing.
  • Certified Associate in Software Testing (CAST) — The CAST certification validates your knowledge and understanding of software testing principles and practices at a foundational level. It is suitable for beginners or professionals looking to enhance their testing skills.
  • Certified Tester Advanced Level Test Automation Engineer (CT-TAE) — This certification demonstrates your ability and competence in designing, developing, and maintaining test automation solutions. It is suitable for automation testers looking to advance their test automation skills.
  • Automation Test Engineer by Simplilearn — This program teaches you how to use automation testing tools and frameworks, including Appium, TestNG, Maven, Selenium, Cucumber, etc.
  • AI (artificial intelligence) in Software Testing — This course and program introduces you to concepts and applications in AI and machine learning in software testing. It suits anyone looking to explore and learn the emerging trends and technologies.

How to Create a Portfolio

To showcase your skills and experience in automation testing, you need a portfolio chronicling what you have done so far. It’s like a resume but better because it gives a fuller picture of what you can do.

Here is how to go about it:

  • Pick a platform to host the portfolio — One of the best platforms for QA automation testers is GitHub, which allows you to create a repository for storing portfolio files. You can also use README.md to write a brief introduction about yourself and your portfolio. Other include WordPress, Medium, or your website.
  • Decide on the projects and tools to include in the portfolio — You can leverage existing projects from previous or current jobs, courses, and internships, as long as you get permission to share them. You could also create your own by testing open-source applications, APIs, or websites.
  • Document and present your projects clearly and concisely — You should include pertinent information for each project, including the name, description, scope, objective, and duration of the projects. Include information on tools, frameworks, methodologies, and languages used; the test cases, test scripts, test data, and test results; the challenges, solutions, and lessons from the project.
  • Review and update the portfolio regularly — Check it for errors, typos, or outdated information to ensure it is always presentable. Add new projects, tools, or skills that you learn and remove redundant or irrelevant ones.

Showcase your portfolio on our resume, LinkedIn profile, or other social media platforms for easy access to potential employers, clients, and recruiters.

How to Find the First Automation Testing Job

Finding your first automation testing job can be challenging but not impossible. Here are some tips and steps to help you:

  • Start by learning the basics of automation testing. Use the resources and courses we discussed to beef up your skillset.
  • Create a portfolio of automation testing projects that showcase your skills and experience, as detailed in the previous section.
  • Get the relevant certifications (like those we mentioned) in automation testing tools and technologies in demand in the market.
  • Network with automation testers, mentors, peers, and employers. You can get on forums, platforms, and groups that bring together testers to ask questions, learn from each other, and share experiences. Attend events where you can connect and meet with clients, recruiters, employers, or other testers to widen your net.
  • Apply for automation testing jobs matching your interests and skills. You can check out various reputable sites, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed, to search for opportunities in your location or remotely.

How to Advance Your Career as an Automation Tester

To become a test automation expert, you must keep growing and advancing your career. Here are some tips to help you with the process:

  • Keep learning new skills and technologies relevant to automation testing. You can find online courses, podcasts, tutorials, and certifications to learn new skills and improve on wha you already have.
  • Create a portfolio you can easily share to showcase your skills and experiences.
  • Get certifications in automation testing tools and technologies in demand in the market.
  • Network with other automation testers, mentors, peers, and employers. It opens up new avenues to get hired and opportunities to test your skills and work in new environments.

Advancing your career in automation testing involves seeking new opportunities to give you more to add to your portfolio and the list of what you can do.

Tips for Those Switching from Manual to Automated Testing

Transitioning from manual testing to automated approaches may seem intimidating, but with some tips to help you along, you should easily make the transition. Here they are, briefly:

  • Learn the basics of programming and scripting languages to ensure you can run the tools and technologies used.
  • Master the leading automation tools, including Cypress, Selenium, Katalon, TestComplete, and more.
  • Build a portfolio of automation testing projects showcasing your skills and experience.
  • Network with other automation testers, mentors, employers, and peers, to advance your progress in automated testing.

Switching is about getting the proper credentials and proving you can do automation testing.

Open Yourself Up To New Opportunities as a QA Automation Engineer

Becoming an automation tester may be challenging but rewarding and offers plenty of opportunities to grow and advance your career. As an automation tester, you can work in various domains, including web, mobile, desktop, and API, as well as master tools to automate and improve the quality of software applications.

Your skills are always in demand as long as the world needs software development. You can also learn cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, IoT, and blockchain to enhance testing skills and outcomes.

In your work, you collaborate with developers, testers, stakeholders, and other individuals in DevOps and Agile environments, further opening up opportunities in fields other than testing.

If you are passionate, curious, and creative, automation testing may be your career.