How to transition from a manual QA to SDET

Checking messages on screen


Did you always want to become an automation QA engineer, but were too scared to take the leap? in this article Sheekha shares tips to transition from a manual QA engineer to SDET.

Quality assurance teams have always been notorious in the tech world. The QA (Quality Assurance) engineers take pride in finding issues with a software application. There are a variety of testing methods that are used to test different software applications. There are a lot of domains that still require engineers who can manually test their applications but there has been a rise in automation testing for quite some time in the tech industry.

I started my career as a manual QA engineer and fast forward 8 years, I am now creating automation frameworks from scratch for various applications. While I won’t argue with the fact that manual testing is not dead, I feel automating the manual tests gives the manual testers a lot more time to perform exploratory testing. In this article, I will explain how to transition from a manual QA engineer to an automation QA engineer or an SDET.


SDET stands for Software Development/Design Engineer in Test. As an SDET, you will be responsible for maintaining the test automation framework and creating test scripts. SDETs are basically developers with testing skills. As an SDET you are not only responsible for creating automation tests but also for finding issues, being involved in design discussions and estimations but also creating a quality framework that helps the overall CI/CD pipeline.


QA code on laptop

Here are a few industry-recommended tips that I followed that helped me transition from a manual QA engineer to an SDET.

In my opinion, before you try to apply for SDET interviews, you must be certain that being an SDET fits your career path and helps you advance to the next level. Avoid becoming one for the sake of it. Transitioning from being a manual test engineer to an SDET requires patience and the ability to understand frameworks and programming languages.

  • Start with basics
    In order to become a pro in a certain subject, one must always be strong with the basics. Learn the basics of automation testing. Get familiar with how a framework is created and the core principles behind the creation of automation scripts. Understand how test scripts are designed, created and maintained. Learn how automation fits in the CI/CD pipeline of an organization. There are a lot of books in the market that provide in-depth knowledge on QA Automation and different frameworks.
  • Try an online courseYou might find this transition to be a huge learning curve and you should be ready to learn a lot more stuff about automation at a technical level. There are a lot of online blogs, tutorials and courses on automation testing and methodologies. You can select from a wide variety of free and paid courses. The biggest struggle initially will be in comprehending the terms and methods involved in various tools and frameworks but once you understand the basics of web application automation or mobile app automation, everything else will be easy to implement and learn.
  • Implement automation on your personal project
    Try implementing the lessons from the courses on a sample website or your own personal blog. Doing this from scratch will help you gain a strong hold on the basics of automation and help you excel in creating tests.
    For example, use what you have learned and try creating an automation test case for the simple login feature on a website.
  • Fail faster
    Many manual QA professionals often stop trying to become an SDET because they do not like to fail during the learning process. In my opinion, trying and failing faster will help you learn way more than just reading from a book or watching a video. When a test script does not work as intended, you will learn a lot more about the tool, the language and the framework when trying to fix the issue through various sources. It also boosts the confidence in knowing that you aren’t the only one who has faced this issue.
  • Participate in conferences
    I personally feel that QA conferences are beneficial to not just leaders at a company but also to engineers who want to stay connected on the latest QA trends and grow their network. I have learned a great deal about teams and tools all by attending various conferences all around the world both in person and online. So, try to make it a point to at least participate or attend one conference in a year.
  • Stay in the loop with the latest automation tools in your domain
    Newsletter, Tech Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are some of the few places you can go to in order to learn what’s new in the QA world or any latest automation tool that has been useful for many SDET engineers in your domain.
    For example, Talend is the latest ETL automation tool that is new. There are a lot more AI-based tool in the market as well.
  • Start automating your manual tasks at work
    Pick a simple automation tool and the programming language you are comfortable with and start automating 3 of the manual test cases that you created for your team. This way, you will not only benefit personally, but it would also help your team and organization at large.


The journey from being a manual quality assurance engineer to securing a job as an SDET can be daunting to say the least, but if you have the grit to challenge yourself and the curiosity to grow your skills, then this would be the right time to start. I hope this article would help you gain insight into what to expect and how to transition into an automation test engineer. These tips have helped me learn not just QA automation frameworks, but also other new tools and technologies and I hope it’ll help you too.



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