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Five Tips to Improve as An Automation Engineer

Five Tips to Improve as An Automation Engineer

Automation engineers are an essential part of any Agile team, while Agile methodologies demand shorter release cycles. Test automation is there to help with the testing activities, but a successful one requires far more than just code writing skills. So the question remains, how can we improve as automation engineers? 💡 

Many people feel stuck in their current career as automation engineers. They have anxiety over the future and currently looking for different roles or considering other paths.

In addition, many people want to improve their careers but are afraid of many uncertainties. My suggestion is to continue doing what you love and consider multiple factors before you decide to switch roles.

Improve As An Automation Engineer

In this article, I would like to share some tips beyond the conventional ones. There is always room for improvement in every area, but transformation takes time. Paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin- if you don’t have continual growth and progress, improvement and success have no meaning.

Table of Contents

Embrace A Quality Mindset

As test automation engineers, our focus is to learn every tool, framework and improve our coding skills almost every day. Learning is ok, and continuous learning must be an essential part of our career, whether you are an automation tester or functional tester. That being said, let’s explore the core, in this case, the quality mindset.

What does it mean to embrace a quality mindset? As test automation engineers, we need to focus on all the aspects of our applications, not only translating the acceptance criteria into test scripts to find bugs.

Instead, we need to start thinking from a customer’s perspective and adopt quality as a core value. keep in mind that all our test scripts are useless if they don’t add value to our customers. My suggestion is to adopt a customer-centric approach while designing test automation scripts and remember everyone impacts quality.

Consider yourself an empathetic test automation engineer. place the end-user perspective at the forefront when you design your test automation strategy and empathize with the different user personas you’re targeting 🎯

Gain Knowledge in Other Testing Areas 

I always mention the necessity to become a generalist instead of an expert on one tool or programming language. The most critical aspect besides any tool or process is helping the team meet customer expectations.

Therefore, it is not only functional testing or automated testing. We must learn other areas, such as performance, accessibility, testability, security, mobile, visual testing, and data testing. 

Technology has evolved over many years, and we have many areas and new skills to learn almost every day. Let’s explore some of the areas that will help you improve in your career as an automation engineer:

Gain Knowledge in other Testing Areas 

Exploratory Testing 

We need to know-how to perform exploratory testing to consider other possible technical and business scenarios that will result in an error and how those errors could be captured in our current test scripts and improve our E2E tests. I suggest starting with Explore it, a great book by Elisabeth Hendrickson.

Data Testing

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence use data every day, and still, data must be validated. That’s why testing is essential to get data quality. My suggestion is to start learning about Data model performance; this can help identify critical scenarios where ML prediction errors lead to critical error analysis.

Visual Testing

For those automation engineers validating a UI, the UI look and feel of the application is vital for our end-users. Companies spend a lot on strategies to acquire more customers through advertisements, campaigns, and more.

A visual error in production can jeopardize our reputation and impact our brand. My recommendation is to start learning some visual testing tools.

Accessibility Testing

As you probably know, making the applications accessible to everyone is mandated by legal regulations in many countries and creates a culture of software application must be for everyone. So my suggestion is to start reading about accessibility testing and accessibility standards.

Security Testing

Security bugs tend to be costly in terms of legal penalties and brand reputation. We should be able to automate security tests and perhaps integrate those in your CI pipelines. My suggestion is to start reading about OWASP and some security testing tools.

Chaos Testing

Chaos testing/Chaos engineering testing is related to discovering vulnerabilities and preventing outages before impacting our customers. In simple words, we want all the problems emerging in a controlled environment where our systems can recover and adapt to any failure. So if you’re going to start learning about Chaos Testing, my recommendation is Chaos Engineering by Casey Rosenthal.

Get the Right Help

Obtaining support from others can increase learning and improve your career significantly. But, first, find a mentor you trust who has mastered the skills you’re trying to accomplish. It could be technical skills or soft skills.

My suggestion is you to ask yourself: “Who in my company or my network would notice my changes and provide me honest feedback?” 🤔 Finding a mentor could be hard sometimes, and we want to have the best teacher to improve. If you can’t find a mentor in your network, you can ask your manager to provide quality mentoring. 

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” 

Automation is More than Test Script Execution

Most people consider test execution the key to automated testing. Reducing test execution is not the only key indicator. Still, many cases and a bad experience can demonstrate negative results.

In addition, if you don’t have a good test automation strategy focusing on your customers, it’s crucial to let your team do their tasks with fewer difficulties. Still, it’s more important to ensure your product helps your customers since they are the ones that allow you to run your business.

Finally, consider realistic goals; remember, it becomes a wish or dream if you have a goal without a plan.

We need to align the business objectives to our test automation strategy, and we must guarantee the delivery of high-quality software applications that satisfy our company’s business goals.

Learn by Teaching Others 

As probably you are aware, teaching others facilitates your own ability to learn. In addition, teachers can improve communication skills, increase confidence, and improve leadership ability. Share what you know with your team or your co-workers.

My recommendation is to force yourself to do it by putting a teaching date on your calendar or agreeing to lead a training session a few months. With objectives like those, your learning will be much more focused and practical.

“Be a Teacher for all, not a Preacher for some”

Final Thoughts

Knowledge is considered the most valuable treasure in human history. If you plan to improve in your career as an automation engineer, you can’t go wrong deciding to follow the continuous learning journey.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. So if you want to be the change and impact positively, become a forever learner 📚

Learn something new to improve

Another tip I would like to share is to feed your mind. I read books, but sometimes it is hard to stay focused and not lose context within a few days. So lately, I have been reading more articles in bite-sized formats; I suggest reading more articles or listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

Congratulations if you are already following the tips above. If not, find your sweet spot on how you would like to improve and share it with others. The more we share knowledge, the more we learn. 

Happy bug hunting! 💫

About the author

Enrique De Coss

Enrique Decoss is Senior QA Manager with more than 17 years of experience in Automation Tools, Web Programming with a strong background in Web Tools, API testing, Performance Testing, Linux OS and Testing Techniques, in-depth knowledge on testing tools, cloud computing, Automation Frameworks, Agile methodologies (Scrum, DSDM, Open Agile, LeSS, Kanban Certified). His passion and commitment towards the community are always encouraging for others.

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