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15 Must Have Skills For a Top Automation Tester

asjayavel profile image JAYAVEL Originally published at testsigma.com ・13 min read

In the accelerated agile way of working, every firm demands a highly-skilled automation tester. Slowly, automation testing is replacing manual testing(though it cannot be done completely). Automation Testing is the key to the business success of the software industry. With automation, you can expand your business to a larger audience saving both time and effort.

As an automation tester, it is very essential to have certain skills which help in testing the application better. Let’s understand in the article, the automation testing skills required to be an efficient and successful automation tester in the software testing industry.

How does test automation benefit the software testing industry?

  • Replacing manual testing processes with automation testing has helped in the rapid adoption of agile methodology across software development industries
  • Automated testing benefits large scale projects that undergo frequent changes by speeding up the testing process and making deliveries within the stipulated timeline.
  • Manual testing in agile requires a lot of human intervention and the overall testing effort becomes tedious, automation testing helps solve this problem by automating the repetitive tasks.
  • Usually, for repetitive tasks, test scripts need to be created once and these can be reused every time the same scenario needs to be executed.
  • With every feature enhancement, the scripts can be updated as per the requirement and then can be reused.
  • Automated testing expedites the overall testing process. Automation testing can reduce the time to run repetitive tests from days to hours saving time and money.
  • Automation testing increases the depth and scope of tests that improve the software quality and also increases the test coverage of the application modules.
  • The automated test scripts can be reused multiple times for any frequent change in the software.
  • Automation testing helps the DevOps team to ship the software to the market at the earliest.

What are the skills needed for an automation tester?

Let us look at the top must-have skills for an automation tester:

i. Focus on analytical thinking :

For an automation tester, an instinct for analytics and logical application of concepts is important. Once the business team provides the business requirement document, the automation testing team should focus on understanding every aspect of the feature very well from an automation perspective.

The automation testers should raise queries in the agile refinement ceremonies to bridge any gap that can be a prerequisite in automating a certain functionality of an application.

The automation testing team needs to think and identify areas of the functionality which can or cannot be automated and define a detailed automation test strategy. The testing team should plan a walkthrough session with all the stakeholders specifically to discuss the automation testing approach for a feature.

Automation testing teams should collect ideas from all the team members and use the same to formulate the test plan document. In the test plan document define the scope of testing, automation testing approach, execution timelines, etc. Analyze how the test cases can be automated as per the priority.

The automation testing team can plan internal training sessions to discuss the automation testing approach. Also, the resources can share knowledge on certain automation tools that can be best utilized for the current project.

The testing team can discuss the estimation effort for automating each module of the software. This includes test designing as well as execution effort. Critical thinking is important to properly test software, write automated tests to cover defects in the software.

ii. Understanding of programming languages :

To be a successful automation tester, the tester should have a good understanding of programming languages.

Mostly the automated test tools use programming languages like Java, Python, Perl, Vb script, etc. The automation tester needs to be proficient in these programming languages. The thought process of the automation tester should be to identify and cover all the possible modules that demand automation.

The automation tester must have good coding skills in order to design the test scripts. Self-learning is a good way to get acquainted with these programming languages that can help in designing the automated test scripts.

Though it is not required today that you code your automated scripts with scriptless test automation, it is good to know the basics.

The testing team needs to ensure that the code conforms to certain designated quality standards. Along with maintaining the overall quality of the software, it is indeed essential to design easy to understand test scripts. Such that they can be understood by everyone in the team at a high level.

The team usually has an added advantage if they have an experienced automation tester in the team. Their previous project experience can be utilized in designing test cases and test suites.

iii. Good functional testing skills :

To excel as an automation tester, the tester should have sound knowledge and experience of functional testing performed manually.

It will be beneficial if the tester along with the application knowledge also understands the domain very well. For e.g., if a wholesale banking application requires payments domain knowledge to design automated test scripts of any given functionality, then it will be an added advantage if the tester along with good scripting skills also is well versed with domain-specific knowledge.

Automation testers should be well aware of the manual testing process and the test techniques that are adopted in the testing phase. It can be challenging and time-consuming for automation testers to design test scripts without having good functional knowledge of the application. If the automation test team has good exposure to the functionality they can achieve good test coverage and better test accuracy.

As manual testers are well acquainted with the STLC, Automation testers also need to understand the STLC (Software test life cycle) very well. This is required to know how the testing is performed at each step. This also makes automation of the manual test cases easy.

Refer manual testing to learn more.

iv. Expertise in creation of test scripts :

In the market, there is a wide range of automation frameworks, out of which some will expect the tester to have sufficient programming knowledge when it comes to writing automated test scripts whereas for some tools the test scripts are written in plain English language and do not require an understanding of backend logic and coding.

Most of the organizations in today’s date are using the Cucumber framework for test automation. In cucumber, as the test scripts are designed using plain English language, sufficient knowledge on Selenium WebDriver is enough to create the test scripts.

Automation testers should have programming knowledge if the organizations are dependent on automated tools like UFT (Unified functional tester) or QTP (Quick Test Professional).

The automation tester should develop the test cases with the aim of saving both time and effort during the test creation as well as the test execution process. An automation tester should have a good grasp of programming languages like Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, Vb script which are widely used, these days, in most of the automated test tools.

For a web-based application, the automation tester should be able to develop efficient test scripts for functionalities such as submitting a form, to generate a popup, to upload a file, etc. Estimating the complexity of an application, an automation tester should be able to create test scripts for a small as well as large module in the application.

Much before designing the test scripts the automation tester should question in the agile refinement sessions if there’s any unclarity on any requirement or functionality. This is the base step before creating the test scripts. Once the tester has better insight into the application, it becomes easier to create test scripts as well.

v. Possess good knowledge on Automated testing tools:

The automation testers should be well-equipped with ample knowledge about the automated testing tools present in the market that eventually help to optimize the overall testing process.

There is a wide range of automated testing tools available in the market that provide extremely superior benefits to an enterprise. To excel in the automation testing field, the tester should have good understanding and exposure of the automation test tools.

Depending on the selection of the automated testing tool, the tester should be able to classify whether certain test cases can be automated or not.

Once the tester is well-versed with the automated tools, he can utilize his automation testing skills for designing the test cases that guarantee good test coverage and speed up the test execution process.

vi. Clear understanding of business requirements :

An automation tester needs to have a clear understanding of the business requirements.

Let’s understand this with an example which all of us must have come across. If you are unwell and you visit a doctor, the doctor while examining you, also wants to know your medical history whether you have suffered from any kind of disease or ailment in the past. Depending on the overall past and present medical condition he can then suggest certain medicines for recovery.

On the same note, a skilled automation tester must know the application inside out, both at frontend and backend level before the testing phase begins.

An automation tester must be familiar with :

  • The programming language on which the application is developed.
  • Browser or device requirement where the application is to be accessed by the end-users.
  • APIs or any web services connected to the application and their working.
  • Which databases are used for storing the backend information? Working of all the modules and features in the application.
  • Is there a need for manual testing for testing some areas in the application?
  • Planned test execution time by the automation tester.
  • If there are any defects that were deferred in the last release and expected to be fixed in this release and the overall impact of this fix on the application.
  • Test execution completion delivery date.
  • Project release timelines.

vii. Well versed with agile, DevOps and continuous delivery :

Automation testing demand in the market is increasing with new-age agile and DevOps methodology replacing waterfall model.

As agile methodology involves frequent changes, it is essential to have an automation testing process in place for the same. Automation testers can automate the test scripts for a module to be able to respond to frequent customer induced requirement changes.

Let’s go through the agile scrum methodology in detail.

To achieve good speed and agility it becomes important for an automation tester to automate the testing process and configure them to automatically run when the deployment is completed in a testable environment.

Automation tools and continuous integration tools such as Jenkins, Git lab can help us achieve this integration. So, the automation tester should be familiar with the usage of these integration tools required for automation. Automation ultimately ensures the success of DevTestOps.

You may refer to a detailed explanation of how to extend test automation to enable continuous delivery.

viii. Maintain good communication and interaction with stakeholders :

Having good communication skills and collaboration is essential for automation testers. This is most important before and during the testing phase as automation testers have to interact with developers, business analysts, feature engineers (possessing excellent domain-specific knowledge) and all other stakeholders.

In the agile refinement sessions, the automation testers can formulate open questions to be raised in front of all the stakeholders to get better clarity on the requirements.

Also, once the automated test scripts are designed, the automation testers need to give a walkthrough to the developers, business and all other stakeholders.

During the test execution process, if any defect retest fails, the testers apart from raising the defect on a specific tool can also communicate the same to the developers in the daily stand up meeting. Sometimes, environmental issues may appear that could block the testing process and delay the delivery. Maintaining good communication about these issues will avoid any end-time surprises related to the time of delivery/release.

The automation testers can interact with all the stakeholders and discuss the overall testing progress and status in the agile scrum meetings.

ix. Curious to learn new technologies and trends :

Being an automation tester you should be willing and curious to learn new technologies in the area of automation.

Considering the history of automation tools being widely used in the organizations, earlier firms preferred using QTP (Quick Test Professional) tool for automation testing for a web-based application whereas now Selenium WebDriver is in huge demand.

In the market, demand for new automated testing tools keeps on changing as per advanced technology and the benefit it provides to the software industry. So, be it QTP, Selenium, Testsigma or some other automated testing tool, an automation tester should be well versed with the automation techniques.

The automation concepts should be very clear to the automation tester so that he is well aware of what needs to be automated, how it needs to be automated and why it needs to be automated.

If you are good at implementing the logic needed for automation then you can apply the same logic in any kind of automation tool and design appropriate test suites suitable for testing a software application.

x. Able to assess and mitigate the risk :

Though test automation seems like a strategic step in the agile world, there is always a risk associated with the test automation process.

If there are changes in the interfaces, after the automation test scripts were prepared, it can cause a problem during the test execution process as irrelevant test results will be generated due to these interface changes. Similar problems might occur in case of changes in business logic. This incurs additional cost to support the changes, also it can involve modification of test data and impact other test cases as well.

There’s a risk of issues related to the environment execution. This increases the total time taken for testing as the application is not stable throughout the testing process. Overall increased testing time results in a delay in delivery of the software.

An automation tester needs to keep a mitigation plan ready for such risks encountered during the testing phase. The testers need to monitor the test execution process and immediately report any obnoxious application behaviour to the developers and the stakeholders.

Early identification of such problems helps to prevent the occurrence of such issues and mitigates the risks.

xi. Good problem-solving skills :

Automation tester needs to have in-depth technical knowledge of the automated testing tools before they actually start using them.

In the test execution phase, testers come across scenarios where the script is generating some errors but the functionality of the application is working on expected lines. On the other hand, the script could be showing success but the application may have some real-time errors. The automation testers must have good problem-solving skills that are required to debug these errors. These issues mostly occur when the automation tester does not have sufficient knowledge for configuring the test scripts.

If you want to become a successful automation tester you need to have proficient knowledge in configuring the tools and steps to resolve them when a situation like false positives and false negatives arise.

xii. Good reporting skills :

An automation tester must possess good reporting skills.
Automation testers should regularly communicate the status of the application under test to all the stakeholders.

The practice of regular reporting leads to better coordination of the overall test project and also gives transparency to the project management in terms of the test execution status, show stopper and critical bugs in the application, defect closure status, release timelines, etc which eventually help them to make better decisions where needed.

xiii. Excellent at time management :

An automation tester must be excellent in time management. This helps in increasing the overall productivity and thus meeting the delivery deadlines. The purpose of time management should be to prioritize the tasks with respect to the creation of automated test scripts and executing the same.

The automation testing team needs to determine the sequence of tasks and plan how the team will spend the available time. The team can divide the tasks into smaller blocks of time. If you keep the work defined in smaller pieces it will be better in understanding the key responsibilities and when can you have them completed. Managing your time allows you to produce higher quality work as well as utilize the extra time in improving the automated testing process.

xiv. Passion for automation :

Being an automation tester, you need to keep on upgrading your skills to be able to deliver an efficient product to the customer.

Learning is an ever going process and also an essential factor for career growth.

An automation tester needs to be passionate about learning new things and thinking of new ideas to improve the automation process and take efforts and implement it.

This promotes automation tester’s adaptability and their ability to switch between different environments and tools whenever the market demands it. Automation is the key to success in the agile software development process. So keep learning to succeed.

xv. Online Automation Testing Courses and Certifications :

A certification always stands as an added advantage for an automation tester.
It helps to build a strong profile for an automation tester and enhance your knowledge in terms of automation testing.

You may also read more about the top online automation testing courses and certifications.

Conclusion

Automation testers can be termed as “Full-stack QA engineers” as their role is to test all aspects of product quality such as functionality, performance, security, etc in combination with various technologies and test techniques to the application under test.

Automation testers must be multiskilled and most importantly possess a combination of domain knowledge, technical expertise and testing skills that allow them to quickly deliver quality software. To become a top automation tester, the testers need to stay current on the top test automation trends. An automation tester can develop the above-defined qualities and skills to be an efficient gem in the software industry.

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