The rise of SDET and related problems in Software Testing

//The rise of SDET and related problems in Software Testing

The rise of SDET and related problems in Software Testing

What’s happening?

My LinkedIn feed over the last year is loaded with people wanting to hire SDET profiles. SDET expands to Software Development Engineering in Test. That is a fancy word adopted for what was previously known as Test Automation Engineer. Just like how people are called QA, Tester and QC and they all do the same.

Why is it happening?

Why this change from Test Automation Engineer to Software Development Engineer in Test? Just to attract talent in testing. Software Testing as a profession over decades has attracted very little talent of the world. Very few geniuses and too many just about average. In a country like India, to attract talent into software testing, calling people SDET and not a Manual Tester or Test Automation Engineer makes it sound cool and has higher chances of getting an average from IIT to signup for SDET with a high paying salary. As SDETs they think they are getting the closest feel to their dream job – Software Development – and hence more growth chances.


So what is causing this?

The world at one point was doing too slow testing. Now they can’t. By slow testing I do not mean manual testing. The industry woke up and realised that the toughest thing for them to crack is testing and not necessarily programming. To test a mobile app you might need more budget and testers than programming. Very similar to how much would you test one line of code change for an auto pilot in an aeroplane? Mobile Apps have exploded the commercial testing problem. So, here we are in a situation that every company is fighting for great talent. Everybody thinks they can attract and buy great testing talent that they never bothered to create over the last decade by ignoring testing. Plus, to them, good testing means plenty of automation. So, lets hire more SDET and problem will be resolved is their motto.


What is the problem?

Problem 1: People don’t know how to articulate their testing problem. Money in the bank makes them think they can solve their testing problem by hiring talent. The problem is, there isn’t enough talent in software testing profession to the extent that so many people can be hired however the industry will not be ready to admit it.

Problem 2: The truth is, a lot of fresh talent out of college is being hired to create the overgrowing need of SDET. Most of these SDETs will know a lot of programming and scripting than testing. In a few years we will have an overload of people writing script who don’t know about testing but dictating how testing will be done in organisations.

Problem 3: Over the last decade, I haven’t seen people learning the importance of testability. Our ability to test (even through automation) depends on how testable the product is built. Irrespective of someone is an SDET or not, the first of the few questions they should be asking is about testability before jumping to test a product. That is not the world we have built over the last decade. So this will have its own repercussions on the quality of products.

Who will be the most affected by these?

End users.

The next time you want to put a 1 star rating and say “This app sucks” imagine why a company spending half a million dollar to test the app is not getting their app right for their users.




About the Author:

Pradeep is the Chief Servant to Employees and Customers besides being Founder Managing Director of Moolya. He is also known as the Kung Fu Panda of Software Testing. Never before has a Panda been so feared and so loved. Experience the Skadoosh!


  1. Lakshminarayan TV February 18, 2016 at 7:33 am - Reply

    So true Pradeep,Agree with you.

  2. Keshav Singh February 18, 2016 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Ek dum sahi…
    Thanks for sharing .

  3. harikrishna February 18, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply


  4. HappyWaters February 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Pradeep,

    Did you recently write this article? Myths and Misconceptions are plenty in the industry, and no one is spared from having some of their favorites! I think it’s only a forgiveable mistake.

  5. Sankar February 18, 2016 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Agree !

  6. Krithika B February 19, 2016 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Bang on..couldn’t agree more

  7. Hari February 19, 2016 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Hi Pradeep,

    I think the complete set of responsibilities and the expectations for SDET is not covered in this article.
    There is more to SDET than trying to hire better than average talent for a programmer in test role.

    I definitely see tremendous change in mindset of the organizations in recognizing and hiring right Quality engineers/leaders who have skills beyond traditional testing in the end of the cycle.


  8. Amit February 19, 2016 at 7:33 am - Reply


  9. Srinivas Nellipudi February 19, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Completely agree Pradeep. The words ‘Manual’ and ‘Non-technical’ are hardly liked by the new generation testers. They are biased towards automation/programming compared to Testing/Exploring [which is manual/non-technical most of the times], as organizations only want SDETs or Testers with programming skills. Testers definitely need programming skills but the level should be just enough to finish their backlog tasks. Testers real focus should be on testing the context and support the dev process.

  10. Linkesh Kanna Velu February 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I agree to some extent. But we cannot simply neglect the SDET roles in our projects.
    We should have a right team mixture in QA to balance things.
    SDET should take care of technical/redundant stuffs and they should leave the ground clear for QA Engineers to play with their Exploratory Skills.
    Also I agree that we cannot simply hire a fresh talent out of college straight away to a SDET position.
    They should start as a QA and then they can try to learn and leverage their technical skills to solve the problems around testing.
    Otherwise it will definitely end up like this-

  11. Tarun banga February 19, 2016 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Pradeep
    Very well explained however SDET is not a new role in software testing industry. I myself was SDET IN 2001 and its more than a decade and half now. But the problems you have explained may be true if SDET roles are not defined properly (which may br true in india). My understanding of SDET role is that they have to be tester first and blended with development skill to do effective testing and that too with speed.
    Tarum Banga

  12. Sachin February 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Nice one pradeep

    I was a SDET and a test engineer before .. I have done both the roles .. I feel just hiring people who dont know testing challenges and just coding (as you rightly mentioned) is the problem. As testers we need to adapt to newer coding challenges and hence become good testers and can write scripts that certify our products faster, roll to the market quicker and wow the end users.

  13. Srinivasan D February 20, 2016 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    A True Facts.. All that glitters is not Testing

  14. Milton Pereira July 7, 2016 at 8:58 am - Reply

    This nice article explaining problem faced by testing industries. We should blend development and testing skills to make a perfect QA.

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