Why “Test Automation Engineer” Job Titles Can Be Damaging

Breakdown traditional QA silos by empowering developers to own quality checks.

Test Automation Engineer; Automation QA Engineer; Automation Tester; Test and Automation Engineer; Just login into LinkedIn and search for the term “automation” and you’ll find no shortage in the demand for “Automation Engineers” in the digital marketplace.

LinkedIn job title examples
LinkedIn job title examples
LinkedIn job title examples

The desire for companies and teams in wanting to automate more to help alleviate the manual effort towards testing has become an organic evolution within the testing space. While automation itself has been around for a long time, the push in recent years specifically asking for “Test Automation Engineers” I believe has helped create a misconception as to what it means to work as a tester within a tech company.

While a job title can provide employees with a scope and help to create expectations around responsibilities, they can also involuntary shape our understanding of job profiles.

Testing is a broad space, and automation is a tool that helps remove the need for manual testing, but automation alone isn’t testing. By creating an endless scroll of job hires for “Test Automation Engineers”, solidifies the idea that the role of a tester is simply to automate tasks.

Automation isn’t testing

Testers can leverage the benefits that come from having automation in place, but we should remember that automation alone isn’t testing. Think about it, much like a builder’s toolbelt will house space for a hammer, the hammer alone won’t enable the builder to perform their job overall.

Automation hammer

Testing as a whole involves more than having a robust automation suite in place. Automation will help us quickly understand if any flaws have been introduced, but it won’t help us figure out the root cause. The discovery of an edge-case comes from performing actual testing by a test engineer and not from automation.

Companies may have the desire for having quality automation scripts in place, but ultimately recruiting for a “Test Automation Engineer” role alone creates a cloud on the scope of what it means to be a tester & to have good testing practices within your company.

limitations
limitations

If the intent for recruiting a “Test Automation Engineer” was well and truly for 100% automation then there wouldn’t be any problem, but more often than not the job profile contains a various number of responsibilities and expected activities outside of automation.

Automation has already earned itself a space on the testers’ toolbelt, and it’s here to stay, but recruiting for 100% automation is rarely the case. Instead of recruiting with “Test Automation Engineer” job titles, the focus should be put back onto the practice itself, which is testing. Recruit for the role and structure the expected responsibilities with a focus towards automation to avoid a job title that sounds like a one-way swimlane.

The constant battering of job postings that recruit for a “Test Automation Engineer” can be enough to help solidify the falsehood as to what we believe the tasks of a tester are or should be. In a recent medium article, I described how software testing is evolving, and how the responsibilities of a QA have broadened, and that it’s not all about automation.

If “test” and “automation” are continuously used together in a job title, we begin to believe and understand that it’s the primary role of a tester to automate. Bring the focus back to recruiting for mindful testers by removing “automation” from your recruiting posts, and help “Breakdown traditional QA silos”. Recruit for the role and not for the tool.

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