SDET vs QA tester – what’s the difference?

‘SDET’ (Software Development Engineer in Test) is becoming a popular job title in the Software Engineering world. Despite this, it’s not always clear what the difference is between this role and a QA tester role. In some cases, companies use the job titles interchangeably.

But what is the difference between the two roles?

Well, let’s break it down:

  • An SDET is skilled in development and testing. Whereas, a QA tester is involved in preparing and executing test cases manually or by automation.
  • Testers are limited when it comes to programming skills due to the heavy focus on functional testing. But, as well as this, SDETs have excellent programming skills.
  • A QA tester only tests the software at the end of the development phase. SDETs are active throughout the whole development process from designing, development and testing.
  • SDETs can take part in test automation tool development and can make it for generic use. However, testers are not expected to develop test automation tools. Instead, they may use them to automate the test cases required for software application.
  • SDETs are required to perform tasks such as performance testing and automated generation of test data. Testers are only required to perform testing-related tasks.
  • SDETs are required to know about product guidelines – QA testers don’t need to.

The difference in the responsibilities of the positions translates into a difference in the skills required for the jobs as well.

Technical SDET skills required:

  • Knowledge of C#, .NET, Java or other programming languages
  • Knowledge about various testing methods and corresponding tools, such as NUnit and MS Test
  • Able to find thresholds in existing code with the help of automation tools
  • Excellent time management and organisation skills
  • Excellent communication skills to create easy to read testing materials such as test cases, plans and strategies

QA Tester skills needed:

  • Ability to code Automated tests using one or more automation tools.
  • Ability to work with various QA/testing tools and technologies – e.g. Azure DevOps or TFS
  • Understanding of SQL Scripts and able to write SQL to work with various Databases.
  • Develop standards and procedures to determine product quality and release readiness
  • Discover bugs within software

If you’re looking to pursue a career in testing and are looking to gain more insight into the skills and responsibilities of these roles, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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