The Dark Side of Being a Test Automation Engineer

Last Updated: April 2021

TL;DR

  1. Loneliness
  2. Clark Kent’s Underrated Level
  3. Minimal Wage Compensation
  4. Career Growth Easily Capped

Motivation

Unfortunately, I’m aware that I’m not the only one that felt like this at a given moment in time, and even worse, this is still a reality in a large and undesired amount of organizations.

5 Feelings You’ve Probably Faced as a Test Automation Engineer

NOTE: Read these with a slight touch of sarcasm and not as the plain and brutal truth that we live in — although it might be for some.

1. Blame Magnet

As a Test Automation Engineer, part of your job is to implement automated mechanisms to ensure that your product’s features are working as required at all times, which no one cares about because it’s your job but on the other hand everyone will blame you otherwise.

Every time, 100% of the time, if there’s an issue found in production you’re the one to blame. Because you haven’t tested it enough, because your automation testing isn’t good enough, or simply because you’re just not capable of ensuring the quality of the whole product. And the list goes on.

2. Loneliness

Being left aside on meetings, product decisions, and implementation discussions is also part of a tester’s day.

3. Clark Kent’s Underrated Level

Sadly, if you’re a tester you‘re going to be the Clark Kent of your team. Whether you keep your glasses on or you don’t, you’re perceived as someone that’s simply there to automate a bunch of repetitive steps that would otherwise be done manually. And on top of that, because the tests you automated keep failing, you’re the reason that your team is slowing down the development pace.

Metaphorically speaking, for your organization, you’re a dispensable Clark Kent type of tester that’s there because the industry requires so. And, even if you take your glasses off you’ll be seen as a disruptive and unwelcoming negative force because “We’ve always done this way and we’re not going to change it”.

4. “Thank you for the millions of dollars, here’s your minimal wage compensation”

You’ll spend most days of your life ensuring that every feature is working as expected to allow your organization to continuously capitalize on its products. Yet as a test automation engineer, on average, you are paid way less than a developer or product owner.

5. Career Growth Easily Capped

Companies love managers, and if you’re not one (eg. a test manager) you’re just a cog in the wheel that’s, again, replaceable. Therefore, you’ve to be promoted to a management position as soon as possible. Make it your life goal. You’ll probably live unfulfilled, but that doesn’t matter because your career path will only know one way — up.

Conclusion

Friendly advice, don’t panic. Firstly, try to figure out if there’s something you can do that can change the situation you’re in, and for that, you can start by asking for honest and truthful feedback from your closest peers — if you have none, make your own conclusions. Secondly, simply move on. There’s a world full of opportunities and organizations that will value your sweat and tears.

Just remember that opportunities don’t simply show up at your door. Create your own opportunities by being the best version of yourself — work hard, stay humble.

Do these feelings seem familiar to you? Have you faced or are you facing different ones? Feel free to reach out or share in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading, see you in the next article!

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Hey, my name is Sérgio and I’m a Test Automation Engineer by trade. Here you’ll find short and straight to the point articles related to my craft.

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