Roles and Responsibilities of a Test Automation Engineer

May 10, 2023 | Best Practices, Test Automation Insights

laptop with code on the screen

QA tester, automation specialist, automation systems engineer — these are just a few of the names for a test automation engineer. No matter what their title may be, they’re essential to the software development life cycle, so here’s a look at what they do.

 

Markets and Markets reported that the test automation market size was worth 24.7 billion USD in 2022 and is expected to increase to 52.7 billion USD by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.4%. This shows that the test automation industry will likely expand for years to come, only heightening the demand for test automation engineers.

These engineers hold a key role on your testing team. They are responsible for identifying opportunities for automation within the software development life cycle and implementing them with the necessary code, tools, and frameworks. 

From generating reports to creating a comprehensive automation strategy that improves the defect management process, test automation engineers have no shortage of responsibilities on your team. The diversity of their tasks is matched only by their creativity and skillset, so we’ll take a look at what it takes to excel in this career.

What Is a Test Automation Engineer?

A test automation engineer is a specific type of software developer that specializes in designing and writing programs that perform tests on new or existing products automatically. They have a wide range of job responsibilities, like executing automation tests, familiarizing themselves with current software protocols, and identifying areas of improvement for customer service processes.

An automation test engineer job description will vary by industry and company. But to give a sense of their day-to-day duties, a few of the primary automation test engineer roles and responsibilities include:

  • Finding places within the team’s software development process where automation could be executed.
  • Designing and executing QA tests with scripts that test functionality periodically without the need for human intervention.
  • Performing tests on all parts of your product’s infrastructure, such as databases, networks, applications, systems, software, firmware, and hardware.
  • Locating bugs and identifying quality issues within a company’s IT-related processes, whether on a business, development, or service level.
  • Installing the necessary tools and frameworks that make better automation possible.
  • Working with other departments, including non-technical team members to understand how automation can improve their processes and identify areas of improvement.
  • Obtaining requirements from stakeholders and end-users to find automation solutions that align with development goals.

The bulk of their duties may lie in the testing phase of the development process. But the job of a software automation test engineer covers everything from identifying areas for improvement and automating tests to receiving end-user feedback to improve a product. This means that their work spans the entire life of a project, requiring them to wear many hats.

Technical Skills That All Test Automation Engineers Should Have

To fulfill their many responsibilities, test automation engineers should have a wide range of both technical and soft skills. 

Some of the soft skills include keen business sense, effective leadership and project management abilities, and strong interpersonal skills. Combined with the technical proficiency to get the job done, these engineers can help to streamline your product-creation and testing processes. 

Here’s a deeper look at their much-needed technical skills.

Understanding of Programming Languages and Automation Frameworks

Test automation engineers must be fluent in several programming languages and should have deep knowledge of multiple automation frameworks. The most common languages they should be proficient in include:

  • C#
  • Perl
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Ruby

While not a specific tool or process in themselves, automation frameworks coordinate the operations of multiple links in your software development chain. Thus, a test automation engineer must have a thorough understanding of these as well. 

Several types of automation frameworks exist, so your engineer should be familiar with each to recommend and implement the right one for your project. Programming languages are the substance of your code, and automation frameworks tie the disparate pieces of your process together. Therefore, your test automation engineer will need to be fluent in both.

Familiarity with Automation Tools and Technologies

Your test automation engineer should also be fluent in tools that automate your pipeline, like machine learning, AI, analytics, and automated neural networks (ANN). A solid foundation in mathematics and statistics is also valuable.

Often, these engineers work with various tools to complete their tasks. The right tool should allow them to identify and remediate build errors quickly, create stable staging environments, and shorten timeframes so that products launch faster. 

Additionally, when you hire your test automation engineer, make sure they know your automation tools, or that they can learn them with ease.

Knowledge of Software Testing, Programming Language and Quality Assurance Principles

In addition to programming language and tool knowledge, a test automation engineer should have deep familiarity with the different types of software testing that can be performed. Some engineers begin their career as manual testers, giving them plenty of experience with the type of tests that they could automate, such as:

  • Unit testing
  • Integration testing
  • System testing
  • Acceptance testing
  • Regression testing
  • Functional testing
  • Much more

Since testing aims to ensure that a product works as intended, a test automation engineer should also be well-acquainted with quality assurance (QA) principles. They should know the four stages of QA — plan, implement, check, and adjust — and should be able to use their automation skills to guarantee that all products meet the necessary quality requirements. (After all, that’s the purpose of running a software test.)

Key Responsibilities of Test Automation Engineers

Here’s a closer look at the main tasks test automation engineers perform on a daily basis.

Developing and Executing Automation Scripts

One key part of an automation engineer’s job is to develop and execute automation scripts. Consisting of a launch point, variables with corresponding binding values, and a source code, automation scripts are snippets of code that help to extend a product. Thus, a test automation engineer helps to create them. 

These scripts are useful for automating mundane tasks. So when engineers develop and execute them with the assistance of a wizard, more time is available for other team members to focus on building a better product. 

Analyzing and Understanding Testing Procedures and Requirements

Before they can create the automation scripts that streamline the testing process, a test automation engineer must first familiarize themself with the testing procedures and requirements that are already in place. They will need to become acquainted with the software approval process and should analyze the current testing procedures to see which ones can be automated and which ones must remain manual. They should also know what the requirements for each testing procedure are so that they can adhere to all applicable standards.

Designing and Implementing Effective Test Automation Solutions

After they’ve reviewed the testing procedures and requirements that are already in place, test automation engineers can begin to recommend new solutions that will streamline the process further. They’ll be responsible for designing the automation systems required for implementing a solution, and they should use their knowledge of automation tools to integrate their ideas into existing development processes.

Ensuring Product Quality & Processes

Since the job of a test automation engineer involves improving the testing phase of the software development life cycle, their work requires them to ensure that all product quality standards are met. They must also ensure that the automation solutions they implement thoroughly cover all necessary aspects of a product and lead to the resolution of any errors found. 

By following the necessary procedures and processes, their work should ultimately lead to not only a more efficient testing strategy but a higher quality product.

Maximize Efficiency and Quality with a Test Automation Engineer

When you hire a test automation engineer, you’re bringing an employee on board that makes other team members’ jobs easier. Their work can reduce or eliminate the need for tedious, costly manual testing, resulting in higher efficiency and greater productivity. And with automated, streamlined, and error-proof processes, you remove the potential for human error, helping to generate a higher-quality product. Thus, with your developers free to focus on more creative tasks, a more innovative product will surely result.

Ranorex is a software automation tool that test automation engineers rely on, complete with multiple functionalities that help them test their builds efficiently. Fewer errors, a more stable environment, and shorter project timeframes are a few benefits our products offer.

 To learn more, check out our solutions today.

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