Differences between SDET and Software Tester

Looking for how to build a career path? If you are a software tester, or you plan to develop in this field, should pay attention to SDET opportunities.

What comes under SDET? Who coined the term?

Regarding the differences between SDET and Software Tester, SDET is an abbreviation to Software Development Engineer in Test. The first time it appeared in Microsoft up to 15 years ago and soon was caught up by other big Product companies. The reason was a need to fill the gap between developers and testers. If to shorten it into one sentence, SDETs have a tester mindset and a developer’s skill. it’s one of the best career opportunities for QA testers and I’ll try to explain my point further.

What does SDET do, compared to a software tester

Differences between SDET and Software Tester, and the distinctive feature of SDET compared to a software tester is the ability to program. While companies strive for speed in development, the need for close and effective communication between developers and testers increases. SDET is a full-fledge tester, who is able to optimize testing processes, as well as help to create low-level unit tests. Often they are even part of a development team. The unique combination of tester and developer skills makes them a perfect resource for testing framework development.

I compared the core responsibilities indicated in job descriptions of an SDET and a software tester on the most popular job portals in the US, like Dice, Indeed, Simplyhired. The main focus of  SDETs is creating a testing framework, choosing testing tools, communicating with both the tester and the development team in order to set up agile processes. Software tester, at the same time, works on testing itself. However, both professions can intersect to some extent.

QA engineers plan the testing process considering the budget, distribute tasks among colleagues, communicate bugs to developers, create test cases and scenarios, check the tests to ensure that all customer requirements are met. 

SDETs examine the product code all the way through the development lifecycle, ensure that the product meets the customer expectations, write scalable testing frameworks, develop test tools, run all the types of testing. 

There is a difference in the testing methodology used. The QA engineers take care of the functionality of product components, leaving internal code outside of their attention. SDETs perform white box testing to ensure also reliability of the code.

Essentially SDET is a higher-level position, that combines two expertise in one person. One participates in product development from the stage of planning till the final tests. This gives the specialist the possibility to lead the testing team and create a high-quality, reliable, and scalable product. QA engineer, on the contrary, is purely responsible for testing.

What are the skills required for SDET?

Working as a software development engineer in the test requires

– coding skills, 

– knowledge of testing frameworks

– strong communicational skills.

Skills like Test Planning, Java and Selenium Automated Test Tool – are basic ones. If you acquire test automation and Python you’ll be more valuable as SDET.

Other required skills may include:

  • Programing languages like Perl, Python, JavaScript
  • Operating system Linux
  • Platforms Docker, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Framework .NET
  • Test Automation practices

These pieces of knowledge allow SDETs to request higher salaries.

Jobs salary and perspectives

According to Payscale’s research the average yearly base salary of SDET in US is $89,000  (15.03.2022). Meanwhile, the average Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer Salary is $72,000, and Average Software Tester Salary is $56,000. 24% difference is quite significant, isn’t it? 

And it’s not only applicable for US. For example, according to the research of ITjobsWatch average salary of SDET in the UK is £65,000. Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer, in turn, is offered 18% less on average.

A lot of Software Developers in Test continue their career as Senior Software Engineers with an average salary of $120,000.

Differences between SDET and Software Tester
March 19, 2022

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