Is Software Testing dead? Definitely not. Is it dying? In some context, yes. Due to the dramatic changes happening in the field, the future of software testing jobs will not remain the same...
When considering the future of Software Testing, two questions arise:
- Will manual testing still be in demand, and in what form?
- What tech world trends should we take into account to keep our skills and qualifications relevant during the next few years and after?
Making predictions is a thankless exercise, so we will take a look at trends and possible outcomes for future of software testing jobs instead, the accuracy of which we will find out soon enough.
Manual and Automation Testing Roles
Despite there being much talk about manual testing being put aside as automation testing gains favor by speeding up the testing process and avoiding repeat routine operations, automation cannot entirely substitute manual testing. Automation testing has limitations such as not being able to replace exploratory testing and some of the more important operations performed by a person. Accepting those considerations, some experts believe that the role of software tester will be displaced by developers performing the testing activities. Refuting that assertion, testing remains an independent discipline implying specific knowledge, skills and the so-called ‘tester’s mindset’ which leaves this specific role as distinct. Thus, developers too have certain limitations that prevent them from testing their code as effectively as software testers inhabiting separate role.
There is, however, the role of the Software Developer Engineers In Test (SDET). These specialists are focused primarily on testing rather than development, and contribute to the SDLC process accordingly. As for the manual testing specialists, they need to engage with the changing environment more than anyone else to stay on top. Someone with automation skills can be a good tester, as well as the person who lacks the ability to code but according to the latest predictions, the share of manual testing will gradually decrease. Having at least one programming language in your qualifications list is becoming necessary, so the answer is to learn automation and/or specialize in a specific niche or domain. On top of this, codeless automation is another approach that is likely to grow into something big in the near future, providing a user-friendly interface for generating automated test scripts, even for those who are not familiar with coding.
Trends in Software Development and Testing
AI and Machine Learning
Trends in software development and the tech world, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science, define the demand for relevant skills in testing. Besides these considerations, new technologies are bringing with them new kinds of tools that dictate the context of the software testing role. With the development of AI and the introduction of testing tools such as test bots, the human tester will create the test scripts, direct and control the work of the QA bots and translate the results into meaningful information in a new role, “QA Ops.”
Agile and Continuous Integration
With the demand for faster software delivery, agile and continuous delivery are becoming a must rather than just a benefit for most projects. As a result, testing is shifting left, the focus on automation has increased, and testing is becoming more dynamic. Testing in production, or at least in production-like environments, is one more practice that can give you the competitive advantage (if used correctly, of course). This places an added obligation on testers to be flexible and accept the challenge of maintaining quality standards over shorter time frames and on an ongoing basis. Software testers need to have closer communication with developers, DevOps, and the clients, who will be more involved in the SDLC and continuous delivery.
Mobile and IoT
The advance of mobile is another noticeable trend that shouldn’t be overlooked. The expanding use of mobile devices is predicted to lead to a 7-fold rise in data traffic from 2016 to 2021. For software testers, it requires not only the ability to test mobile apps and websites with different resolutions and on various devices, but also to acquire expertise in mobile e-commerce, mobile security, IoT, wearables testing, and even more.
Cloud, Virtualization, and Crowdtesting
Cloud and virtualization open vast possibilities for software testing, as they provide access to complex and scalable configuration environments at a comparably low cost and effort. As a natural consequence of the rise in mobile technology, crowdtesting is gaining popularity as a fast, cheap and easy way to perform testing on all possible devices and in any corner of the world. In these terms, crowdtesting can be quite a challenge for traditional software testing units. On the other hand, software testing departments or organizations can use crowdtesting as an external service which can turn into a win-win cooperation.
Going Freelance and Remote
According to the Freelancing in America 2017 annual report by Upwork, the share of freelancers in the US continues to grow and is predicted to overtake traditional employees in 2027. Work patterns are becoming increasingly flexible and a growing number of dedicated software testing companies are using a workforce that is 100% remote. Freelance platforms can offer great opportunities for those looking to have a wider choice of technologies and more freedom in a schedule, as explored in this post: Differences between Freelancing and Permanent QA Jobs. Under current conditions, I believe traditional jobs will become more flexible too, as these changes apply equally to software testing and more of today’s professions.
The future is here. What is required from us is to stay relevant to demands by learning continuously so we can enjoy the fantastic challenges that the age of technology brings us.