Four Online Courses to Become Better SDET

AIM Consulting

SDET QA - web development - java

04/27/2016 | Application Development 

The trend toward continuous delivery and automated testing has caused organizations to lean more on the SDET role, increasing the demand for highly skilled SDETs in the marketplace. For manual testers who want to become SDETs, and for current SDETs who want to grow their value, continuing education is essential.

Like a lot of SDETs, I started in the field as a manual tester with an interest in coding. While working in QA at Microsoft, I took an outside course in C# with the goal in mind of transitioning into an SDET role and eventually to a development role. Unfortunately, QA at Microsoft is centralized, so it can be difficult to get the hands-on experience you need to make the transition. As not all testing teams are set up this way, I decided to make a change and that is how I came to join AIM Consulting. AIM took an active role in mentoring me. While I started with manual QA work, AIM actively helped me achieve the skills and experience I needed to progress, and I was promoted to a Mobile SDET role within three months.

Increasingly, the projects I am a part of require more knowledge of backend technologies. To increase my value and further my career, I decided to pursue additional education. AIM offers online courses for consultants through Pluralsight, an IT-focused online education and training company. Working with my mentor, I identified four courses that would have the most impact on my skills for the direction I want to take. I hope that sharing what I am choosing to take and why will be illuminating for other SDETs in similar situations.

Here is a rundown of the courses and what I hope to gain from the experience:

Java Fundamentals: The Java Language — by Jim Wilson

Java is one of the basic coding languages so it is a necessary tool for SDETs, especially if you are working on mobile projects as Android products and many web applications are using Java. Even Apple’s Objective-C and Swift are often tested with Java.

Why this course?

I already know Java. In fact, I am coding all my automation in Java now, but I wanted to take this course as a refresher and to fill in any knowledge gaps I might have. Java is so vast, and I feel I need to further hone my object-orientation concepts and be able to use abstraction, inheritance, interfaces, exceptions and error handling to a better degree.

JavaScript Fundamentals — by Liam McLennan

JavaScript started as client-side scripting language but has grown into a dominant programming language for backend development as well. It’s slowly becoming more robust and widely used in the industry. It’s a quick and easy way to write code, especially for testing.

Why this course?

To be a web developer/tester, it’s essential to have a deep knowledge of JavaScript, including creating JavaScript objects, manipulating properties, and using prototypal inheritance. It’s fast, can be used on any editor, and requires only a few specific lines of code to get results. I feel it is a valuable addition to my skills and broadens my ability to get results faster and easier when needed.

WebPageTest Deep Dive — by Nik Molnar

WebPageTest is a performance tool used for measuring and analyzing the speed of web pages to help testers identify and solve performance issues.

Why this course?

It’s highly important for Mobile SDETs to be able to test against web pages. One reason for this is that there has been rising concern around security with mobile apps. Mobile web apps and hybrid apps provide better security than native apps because hackers have a more difficult time breaking into web pages, but native apps provide a better user experience, so the challenge can be perplexing. One solution to use a web page for security-related tasks like signing in or adding payment information while building the bulk of the app on native code. This course will help me to learn to use a tool to test the performance of web pages and easily analyze results.

Five Essential Tools for Building REST APIs — by Elton Stoneman

REST APIs are becoming much more ubiquitous. They provide the foundations for how APIs will run and lend more freedom in designing and building web apps. Calls made through REST APIs eliminate the process of having to get information through a UI. Users can call information from the back end and validate it through code.

Why this course?

This course will expand my ability to work on both the front end and back end of a product and is the skill I want to build the most. Automation always needs UIs to be able to test. If SDETs can interact with the API directly through a REST interface (where you can use CSV, JSON, XML or RSS for output), they can test as the API is being created.

I think of these courses as a pyramid: Java is everywhere and must be learned as a fundamental language; JavaScript is the same from the other side. Knowledge of more specific topics like WebPageTest and APIs like REST elevates an SDET’s skillset further. In addition to these topics, a really well-rounded SDET might learn Swift and Objective-C for iOS and perhaps some additional scripting languages. SDETs with this kind of complete skillset can find work just about anywhere and are in huge demand.

As a consultant, it is important to build flexibility and learn different processes as well as different skills. By having solid knowledge of the above courses, it will be easier to meet the needs of more companies with little to no ramp-up time so I can be a productive asset sooner.


AIM Consulting’s expertise in application development covers the entire software lifecycle, from architecture to optimizing processes that ensure high quality outcomes with the most efficient delivery. To learn more, tell us about your challenge.

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Whether you need help with technology strategy and implementation, an in-flight project in need of additional resources, or individual contributors to bridge critical gaps in your teams, AIM is here to help.

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