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Who To Be: A Manual Tester or An Automation Engineer?

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Automator or manual tester

The transition to a new professional field poses many questions for the applicant, ranging from the choice of courses and the teacher and ending with financial opportunities in the coming years.

And more and more often, those wishing to master a new profession in the field of QA are faced with the question of which direction is more promising. We propose to discuss it in the article, written by experts from Boosty Labs company which specializes in outsourcing manual QA

What is software testing like?

If you are asking this question, but you probably already know something about the work of a software quality assurance specialist.

So, a tester specializes in finding software defects. The process of this search can be organized in various ways, depending on the goals, the degree of access to the program code, and the level of automation. It is the last parameter that determines whether the search for code errors will be performed manually or using software.

Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. Although automated testing as a full-fledged QA direction was formed really later, this approach cannot be called more perfect or universal.

Automation reduces inspection time and minimizes human routine. But there are also a number of cases when autotests are not able to identify system vulnerabilities. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this method?

So, a tester specializes in finding software defects. The process of this search can be organized in various ways, depending on the goals, the degree of access to the program code, and the level of automation. This is generally the last parameter that determines whether the search for code errors will be performed manually or using software. This process may involve cross-browser testing, which helps to verify if a web application or web app works across different browsers and degrades gracefully. As with other tests, this can be done both manually or automatically, depending on what approach an individual business prefers to use.

Test automation

Automated testing is part of the quality assurance phase of software development. This approach uses software to conduct and verify test results.

Test Automator

The first approaches to automation were formulated in the 1980s in Frederick Brooks’s The Mythical Man-Month, where the author discusses the possibilities of unit testing.

Now automation no longer seems to be something difficult or impossible, because its advantages are widely used by many companies to assess the quality of software. 

High accuracy

Correctly compiled autotests show results close to 100% when evaluating accuracy indicators. The fact is that the quality of tests is not tied to the day of the week, time of day or the fatigue of an engineer, whose attentiveness decreases with prolonged testing of the same type.

Startup automation

And a few more words about the days of the week or time of day. During business hours, the load on the servers increases, making it difficult or time-consuming to conduct a series of checks. Autotests can be carried out at night without the participation of a specialist, which speeds up the entire stage of testing a software product.

Reducing routine tasks

Performing manual tests of the same type can be a long and monotonous process. But automation provides more options for implementing unexpected and non-standard solutions, which brings more variety to the tester’s working day.


Since autotests are created to simplify routine checks, ready-made scripts can be modified or reused on a project or to assess the quality of other software products. Comfortable.

While all these factors strongly support the widespread adoption of automation, it is worth considering the weaknesses of the approach.

For example, autotests do an excellent job of performing typical and simple checks as part of functional testing, when assessing the accuracy of software performance. But for security testing, this method is not always suitable. On some projects, it is important for a tester to find a non-trivial way to “hack” the security system, and robots cannot effectively cope with this yet. And there are a few more limitations that should be taken into account.


The limitation of autotests is that they are able to repeat the specified actions and check the functions of, for example, a mobile application, but they cannot give an accurate assessment of the user’s satisfaction from the interaction or simulate a hacker attack on the security system.

Time spent

While automation reduces the time it takes to conduct specific tests, preparation for such tests starts several months in advance. After all, the project must be prepared for the implementation of automation, and they also take time to write.

False confidence

The high accuracy of autotests gives testers false confidence. Yes, such tests are capable of detecting the maximum number of defects under given conditions. But everything that is outside the area designated by the engineers turns into a blind zone for autotests.

Test automation definitely deserves attention, because it is a promising direction. And all the disadvantages of this approach are compensated for by another type of checks.

Manual testing

The origins of testing as we know it today can be traced back to the 1960s. Programs at that time were most often created for the needs of scientific research. Testing of such programs was carried out very strictly, all test procedures were recorded. The bet was made on “exhaustive” testing, which is carried out using all possible input data.

Automation profession

Manual testing simulates user actions and is performed by QA engineers when the software is not in use. And this approach has its own advantages.

Test speed

To start manual testing, you don’t need to prepare scripts in advance. Manual testing is optimal for assessing the quality of a small software product, suitable for checks that need to be carried out quickly.

Exploratory testing

The purpose of this approach is not to conduct ready-made test cases, but to study the capabilities of a software product. This kind of examination during use reveals unexpected defects.


Even when starting to check the functionality, the tester can reveal inaccuracies in the interface that are associated with layout or localization errors. This makes the software product of higher quality. A manual tester’s report can also be viewed as user feedback.


Introducing new, minor changes requires validation, and doing this as part of manual testing is easier and faster.


This aspect of manual testing plays a significant role rather for companies and customers, but it also needs to be taken into account. Manual testing is cheaper, freeing up some of the budget for other initiatives.

But the weaknesses of manual testing illustrate the advantages of an automated approach: high accuracy, autorun, time saving.

These approaches are actively used when testing software products; they have advantages and disadvantages that complement each other.

Automation is often used when:

The project becomes larger, and more and more complex systems have to be investigated;

the product exists in several versions that need to be tested promptly;

A large number of similar checks are required.

Manual testing will help if:

There is an urgent need to evaluate several innovations;

It is important to evaluate not only the capabilities of a software product, but also usability;

When testing, it is necessary to find a defect outside the standard checks.

What does all this mean for those wishing to start a career in testing?

Manual software quality checks are the first rung of the career ladder. This is the starting point for entering the profession, and no special knowledge is required from a future tester at the start of classes.

This is an interesting area of ​​IT, in which there is room for routine and creativity. A manual tester can develop in different directions and test automation is one of the career opportunities.

Specialists in this field can choose more complex projects. A beginner automation engineer can expect a higher salary compared to a manual tester. But not everyone can be interested directly in the process of writing code, without which automation is impossible.

When choosing a direction in the field of testing, it is important to assess not only the potential economic benefits, prospects, but also personal preferences. You can start with manual testing, and after gaining the necessary experience, move on to automation. Or you can keep improving your manual testing skills.