May 20, 2016

Switching from Manual Testing to an Automated Testing Career in Five Difficult Steps

It wasn't too long ago when I was an out-of-work software tester without much experience coding. There are many manual testers -- people who test web and mobile applications the same way customers use them, with a mouse, a keyboard, or a finger on a touch screen -- who are trying to switch to automated testing. I wrote at length elsewhere about my transition. With this blog post, I wanted to list more of a summary, hoping that other people in the same boat as I was would find it helpful.

Coding: Getting used to it

To get used to coding again, I worked through all of the examples in the free eBook Learning Python the Hard Way: to get used to working with a programming language. I really needed the hand-holding this book offered. Working with Python helped, since it is a language with less ramp up time.

Then, I purchased Java for Testers at to ease me into the Java programming language. Anything by The Evil Tester, himself, Alan Richardson, is made of awesome.

Java 8 and Python 2.7.11 seem to be the heavy hitters, when it comes to programming languages. Some companies are still trying to transition from Java 7 to Java 8, but they will do it eventually. Python 3? It came out years ago and hasn't been fully adopted yet. People would rather stick with Python 2 and pull in new features than switch to Python 3.

Doing the Coursework

I purchased Alan Richardson's online course Selenium 2 WebDriver Basics with Java: ($299) ... Work through all the Preview material if you can to see if you like his course, his videos, his humor, and his Scottish accent.

I used Alan Richardson's mildly outdated Selenium Simplified free guide to Get Started: ... I set up IntelliJ as an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) on my home PC. Either this or Eclipse seems to be the new standard.

Doing the Coursework right!

When working through an online course, if it is showing in the video someone typing code into IntelliJ, I am typing, too!

The left half of my screen contains the video playing in a browser. The right half of my screen is filled is my IntelliJ window.

... The instructor types? I type. The video executes the code? I do too... I accidentally wasted two months simply passively listening to the lectures. I retained completely no information I supposedly learned.

Create Code of My Own

Once I got a hang of things, I started looking around for things to automate, such as Dave Haeffner's test site, "The Internet" on and .

Share the Code!

I signed up for a GitHub account, creating a coding portfolio displaying automation coding examples I came up with:

Once I had the GitHub account filled with coding examples, I could prove to employers that I had what it takes to do the job.

Hope that helps!

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Sr. QA Engineer,

// QA Engineer since Aug. 1996
// Automation developer for [ 1 ] year and still counting!

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