Practical Blog

Knowledge Platform

Practical Blog

Knowledge Platform

Testers can Development

Should Testers know how to program

Back in 2013 I published the following post, but since I know, no one actually read these links I’ve chosen to quote that post in full. Sadly enough I still get that question way to often to my liking.


One of the most common question that arises when talking to testers in an Agile context is “Does testers have to possess programming skills in an agile team?” For a long time my answer to that was no, since testing includes a vast number of activities which doesn’t require programming skill there will always be room for testers who can’t program.

However, I think that I was mistaken. These days I would expect anyone who claims the title of a professional tester to possess some level of programming skills.

Testers who can’t program are obsolete.

This fact can no longer be ignored. As automation gains a firm hold in our industry a tester must be able to significantly contribute to all automation effort. And while certainly one can contribute to this effort without knowing how to program, the room for these is relatively limited. Yes, even 10 or twenty years from now our industry will still have a large number of testers who can’t program. The same way that even today there are still professional Cobol programmer or programmers who can’t do object oriented programming. But I would expect that this will be the minority.

Testers who can’t program – CATCH UP

If you want to stay valuable in the market, start learning the basic skills of programming today. No, I don’t think you will need to become an expert top notch developer (not that there’s nothing wrong with that). The actual skill level required in order to become a productive test automation engineer (i.e. significantly contributes to automation effort) is lower than that. But Unless you will start to acquire these skills soon you will find very hard to find new open positions.

Here’s an interesting post that backup these claims with some concrete data.

And while I don’t consider this in any way as scientific proof or even big enough to indicate anything with significant statistical confidence, it still suggests that ~80% of testing job posting indicated a programming skill as necessary. Also notice, this post was published as early as 2010. My personal observation of recent job ads, which is certainly skewed towards Agile culture, suggests that the percentage is even higher.

 So what have changes since 2013?

As I said, not enough.

However I do start to notice one subtle change in tone.

In 2013, (and this is purely relying on my own personal memory) some teams when talking about automation, while admitting that it sounded nice and valuable, still weren’t 100% sure that’s automation fits them. It was still considered as something that you can do without. These days when I encounter new teams which are not fully engaged at automation I detect a slight tone of shame. They don’t challenge the fact that automation is crucial, they just say that they don’t know how to do it. some blame the organization not allocating enough time, and some are still puzzled at how to approach that.

So to me there is still progress 

What can you do?

Another change is that more  knowledge on proper automation is generated  and made widely available. In fact towards the end of the month we are opening our own special program aimed at helping manual testers make their first steps to learn how to automate (if you’re interested press here for more detail). Given time I expect we will see more and more similar programs being available (even locally).

And what can you do? well I don’t know, but if you are interested in these matters and have any kind of idea on what is needed, or what will help people to bridge this gap. let us know, just leave a comment down below .

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