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Will automated software testing eliminate my job soon?

With more companies moving to DevOps the push for automating software testing is strong. Expert Gerie Owen explains how to navigate this career challenge.

There's a lot of automated software testing in my company now. Is that going to eliminate my job?

No one can see into the future. That said, it's pretty clear that some of the traditional testing practices are going by the wayside, as processes such as Agile and DevOps continue to gain traction. These approaches emphasize speed to deployment, and synthetic testing and real user monitoring (RUM) in production, and have little time built in for traditional testing. If test plans, test procedures, formal test cases, and the usual test metrics constitute your understanding of the state of the art in testing, then the odds automated software testing is going to replace you are high.

If you embrace new methodologies, study and practice them, and understanding how testing works in these methodologies, there is a good chance that you can remain a productive tester for decades despite automated software testing.

Notice that I don't explicitly say that the job you are currently in won't go away at some point. In fact, with automated software testing arriving, it probably will, and you will likely hold at least several jobs over the course of your career. Some may be promotions, and some may be opportunities to learn new skills.

Still, there are no guarantees in life. Your skill set can be rooted firmly and permanently in the 1990s, and you happen to have lucked into a role that provides lifetime employment with that skill set. You could learn and practice new skills every year, yet find it difficult to get a new job. While the odds favor lifetime learning and forward-thinking practice, individual circumstances often differ from the odds.

Automated software testing isn't the culprit here. We've been hearing a lot about machine learning and the potential for AI and analytics applications to replace human workers in a variety of fields. While certain jobs, including software development and testing, will change, professionals who adapt to new roles and responsibilities will always be in demand.

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