What Is an SDET? What They Do and How to Sell this Role

What Is an SDET? What They Do and How to Sell this Role

If you are a technical recruiter, you might be a bit unclear about what exactly is an SDET. You might be wondering, “Is SDET same as a tester?” But, SDETs seem to be requiring just as much coding as software engineers. Then you ask yourself, “What skills am I supposed to look for when my hiring manager is looking for an SDET?”

On the other hand, if you are a software developer looking for a contract or full-time job with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, etc., you’ve probably been approached by enough recruiters that asked you if you’d be interested in working as an SDET. Your first reaction might have been – Testing? No way. Then, they start talking about how it involves a lot of coding and now you think, “Now, that’s different from what I thought about testing.”

SDET stands for Software Development Engineer in Testing.  To help demystify SDET, here is a collection of articles that explain what an SDET is and does:

A Great Summary by Seth Eliot

Seth Eliot’s blog on MSDN was particularly useful for both developers and recruiters because it gave a concise and insightful summary:

What is an SDE-T?

  • Programming experience a must
    • Key here is that the candidate is a Developer. Strong QA candidates without development experience are generally not acceptable for this role.
  • Test Automation
    • Writing code to test code: UI and API level testing
    • Creating, modifying, or designing test frameworks
    • Good: Selenium, JUnit, NUnit, TestNG, etc.
    • Using “canned” products like QuickTest Pro, TestDirector, SilkTest is generally *not* sufficient
  • SDLC and Software Processes
    • Agile/Scrum a plus
  • QA interest / enthusiasm / experience
    • Created Test Cases, Test Plans
    • Debug / troubleshoot issues that they found (deep dive)
    • Bug reporting / triage / prioritization
    • Was responsible for guiding quality on production release
    • Functional, load, stress, user interaction testing
  • Customer focus
    • Customer facing experience a plus
  • “Soft” Skills
    • Communication
    • Driving consensus
    • Leadership
    • Creativity
  • Technologies
    • Must have experience programming a high-level OO language (C#, Java, C++, or C#)
      • C#/.NET experience highly preferred
    • RDBMS, SQL, stored procedures. SQL Server preferred.
    • Web technologies: HTML, JavaScript, web services, XML, CSS

How to sell the SDE-T role to a developer

  • Breadth of experience over narrow focus
  • End to end product expertise. From development to user interaction
  • Subject Matter Expert on product. Has input on product direction.
  • Career “big fish in a small pond”… a strong contributor can really make a name for him or herself. Easier than in Dev because do not get “pigeon holed” and because the QA field is more exclusive.


This guest blog post is by Pradeep Chauhan, Founder of OnContracting.comOnContracting.com is an online community and marketplace that helps professionals find temporary contract jobs at great local companies by giving them access to hard to find information and helping them connect with the best recruiters to get those jobs.

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