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So you want to be an Automation Engineer? Find out what the job is all about.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a Software Automation Engineer?
  2. Typical duties
  3. Educational requirements
  4. Skills
  5. Salary
  6. Working as an Automation Engineer
  7. Sample resumes
  8. Final thoughts

What is a software automation engineer?

A software automation engineer is a programmer who specializes in the process of automating the development and testing of software. Just as well, they develop and maintain software that automates workflows and processes. 

In other words, an automation engineer, also be known as a software process engineer, an automated testing engineer, or an automation test engineer, can write scripts that perform tasks that would normally be performed by a human being.

For example, an automation engineer might help develop a program that automatically sends out notifications when certain criteria is met or errors occur. They could also develop a system that uses unique identifiers in order to automate data entry in different computer programs.

At least a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology is typically needed. Experience with common scripting languages such as Python or Javascript, as well as usability skills such as HTML markup and CSS styling could also be required.

Selenium is often used to write tests in Java. Wraith, AutoIT, burp suite/owasp zap, and many other technologies are also used.

Typical duties

A software automation engineer's job may consist of any or all of the following duties: 

  • Developing and implementing automation frameworks
  • Designing, developing and coding scripts
  • Creating customizable solutions for repetitive tasks
  • Integrating automation tools with existing software and a team of other engineers.

Educational Requirements

The United States only offers a few degrees in automation engineering, which is why most automation engineers complete their bachelor’s degrees in mechanical, electrical, or software engineering. Competition in the job market is high, and very few make it without at least a bachelor’s degree.

At the same time, it is an essential position for many companies, and they struggle to fill them. There are various reports of professionals in the field who got their feet wet during an internship, relaying that once they got that initial experience it has been easy to land subsequent positions.

Skills

Software automation engineers are generally required to have advanced knowledge in computer languages, computer science, and mathematics. Designing, developing, and implementing automation frameworks is no easy undertaking; top-performing automation engineers possess a mixture of computer science skills, engineering skills, communication skills, business knowledge, and interpersonal skills. 

Typical programming languages include Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SQL, JS/jQuery, among others.

However, it’s important to note that this job title is a great example of one that can have many different skills associated with it. A company that makes cars might not need someone that has experience coding. However, an automotive manufacturer will probably want someone with knowledge of how to build self-driving vehicles.

Salary

Automation engineer skills are in high demand because they can be very lucrative. Many organizations are now using automation to help improve their productivity levels, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.

The US. Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.com put the median salary (2020) at $76,652.00.

According to Glassdoor, the average total compensation for QA software automation engineers is $94k/year. They also report an average bonus of $7K/year and a typical contract length of 3-5 years. However, it is important to note that salaries can vary greatly based on company size, location, and years of experience, having a strong direct correlation with the latter.

While software automation engineers work in many different sectors such as finance, healthcare, automotive, and government, they also frequently get hired by FAANG companies and others such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Samsung, etc.

Working as an Automation Engineer

Glassdoor reports a work/life balance score of 3.8 out of 5; career opportunities of 3.8/5; and compensation and benefits scores of 3.6/5. At the same time, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook found that in 2016, 96% reported high levels of job satisfaction.

Because the typical duties for the job title are varied, and specific companies will have a very strong impact on the experience, we recommend heading over to Glassdoor’s “Working as an Automation Engineer”.

Sample resumes

You can find a sample CV for a Senior Software Automation Engineer from Velvet Jobs here.

QwikResume has several QA Automation Engineer resumes with varying degrees of experience and skills, here.

The subreddit CS Career Questions has a very blunt and to-the-point FAQ section for the most commonly asked questions in the field.

Final thoughts

A field that is seeing rising demand as more companies seek an edge above their competition, it does not yet face as intense competition as web design or other front-end career choices. The lack of available degrees means that open positions are open to a wider range of degrees. Landing an internship and building some experience seems to be the best way of entering this lucrative and fulfilling career path, with demand predicted to continue rising as automation becomes something companies must do to stay competitive, instead of an innovative practice.

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