Current Date :June 15, 2024

SDET vs. QA – What’s the Difference?

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” – John Ruskin.

And testers add largely to this effort in assuring quality in the software development space. From putting it last on the priority list to making it an important component of software development, people have understood that software testing is a significant and decisive stage in the software development life cycle. Resultantly, testing methodologies have experienced changes over time.

The changing testing methodologies have also driven a change in the role of testers. A Quality Assurance Engineer or QA Engineer is a common testing role. A new addition to the testing roles is Software Development Engineer in Test or SDET. It is a comparatively new role that still leaves many confused and admiring. But it’s not always clear what the difference is between an SDET vs. QA tester. Making things more confusing, some companies use the title differently than others. Does it just indicate a QA engineer or automated tester, or is there more to it? Let’s go over the basics.


A Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) is an amalgamation of a developer and a test engineer. An SDET is someone who is included in the project right from its planning stage and can assist automate the testing process. A software development engineer in the test is actually a developer.

Whereas, a QA Engineer is someone who has full knowledge of various testing processes and methodologies. They should also be well-versed in data administration, bug reporting, troubleshooting, and test environments.

SDET vs QA – Core Differences

The definition of the roles should have presented you with an insight into the differences between an SDET vs QA. However, the definitions are just a short introduction to how these two roles differ. Here are some more points of differentiation that will help you obtain a better understanding of the roles.

 1. Roles & Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a QA engineer are as follows:

  • Planing the testing process
  • Allotting tests to various testers
  • Determining the testing schedule and the test budget
  • Interacting with the development team to assure that the testing is on track
  • Generating reports that compile the test results for the development team
  • Building test cases and test scenarios
  • Reviewing the test to assure that all the customer requirements are being met

The roles and responsibilities of an SDET involve the following:

  • Reviewing the product code during the development lifecycle
  • Taking part in the planning and design processes
  • Being an advocate for the consumer by assuring that the product meets customer expectations
  • Formulating scalable and robust frameworks that can be utilized to automate tests
  • Developing test tools that help testers
  • Performing performance, functional, and regression testing
  • Ensuring that the product is robust, reliable, and scalable
  • Developing extensive test reports

As you can see, the SDET is mainly accountable for automating tests and delivering a high-quality, stable, and scalable product by involving in the development process from the beginning. In comparison, the QA is purely held for the testing and does not take part in the planning and design stages. 

   2. Skills Needed For The Job – SDET vs QA

The difference in the roles and responsibilities of both positions interprets into a difference in the skills required for the job as well. A QA should be well-versed in the application of test tools such as Selenium, developing and administering test cases, and creating and tracking bugs. A QA engineer only requires basic programming knowledge.

In distinction, a software development engineer in tests should be well-versed in several programming languages and should be able to know the development process. They should also be able to interpret customer requirements into test scenarios.

Since SDETs have to work with developers, testers, and customers, communication, and leadership skills are equally essential for the job. SDETs need to have great people skills to efficiently collaborate with various teams.

3. Testing Methodology Used

The QA engineer conducts black-box testing. They are only concerned about the functionality of every component. The internal code is not of interest. However, an SDET requires to perform white box testing. They require to ensure that not only is the component functioning as per specifications, its code is also stable and robust.

The responsibilities of an SDET are greater than those of a QA engineer. In extension to this, a software engineer in the test should have experience in various programming languages as well as testing tools. Given these circumstances, it is expected that the average income of an SDET is higher than that of a QA engineer.

4. Future Of The Role

With the arrival of automation in testing, manual testing has become irrelevant and is on its way out. Prime software companies, such as Google and Facebook, have already done away with the position of QA engineers. Going by the trend of these industry leaders, SDETs are the future. If you are a QA engineer right now, then this is the chance to upskill yourself. Learn new languages and try your hand at automating tests. The requirement for a QA engineer may not die down entirely, but it will decrease, and SDETs will be the ones replacing the QA engineers. 

Need For SDET

This is the age of automation. SDETs take the testing to the next level by enhancing the code quality along with creating the product bug-free. The software industry is moving towards automated testing for the functionality, protection, and performance of the product.

SDETs play a significant role in this process. With their excellent skill set and knowledge of several testing tools and programming languages, test development engineers are key to assuring that the client gets a high-quality, bug-free, stable, scalable, and robust product.  

SDET vs. QA Salary

The salary for an SDET or QA tester will depend on their expertise, location, employer, and probably even bias in some hiring methods.

For example, an SDET working for Apple in Silicon Valley might have a salary of $120,000 or more per year. On the other hand, an SDET working for a smaller company in Raleigh, North Carolina, might make 25-30% less. 

Automated testers usually have comparable salaries to the “SDET” job title. However, since “SDET” is an even more coveted position, salaries for those positions tend to be higher than a more generic “automated tester” job title.

Manual QA testers have a broad salary range. Depending on several factors, manual tester salaries can be anyplace from $40,000 to $120,000 or more per year.

In Conclusion

The software development method has changed drastically over the last decade, and these variations reflect on the testing as well. SDETs are a result of this change. By incorporating the testing into the development process, SDETs have the ability to make the product exceptional.

Our skilled SDETs are well-versed with the latest tools and technologies. We, at TestUnity, have helped many companies assure unmatched performance with our all-rounding testing services.

For reliable and exceptional testing services, TestUnity is your one-stop solution. Get in touch with us here.


Testunity is a SaaS-based technology platform driven by a vast community of testers & QAs spread around the world, powered by technology & testing experts to create the dedicated testing hub. Which is capable of providing almost all kind of testing services for almost all the platforms exists in software word.

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